Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Advocates Don't Stop

This morning while enjoying my coffee, scrolling through various social media platforms, I came to realize one thing.  Those that are considered advocates in any field in which they stand are full of passion that goes beyond recognition.  I say this because I know as an advocate often times the hard work we do behind the scenes goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  Countless hours spent on planning events, campaigns, Facebook content, or posts that at times, can barely reach immediate family.

Yet, hours on end advocates spend time researching, creating and preaching without backing down.   I think back to my Young Leaders training that I attended in both Australia and Vancouver.  I think about the mass of advocates that I was surrounded by all focused on one cause, Diabetes. We all stood proud, we stood undefeated and restless all because we believed in advocating for a disease that has taken our time, our strength and without a doubt, likely someone we love.   We stood strong. We stood strong on the stage in Melbourne, waving our countries flag, holding brave faces knowing the advocacy work we did and only hoping that the efforts, the tears and the sweat behind each project shone through.

I remember that feeling of overwhelming pride as we walked down the isles of that auditorium, trying to connect with those that passed us by.  Hoping that they could see without a doubt that we were there to advocate. We were there to show them that we are not silent. We are not living in fear; rather, we are living to fight.

But, then by the end of the conference we head back to our homes. We continue our work, we press harder for bigger projects, more media recognition, more people to join our fight. We spend the so little time we have between jobs, our families, our friends and we put it to advocating because we believe it matters. We know it matters.

We are not in this for the pay, or the pat on the back. We are in this because we hold so much passion in our hearts for what we advocate. We solely believe that we, as advocates can make a change.  A change that is worth the time and frustrations. A change that will be for the greater good, rather than just for ourselves.  We hold that passion near to our hearts and together we believe.


I want to say thank you to all the advocates out there that stand for what they believe in. Thank you for all the time you put into your projects, groups, and work.  Without advocates change would not happen. Without advocates people who are underserved, or left behind would not have a voice nor a place to turn.  Advocates, keep your passion warm and close to your heart and continue to believe that what you're doing will make a difference.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Saying Hello to 2018

In a few short days we welcome a new year.  The greatest thing is that it falls on a Monday. A new week, a new month and a new year all bundled into one!  

This is the time of the year where we make resolutions that we stick to for thirty days, we promise ourselves this year is "our" year and we begin to work on ourselves more than ever whether that is clearing the clutter in our desks, eating more vegetables, attempting to floss more or the all mighty resolution, losing weight.  

For me, I have set resolutions every year in the back of my mind and rarely do I ever follow through, instead I end up just setting new goals along the way as opportunities pop up. I don't think that's a sign of me failing at my set intentions, but rather adapting to the ever changing life ahead of me.   For 2018, we will be getting married, which opens up a whole new chapter in itself!  I also will be embarking on a small part time position at the local college as an instructor; which is a very new and exciting adventure! 

Saying Hello to 2018 feels good! I know that while good things are ahead I am sure challenges hide among them. I am open to change, adaptation, new experiences and adventures that take bravery, hope or drive.  I am welcoming 2018 with the idea that my life is for ever changing, but my support through it all has remained stable. 

I wish everyone else the same excitement for their 2018 ahead.  The open mind to accept new experiences, the open heart to love those that surround us and the open door to let others in.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Draining Battery

During holidays, or stressful times, living with a chronic illness can feel like a draining car battery.  Enough juice to make an attempt, but not enough to go anywhere.  You may feel a heavy sense of guilt, not doing enough as others or falling short on your to-do list.  While this isn't just an occurrence for people living with an illness, seeing the direct correlation of stress and your bodies response (blood sugars) is a tell tale sign.

For me this year has been full of excitement, planning, and of course a lot of stress.  Having been planning a wedding for the past seven months, maintaining a couple jobs, and the recent loss of my grandfather, dealing with diabetes and stress has been an open tab for quite some time. Fluctuating blood sugars, constant lows or constant highs, I've been riding a rollercoaster of unpredictable blood sugars for months now.

Often times in diabetes education appointments, they will speak about how to deal with diabetes when you're sick, but often the mental health aspect of diabetes is overlooked.  While I may not be coming down with flu like symptoms, my mind is busy, overworked and I am tired - now what do I do? 

There really is no one-size fits all answer. While, during sick days you're taught to keep a close eye on blood sugars, drink plenty of fluids and change your insulin ratios - it seems stress doesn't always play such a predictable game.  My best advice that I've tried to focus on for myself is taking time to enjoy those moments where my heart feels content, whether that is playing with my niece, spending time with my friends or family or just being in a space where I feel calm.  

Blood sugars will rise and fall, I haven't come across anyone whose blood sugars remain the same. Stress will come and go in many different forms and life will keep on passing by.  Maintaining the charge in your battery will always be hard, but never impossible. 


Friday, December 15, 2017


There are two times in life that you realize life moves too fast.  The times when it seems you blink your eye and the day is over, the good party wraps up, or the vacation is finished, those times.  Then, there are the times when you lose someone you love and realize that the time we get to spend with one another is much too short.

I lost someone very special to me and my while my heart feels heavy, it does feel full.   As I sit and reflect, I write....

Dear Grandpa,

If only we had more time. More time to tell your stories about the cars you drove, the places you went and the people you knew.  If only we had more time to discuss the wedding I was planning, the home I would buy and the children I want to have. If only we had more time.

But, when I think of the time that we did have, it was quite a bit and I am so thankful for that time although it seems it went by too fast. Not everyone gets to spend twenty-seven years with their grandparent, and for that, I am happy.

While our time to make memories on earth has ended, I feel you in my heart.

You live in us all now. How special is that.



Friday, December 8, 2017

Reminder for Self Care

This time of year can be incredibly exciting and fun, but at the same time it can be very stressful.  As I get older I find myself shying away from the crowds at the mall and resorting to ordering online when I can (unless it's HomeSense, I always have time for that!)  I find myself wanting to just spend time with people and give back more then I receive because as you get older the 'stuff' turns into clutter quick and the days go by too quickly to waste spending in lines up.

This month has been incredibly stressful having both my grandparents in and out of hospital and trying to be there as much as I can, but being the only one who lives out of city, the stress of not being able to be there as much haunts me. While trying to practice self care, I find myself trying to also remind others maintain self care. I firmly believe we must be in the right space for ourselves in order to help others properly.

My blood sugars have been all over the place the past month and I can only imagine that is a direct product of the season we are in.  

When we break down this season there is high chances of: 

  • High stress
  • More goodies in the house than normal
  • More parties/social gatherings to commit to attending 
  • Financial strain
  • High anxiety situations (being around strangers, unfamiliar places etc.)
  • Lack of sunlight, weather change.

All of these things that everyone can experience, it really can throw a wrench in a person with diabetes' care. It is so incredibly important to prioritize what needs to be done and to hone in on how you are feeling.  We can easily get caught up in the season and forget the self care portion that is so important. 

Ways we can prioritize our self care: 

  • Set aside all electronics/social media
  • Create time to do something you enjoy or want (i.e pedicure, shopping, reading)
  • Take pauses in your day or try and slow down your task

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Mother's Story

There is a special place in my heart for those that spend countless nights awake tending to their children with type 1 diabetes.  I see the posts of those warrior Diabetes Moms or Diabetes Dads and recognize that often times this group is missed and under appreciated by health care teams, their family or their friends because it is simply hard to grasp how many hours these caregivers put in, and how many tears they shed behind closed doors.

Recently, a post by a Diabetes Mom, Kathy, really stuck with me.  She stated that, 

"I know I say this every three months but today will be the worst diabetes clinic. Her numbers have been so high over the last three months and I haven't been able to get them under control." 

I read this and thought to myself, she is taking the blame. She is taking this disease, that I know first hand does its own thing most of the time and she is placing that blame on herself. That isn't fair. I couldn't help but think about how many other caregivers are feeling this blame. I reached out this mom and decided to ask her a few questions to shed some light on what a diagnosis means for a parent of a child with diabetes. 

When Kathy's daughter was diagnosed the family felt devastation.  She thought that the doctor's made a mistake and she waited for that moment when they told her that her daughter didn't actually have diabetes and they could go home.   Kathy states that, "This moment changed everything." Kathy describes the diagnosis as feeling like a burden, and something that she did not know how to manage. 

"My daughter didn't adjust well to her 'new life.' She would have to be held down to get her blood sugar checked or to get insulin. I remember her begging us not to do this." 

Kathy remarked that it was one of the most heartbreaking thing she has ever had to experience and it really made her scared to leave the house after the diagnosis in fear of what challenges lay ahead beyond her home. Kathy also felt worry of what others would think about how she handled her daughter's diabetes, wondering if they were judging the way she handled her child's behaviour and refusal.

Kathy sees herself primarily as the manager of diabetes in her household, however she states that, 

"I am slowly training her to be my successor. I explain continually why we are doing things a certain way so that she learns as we go." 

But, in the meantime, admits that in managing her daughters' diabetes, Kathy also places a lot of blame on herself on whether or not she did enough to prevent highs, properly carb counted or should have changed insulin ratios sooner.  All thoughts that as a person with diabetes, are very familiar. It was this quote that struck me again,

"Sometimes I feel I give her too much autonomy with her diabetes. I think I just get tired. I work full time, run a household and care for two kids.....sometimes it feels like too much." 

This circled back to that first post I read from Kathy on her social media.  The feeling of blame that presses on the minds of caregivers alike.    Knowing as a person who lives with diabetes myself, that diabetes is unpredictable, and even when we think we understand diabetes, it often can throw obstacles at us.

I urge everyone to reach out to caregivers of children with diabetes and give them praise.  Buy them a coffee, ask if you can help them with anything, or simply listen to them and let them tell their story.   These caregivers are up in the night when most of us are asleep, buying juice-boxes and packing lunches while counting carbs and crossing their fingers that their child will be okay. They deserve some extra love and a big thank you for all the hard work. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Angry at Diabetes

Last night I was angry. I was angry at diabetes and as much as I tried to fight that angry, an impeding low brought it out of me.

"It isn't fair," I said sobbing like a child between the covers in bed.

 "It isn't fair that I have to do all of this."  

For me, I like to bottle things up, but like a carbonated drink, shaken over time, I do explode with grief every now and then.  I carry a lot of the burden of those that also live with diabetes, people who I admire, people who I know are struggling and just deserve a break.  I carry that on my shoulders along with my own grief and sometimes I crumble, like any human.

Earlier in the day after driving home from clinic I had a moment of reflection in the car, thinking about what life would be like if diabetes was no longer.

 What would I do with all that extra brain storage, that right now is plagued by carb counts, blood sugar checks, numbers upon numbers? 

What would it feel like if my guilt of not doing enough went away?

How would it feel to not fear complications, or the worry that I won't live a full life?

Upon arriving home, I left those thoughts in the car and didn't think about it. Until that low, when all those feelings came rushing back and I felt as though I had no feelings at all, yet more feelings I knew what to do with. I felt empty and blank, yet explosive and angry.

I knew I wasn't sad, it wasn't a feeling of being sad. It was pure anger at something I did not ask for, something I did not cause, something that was given to me when I was eighteen that I can not return or justify getting.  I was angry.

After some reassurance from M, telling me that he understands my anger, my frustrations but that I need to be strong and keep on going.  I let my anger leave the room, as I did not want to fall asleep with that anger.  Tears, some choice words, and candy to cure my low, I let that anger free (for now) and fell asleep.