Thursday, March 29, 2012

El Presidente

Today I walked with a beat in my step, the meeting for the Western Diabetes Association ended and even though it was terribly cold outside and getting dark, I put in my ipod earphones and began smiling as I looked ahead at a bright future.   I walked home thinking how much my life has changed since that very day I was told I have type 1 diabetes.  I couldn't help but smile, and think of how grateful I was to be given such amazing opportunities in my life. How did I get so lucky to be diabetic? Does anyone say that, but me?

So what went on at this meeting that made me skip down the sidewalk listening to "Fine by Me" by Andy Grammer.  Well, hinting at the blog post name and picture I am sure you've guessed it, but just in case -  I was elected president by the Western Diabetes Association for the year of 2012/2013.  I will admit, this was one thing I was super nervous about not achieving.  I never get nervous, speaking in front of hundreds of people, yet just the thought of not getting this position made made me think I would feel like I was doing something wrong for people not to notice that I could make this club amazing.

I stood in front and without pouring my complete heart out knowing that I was president already, I really wanted to make sure they knew they could count on me.  I am beyond ecstatic about what I can do with this club and where it can take me and the many other members. We all are so incredibly lucky to be given such opportunities in life and be able to do what we want and take what we want from them.

More than ever I have realized that it is really important to be patient and never give up. If you believe that you can do something than chances are you're going to reach that goal, you just need to be patient with yourself and others and everything will work out.  If you have positive people around you and a positive reflection of yourself - nothing is unattainable!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Extra Step

Dad, Jacob and Mom
You can't always expect someone to know exactly what you are going through when living with type 1 diabetes, but when those around you step up and show you just how much they are willing to try and understand, that is when you realize just how supportive a person can be.   For Camille and her partner Phil the concept of support has been taken to a whole different level, a level some parents of diabetic children probably haven't considered.

I got the chance to speak to Camille, the mother of Jacob and she shared with me a story that really made me sit back and think about what support means and how people in my life have shown me support in different ways.  This story is an example of outstanding support and understanding.  

Camille and Phil's son, Jacob was diagnosed January 18 2010, when he was only three years old and while Camille admits that it was a text book diagnoses with thirst, bedwetting and extreme fatigue, her and her partner were both shocked and had no idea what was going on with their poor son.    Soon they found themselves at the hospital learning how to manage diabetes, luckily for them one of the nurses also was a type 1 diabetic and sported an insulin pump.

The family, from La Sarre, Quebec, Canada began their journey with type 1 and eventually turned to the new technology that the diabetes world had to offer - an insulin pump.  Like many of us, this moment is a scary, yet exciting one. We have accepted the idea of the insulin pump, but aren't really sure what it is going to be like once we hook up that very first day.

Unfortunately, for the family insulin pumps were not covered and neither were the supplies that were needed.  Camille says, "We are an average family with an average salary, so we did not have $8000 for the pump and CGM that I was dreaming of..."  But with hard work on fundraising the family did manage to save up enough money to buy all that they were dreaming of for their son, Jacob.  Did I mention that the family raised $14 000 and after purchasing all that they needed they additionally donated money to three other causes including purchasing an insulin pump for another family in need. 

Now that you've already completely fallen in love with this family of three, I must tell you what led me to wanting to speak to them in the first place. Upon receiving the insulin pump Jacob began to realize that although this crazy device was saving life it was also setting him apart from others. "A month and a half into our pumping experience he said to me that he felt different, of course I explained that being different is okay and that every one has their own differences, but it is not easy for a 4 year old to wrap his head around - the different is okay concept."

Upon hearing this, like any other parent of a type 1 diabetic, Camille and Phil were heartbroken about their son's new view of his diabetes and insulin pump.  They began brain storming what to do to help their little one change his mind and cheer him up. They both thought it would be a great idea if Jacob was to meet another diabetic with an insulin pump, but they just didn't know anyone around them.  So, then it hit Camille, she thought of the idea of getting themselves some insulin pumps.

Don't worry they didn't raise another $14 000 to get themselves each a pump, instead they headed to the tattoo parlour to get a cheaper, maybe not less painful insulin pump.   In October 2010, they were now branded with two Medtronic look-a-like insulin pumps to show their son Jacob, just how cool wearing an insulin pump can be. "Jacob was totally ecstatic about it!"

Although she admits that soon enough technology will change and Jacob's pump many not also resemble  his parents, she says that, "our love for Jacob will never change and those tattoos will always be a reminder of that!" and later she explains, "I have to say that those tattoos did the trick for our son's self-esteem and that I would do it again in a heart beat!"   So that makes me wonder, will a CGM tattoo be the next step?

Camille, Phil and Jacob are a great example of how support is multi-dimensional. We all find ways to show our support and to help others that need that shoulder to lean on or that extra boost to get us up and running.   These parents took the extra leap right into a tattoo parlour in hopes of improving their sons esteem when dealing with his diabetes.  I am sure he will always be thankful for such loving parents, and will be asking them to lift up their shirts to show their grandchildren just how supportive they are.

To check out Camille's blog visit:



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Oversized Backpack to Cell Phone

My iPhone in comparison to my Pump
Multiple Daily Injections, also known as MDI or if someone says they use a pen or syringe - is usually the first thing people try out when diagnosed; however, I do know of cases of Type 1s being put on Metformin pills before taking insulin. Sometimes people continue to use MDI for the rest of their life, or for a long, long period of time while others look into other possibilities such as an insulin pump.  The choice is really yours.

Having an insulin pump is like having shortcuts which ultimately cuts a tremendous amount of time out of your day. Instead of having to pull out a pen, screw on a needle, count carbs, convert that to your insulin units, dial up and inject, all you have to do is take out your pump, count carbs, type it into your pump and press a button.  You are able to do this while sitting on the table without a single person knowing - saying that, I would take my MDI at dinner tables freely, and many would not even notice I had given myself a shot.

To view this article
The first Insulin Pump invented in 1963 By Dr. Arnold Kadish 
Teaching people about your insulin pump is important, and no I don't mean the random people that pass you by on the street, but the people that are around you.  Sometimes medical equipment can seem scary to those who know nothing about it and that is when you get questions like, "So there is a needle in you right now?" or "how long was the surgery for that?"    Giving them brief information is the best way to go about it, don't even try to explain basal and bolus unless they are actually listening and seem intrigued, because you don't need a refresher at this point, so what's the point if they aren't listening.

The first insulin pump was invented in 1963 and to say the least they have come along way.  The first pump was like a backpack and now it is so small it gets mistaken for a phone or pager; rather than, an oversized backpack.   The diabetes researchers have come along way in providing us with up to date information and technology that we can be thankful for, and while some decide to stay using MDI, there is nothing wrong with that.    After all, some of us own computers, some of us do not, those without computers aren't worse off than others (until they need to google something...)


Monday, March 26, 2012

No one's better!

We all have experience with diabetes as diabetics and while some of have had diabetes longer than others that doesn't make us less diabetic or less educated about diabetes than those veteran diabetics.  It feels like as soon as you enter that hospital you instantly become 'diabetic' when previous, although you may have had all the symptoms, you were just a regular person.  As soon as you're diagnosed you gain a whole bunch of knowledge and that begins your journey with diabetes.

I've come across a few 'veteran' diabetics and realized that although they have lived with diabetes much longer than I have, our common knowledge about diabetes is similar and if it differs in any way it would be because of our sources (i.e nurses or endocrinologists.) It doesn't take long to be a professional diabetic when your working hours are around the clock, seven days a week.

Someone once asked me how long I was diagnosed for and after saying three years they replied with, "well _________ has been diagnosed longer, so she/he has way more experience than you."  I have to admit that this offended me.  Yes, he/she may have had diabetes longer than me, but that does not mean that I know less about diabetes.  I have administrated insulin both with syringes, pens and an insulin pump, and I have checked my blood sugar more than a thousand times.   

The truth is, is that we all have different views on our diabetes and we all manage our diabetes in different ways, but really once you're diagnosed you're only a few days away from figuring what diabetes is about and knowing exactly what it is like to live with type 1 diabetes no matter if you're five years old or fifteen.  


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Holding my letter from the UK

No matter where we are in the world, we are all very similar. We all check our blood sugar, some more often than others, we all administer insulin one way or another and we all deal with diabetes every second of every day.  The differences in our lives is that we all hold different jobs, some of us are firemen, others dieticians, some of us work in retail while others are still students. We all have different amounts of education, some of us still in elementary school, others finishing high school while some of us have diplomas or degrees.   We look all different, blue, brown, green, hazel eyes, brown, black, blue, red hair... so what have we proven?  That diabetes doesn't discriminate.

We are all spread out throughout the world, and this has been more visual than ever with social networking.  It's incredibly interesting reading how people manage diabetes in different countries and that is why I started the pen pal system and why in the first place I looked for a pen pal from a different country other than my own.

I received my first letter from my pen pal from the United Kingdom.  It was nice to receive mail that wasn't a bill or a bank statement for once.  The letter was written on brown paper and came in a brown envelope (which I found neat!)    My pen pal wrote about herself and included the bit about diabetes near the end.  I was so interested as I read about what she has accomplished and what her goals are for her future.

She included some cute stickers and asked a few questions so I can send a letter back to the UK.   I look forward to continuing the letters and really hope that many others get to experience sending letters to a type 1 diabetics. There is just something about connecting with others that are just like you, yet different at the same time.


If you would like to find a type 1 pen pal please visit Facebook at: T1 Diabetic Pen Pals

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Good Food!

We all have to get up in the middle of the night eventually to grab ourselves some snacks, but for some reason, going low in the middle of the night is MUCH worse than going low during the day.  Besides the fact that you are having to wake up from your sleep and crawl out of bed, the fact that there is a possible chance that there is NO good food in the house at 2 a.m is the worst feeling - at least when it's in the middle of the day you can have a spoon full of honey and march yourself to the candy store for a good treat.

It seems that in the middle of the night, when you wake up craving food you want something intangible.  Something that just hasn't been in your cupboards in years.  You have scanned each and every cupboard and drawer, and you even have looked at your roommates stash and STILL cannot you cannot manage to please Mr. Diabetes who is demanding cotton candy and a Caramilk bar. You now have to just deal with sipping on a juice box for the time being until you fall back asleep and forget about that demanding Mr. Diabetes who woke you up for an impossible snack.

It seems we all crave something a little different when we are low and sometimes it is such a huge craving that you cannot bare to be low anymore.   When the opportunity strikes you where you can eat whatever you want without consequences, you realize that it doesn't matter because the milk, goat cheese and mayonnaise you have in the fridge isn't going to satisfy your needs anyways.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Lessons

Sometimes I forget that once upon a time I didn't have diabetes.  Living with diabetes for three years, seems short when you think about it, but in reality it feels like forever.  As soon as you become diabetic, you have to learn so much and at first you feel overwhelmed and wonder how you will ever figure it out once you leave the hospital.  With new supplies that you have never seen before as well as medication it is like jumping into unknown waters at first.

You learn the basics pretty quickly, like how to check your blood sugar and give yourself insulin and you truly go through the whole process again when you get an insulin pump. But, every now and then there is something you haven't come across before, and that is when you turn to your other diabetic pals for some advice..and a check of reassurance - "ah, is this normal?"

Today I was sitting in my english lecture and felt something wet on my elbow which was sort of up against my stomach.  I looked at my elbow, then looked at my stomach area, and realized a small wet spot had formed on my dress exactly where my site was sitting.  I rubbed it a bit with my finger and it smelt like insulin!  I had just given myself two units due to high blood sugar, and it apparently decided it best be on my dress instead.

I didn't panic or anything, knowing I had two other diabetic friends in class with me, I patiently waited until class was over to ask them the good old question, "is this normal?" and they replied with, "YES! that happens to me!"    Making me feel even better about the situation, knowing that I just needed to change my site and possibly tubing to ensure that insulin was being delivered.

As far as the little tiny stain on my blue dress, nothing a little Spray 'n Wash can't get out!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Phantom Blood Sugars

Diabetics are usually on the ball with knowing when they are high and low.  We all have individual experiences with both and when we feel one coming on either high or low, we usually can detect it right away.  Of course there are also a few times when you have to be reminded, "Hey Kayla, you are acting a little strange, check your blood sugar."

However, sometimes when you do feel a low or high coming on, and you check - you are COMPLETELY WRONG.  The worst is when you are laying in bed (and this seems to be the prime time for phantom lows)  you are lying there and feel hungry, sort of... well you feel a bit cloudy, you are tossing and turning and your head is going crazy and you finally build up the strength to crawl out of bed to check your blood sugar.   7.8 [140.4 mg/dl].... what?

You had built up the strength to pull yourself out of bed only to be perfectly fine!  You pout, and drink a juice box in sorrow anyways, knowing that you felt weird, so your meter must be broken!  Then it is back to bed, hoping that one of these phantom episodes don't show up again in the middle of the night.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Finer Things

The question is always, "Can you eat that?" and the answer is always, "Yes.." (Unless it is something gross and you need an excuse, in that case the answer is, "No way, too many carbs!")   But, for the majority of the time when someone asks you if you can eat this or that, the answer is always yes, and it isn't a simple yes, it is a big YES as if to say, "Duh it's not like it has poison in it... does it?"

When I was first diagnosed, not even that long ago, I was strict with what I ate, then I realized that I had lived almost nineteen carb-a-licious years of my life, how can I just stop?  After all, I had the treatment for diabetes - insulin and I had the right tools to know what to do when my sugar was high or low - meter.  So what was stopping me from continuing to live the life I had lived for so long.

I enjoy carbs, like most people and despite being diagnosed with diabetes, I will indulge in sweet treats and pizza pies!  Of course it is important to eat healthy, and it is just as important for diabetics as it is for non diabetics to watch what they eat, but if you are not that kind of person, then why not eat what you love and love what you eat.   Honestly, as long as you're taking insulin, checking your blood sugar, and making sure you aren't OVER-indulging than you're good.

After being around a few parents of diabetics, I started to realize that something was a little different.  Here I am, almost twenty-two years old, living with diabetes and eating whatever I want and guess what, I feel good, I look healthy and most of all I am happy.   No one has ever told me that I can't eat something and if they have, I have been quick to react.  It's not like I am trying to prove that, "HEY! I can eat a cupcake and I have diabetes.." No, no, not at all, but I am proving that there is a happy life to live while managing diabetes.

I have observed parents tell their children that they cannot have a cookie because it has too many carbs, while the child held the cookie in their tiny hands.   Now, I have no idea what it is like to be the parent, and I can only imagine that it is one of the most exhausting jobs in the world to be a parent of a diabetic, but I can easily put myself in the shoes of their child.

I realize that being on injections is different than being on the insulin pump - and that is one reason why I think the pump is amazing for not only people my age, but also for children.  But, in this particular scene I am describing the child did have an insulin pump. I couldn't help but ask, and when she replied with yes, I told her to eat it!  Of course her father told me he hated me...but I sort of felt good about giving that freedom to a diabetic.

If that child sees food as a bad thing, what will he/she think when she is older.  Will she/he turn to junk food as soon as they are set free only to let their blood sugars go out of control?  I don't really know the answers, but I do think it can affect more than blood sugars to tease diabetic children.  So why not?  We have the tools, the treatment and support - sometimes it is okay to have a little treat and not feel like diabetes is holding you back from enjoying the finer things in life, like cotton candy.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

You, Me and ... My Pump?

If you are willing to date a diabetic girl, you better be willing to date her insulin pump.   Her insulin pump is pretty much her little companion, when she is ignoring you, chances are she is looking at her pump and figuring out how many carbs are in that slice of pizza you are sharing.  So, either you OR the pump are the third wheel in the relationship - you decide.

Without being completely inappropriate, the concept of having an insulin pump and dating is interesting. It's an awkward external pancreas, that some how manages to make sure you know it's there.   Of course, the diabetic knows what it is like to have a pump on them at all times, but when you start hanging out with someone more often, especially in an intimate relationship - they begin to get a little sample of what it might be like.

Vince has grown to love my insulin pump and after I wrote the blog post, "Sexy Pump" that has become the new name of my purple sidekick.   My insulin pump has become a clock, a flashlight and of course, a life saver all in one, and my second half realizes this, especially the whole clock part.   The awkwardness of the insulin pumps comes in many forms - of course,  but most of all the whole concept of sleeping with an insulin pump is annoying.   However, when you are sharing the bed, the whole idea of sleeping with a pump becomes even more annoying, because now your partner can roll onto your pump leaving for you and him/her with a nice indent of buttons and tubing lines.

So, really as much as the diabetic has to get used to wearing a pump, so does his/her partner.  Even though as diabetics, we are wearing it 24/7 and have picked up a few tricks along the way, we have to do our best to make our pump a little less awkward each time we hang out with our significant other.  Soon enough though, they pick up on the cues and learn to get used to, you, me pump.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Good Luck

Today I got the pleasure to meet with two retired school teachers, Susan and Ric.  Susan and Ric have a 23 year old diabetic daughter who is now married and an accomplished oboist. They live in London, and are a huge part of the diabetes community with lots of experience having raised a diabetic themselves.

It was a beautiful day, and what made it even more beautiful despite the 22 degree weather, was that I learned a lot from them.  First, after getting a tour of their gorgeous home, hearing about their children what they have accomplished - I realized that they live a great life, which is great motivation to strive for the best when it comes to careers and family.  I know that I am on the right track and seeing how they live and how happy they are - I know that happiness is incredibly attainable. 

One thing I took away from the few hours I spent on the front porch - sipping a diet coke, was something that Ric told me about creating good luck.   I don't know how many times people have told me that I am lucky.  My roommate from last year always told me that I was lucky because I was diabetic - kind of a trade off.    I know that I have had a lot of experiences in life and have been given amazing opportunities, but I also know that I have worked hard to get where I am and experience what I have.

As much as it looks like 'good luck' I know that I created this life for myself (of course, with many helping hands along the way) but, most importantly, it wasn't by coincidence that all of this has fallen into my lap.   Ric talked about how if you truly think about how you got that job you always wanted, or how you met the love of your life - you would realize that consciously or unconsciously you created the life you live today. 

This made me smile, because I am an optimistic, positive person, but this made me realize that YES! I can do what I want and get what I want. I can travel, smile, dance, sing, dream, laugh, love... I can do it all and at the end of the day feel great about what I have accomplished and know that along my journey, I may have just made a few other people feel the same way. 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sick of Pricks

Me wearing a CGM. 
Checking your blood sugar is probably one of the most annoying things about diabetes - with insulin pumps now, we are only a few button pushes away from being treated; however, still having to pull out the three amigos, [meter, strips and poker] is the biggest hassle next to having to change a site.  Some people religiously check their blood sugar with the mindset that they want to know their blood sugar at all times; while others hardly ever pull out their meter.

I think this goes in phases - sometimes I like to keep on track with my blood sugar, checking frequently, while other days I could care less if I knew what I was at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.   Of course it is important to check your blood sugar  to make sure your insulin ratios are accurate and to make sure you're avoiding as many high/low blood sugars, but when does it become too much?

When I first got my insulin pump I was checking A LOT. By A LOT I mean, around 15 times a day. Of course my fingers were taking a beating and they could bleed on demand, but to me, I felt like I wanted optimal control and this I thought, meant over-checking.

Over-checking . . . I am not sure if that is exactly a true term to describe it, but I really do think that this is something that can happen.  Of course the majority of us are under checking (the prescribed 4 times a day) but, out there, people are checking onwards of 15+ times.  Their control must be great - but at what point has diabetes taken over.

We all know that diabetes is a 24/7 disease and just like a newborn baby it takes a lot of energy and time out of us, but there are ways to enjoy life with diabetes - of course.  Compulsive checking isn't exactly ideal nor fun, especially for your fingers - but is it as easy as it seems to cut back a couple pricks?

After being on the pump and checking compulsively, my nurses told me to cut back. [Note now they are telling me to check more...] For me, I learned that even though I do not know my blood sugar always - my body is a pretty good indicator of where my numbers stand.   Under 5 [90 mg/dl], I am a feeling a little loopy and weak, above 14 [252 mg/dl] I am feeling foggy and annoyed.  It's different for everyone, but let's give ourselves some slack and let our bodies do some work at least...

Now, with CGM's (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) diabetics can allow the machine to check their blood sugar. Of course, we still have to prick our fingers - just not as often.   As time goes on, I am sure the finger pricking will get better and more advanced. Soon - I hope, we will never have to see blood draw from our finger tips again.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making a Change

As everyone knows, I am involved in the diabetes community in a lot of different ways from volunteering with JDRF to making my own community in London, Ontario. For me, I don't think of it as work - I just do it, because it makes me feel good and to see others smiling and enjoying their time is an added bonus.   I know that there is a need for a strong type 1 diabetes community in London, and the best way to get that - is to create it.

The first event I held brought out 15 type 1's and some were completely taken back, by all of the others doing exactly what they have been doing for years.  That 'aw-ha' moment when you see someone else pull out a meter, check their blood sugar, shake their head with disappointment, and dial up their insulin pump. You begin to realize that even though sometimes you're the only diabetic in the room - there are thousands of others doing the very same thing you are.

Last night I celebrated my three years of diabetes at a frozen yogurt shop in London.   It was nice to spend it with my newly found type 1 friends as well as two of my biggest supporters Vince and Michelle.    Vince was very engaged - asking the other girls questions about their pumps and applying it to my diabetes.

But, before I was about to head out I received a message from a fellow type 1 that came out to the first dinner we had - it read:

". . .  I have been waiting until today to let you know that 5 weeks after we met I chose to get my A1C taken again. It hadn't been another 3 months yet but I wanted to see what change interacting with other diabetics could make in just 5 weeks. I quite literally started tearing up at my last endo appointment when my doctor told me that in that short period of time my A1C dropped from 10.7% to 8.6%. It's not perfect, not even close, but it's a huge improvement in a short period of time and now I'm ranting but I just wanted to thank you for helping me actually start caring about my diabetes, 17 years later. 

Keep on doing what you're doing Kayla, you're helping more people than you know in both big and small ways" 

After tearing up reading such encouraging words - I really thought to myself, "Holy Cow! I can really make a difference..."  As much as I enjoy what I do, I guess I didn't completely realize how much of an impact I may have been making.   This message was completely inspiring and I have been incredibly blessed to have received similar letters of support recently - all in which I print off.

Yes, type 1 diabetics aren't common - but, the more we stick together the stronger we become.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The painting Michelle made for me for my anniversary. 
Today I received a phone call. They told me that my blood glucose level was 24 [432 mg/dl] and I needed to come into the doctor's office.   I finished off a cookie I had been eating on the couch with my sister, grabbed my purse and yelled upstairs to my mom, "I'm going to the doctor's my blood sugar is 24!"  I drove to the doctor's office and I couldn't tell you what I was thinking - or if I was thinking at all.  I paid for parking, or parked along the side of the road, and walked into the office to tell them I had just been called.

They sat me down in the waiting room with other patients coughing and hacking away.  I still hadn't figured out what 24 meant. I remember my mom texting me, just asking questions - she had to know it was diabetes, but she never said it once.   I was passed around from room to room, as the fill-in doctor tried to figure out what to do with me.  He seemed  a little but unsure, and what I hate the most was that he told me I would be most likely on pills. Nothing was said about needles.

I was there from morning until they were closing down, by the time I left the lights were off in the office.  It was confirmed I had diabetes, I made a couple calls and asked if I could go home and grab some things and then head to the hospital.   I wasn't scared of going to the hospital - it still hadn't hit me what was happening - after all it was just a pill I was going to have to take just like my Grandma and Grandpa.

When I got home I was flustered - I had already told my mom to start packing some things.  She was a little panicked too, she recalls she had to work that day, so she had to call in and say she couldn't go. She drove me to the hospital and I was instantly given a bed. Soon, I found out I would be given needles every four hours, and about those pills - they would be needles for the rest of my life.

I hardly cried, in fact I was smiling at the edge of the hospital bed, and the doctor said to me, "Why are you smiling - you've just been diagnosed with diabetes"  I just shrugged my shoulders, but now when I think about it, that smile that I got in 'trouble for' has never left and will never leave.

This was all three years ago to this day.  Today, I am actually just sitting there, enjoying a nice morning in London, Ontario. I have already graduated with a diploma of Liberal Studies, and now I am attending an amazing University.  I am sitting here, not having to take needles every day - I have a insulin pumps that keeps me alive.  I have met amazing people - and I am not even exaggerating. I have also done things I would have never dreamt of doing pre-diabetes. I've also managed to keep a blog going since that very moment I left the hospital.

Today is a celebration because I have accomplished so much since that very day in the hospital and I am healthy and happy which is most important.  I am an example of what diabetes can look like - it doesn't have to be a horror story, or a horrible life sentence - diabetes can be fun, happy, cute, exciting, and a drive to do your best.


Monday, March 12, 2012

He Gets it!

Diabetes is one of those things that it takes a lot of time to understand, if you are not living with the condition. With all the terminology, it's easy to get confused with that insulin does and doesn't do.  So, if my sugar is low, I need food, and if my sugar is high I need insulin.   Even though it seems simple to those that are having to treat these, it isn't as simple for those that just watch it happen.

Explaining diabetes to a person you just met is simple, you basically just tell them you have type 1 diabetes, they nod their head (sympathizing for you) and then they just begin to ask you a billion questions (all questions you have heard before).   After that, you hope you taught them a thing or two about type 1 diabetes without giving them the impression that they might have struck a cord with you when they asked if you can eat sugar? or will have diabetes forever?

It's a little more difficult to explain diabetes to someone that is going to live with you or be with you a lot - because it's not like you can give them all the quick answers a stranger would want - you kind of have to just have them learn through experience.   When I started dating with diabetes I thought about this.  When do I say I have diabetes? When do I say I have a pump?

However, it just sort of happened as I told Vince the first night I met him that I had diabetes - and frankly I cannot remember what he said, but he seemed pretty interested and has shown today that he is still in fact interested in learning about my diabetes.  He is always asking questions, and wanting to hear my speeches.  A lot of the time he has no choice as I ramble on about all the things I have been up too, but for the most part he is getting involved and learning.

Last night it sort of hit me that this boy sure does 'get it.' First, he asked me if I had googled why I had blood in my site (a couple weeks back) and after saying no I hadn't he began to say..."well you know..." he then admitted he had looked it up to see what it meant - and he found the answers! Secondly, he wanted to listen to my speech from the JD Camp.  It was 30 minutes long, and as I was getting bored with it - he insisted we keep watching.   After that he gave me great feedback, and we began to look at the Diabetic Meme page I created on Facebook.  (For those who don't know what memes are - google it!)

I don't really think those who don't know much about diabetes would understand the concept of Diabetic Meme's as appose to University Meme's that are pretty general, but Vince couldn't stop laughing.  He totally got it! He knew what was funny about having to ask the waitress several times if the drink was diet, and the whole idea of the insulin pump swinging wildly after falling out of a pocket.

After that we were sitting on the couch and I couldn't stop thinking about how supportive he truly was and most importantly, how much he really understood it.  I blabbered out, "I love how supportive you are.." and of course he asked why... and I listed off all the reasons why I feel that he is supportive.  It made him smile, just as much as it made me.

I realized that letting the people that love you the most learn about your diabetes through experience, is the best thing to do, and most importantly to make sure they know you appreciate how supportive they are being.


Click Here: Diabetic Meme Page

Sunday, March 11, 2012

JD Camp

On Saturday I got the privilege to go to the JD Camp and meet with some great families that are living with type 1 diabetes.   At first, I was in awe, as we walked into the dining hall and the children were sitting around the tables eating away. I saw meters on the table tops, pumps being pulled out and food scales. Of course, I've seen many diabetics dine before, but the difference was that these were children and assisting them,  was their parents, counting their carbs, measuring their food and making sure they were eating.

I just enjoyed observing, as strange as it sounds.  Being so used to seeing adults with pumps; rather than child, I was interested in how they managed their diabetes, realizing that it is pretty much the same, minus the parental guidance.  The camp is an excellent way to get children and parents involved as well as give the parents a little bit of a break - not so much from diabetes (since we are always talking about it..) but give them a break, knowing that their children were in fine hands, and not even a stones throw away.

Looking at our pumps!
I sat down with the parents as we talked about 'hot topics' regarding diabetes.   Susan and Ric,  parents of a now 23 year old diabetic, gave the parents and myself some insight that really proved that being diabetic is in know way an obstacle.  Other parents spoke about their experiences as well, I gave some of my insight as well, coming from being diagnosed much later in life, but showing similar difficulties and experiences. This shows that no matter how old you are diabetes is the same.

 Later on, I met a four year old diabetic, she was an adorable little girl, sporting a pink pump (and yes, I had to guess what colour her pump was as she hid it away in her case).    As I talked a bit with her, I couldn't stop thinking that everything I do with diabetes, she has to do as well. She has to get her finger pricked, she has to do site changes and she has to wear the pump 24/7 like me.     After, I asked her, "Do you like having a pump?"  and she replied with, "Yup! Do you?!"  

Soon, it was my turn to give my speech about living life with diabetes.   I just spoke to their parents and let them know when I was diagnosed and what I have done since being diagnosed almost three years ago.  Even though these parents have young children living with diabetes - hopefully they took away from my presentation that you can do anything you want with diabetes - there is no limits.


(I will post a link of my speech soon!)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Diabetes Research Centre

St. Joseph's Hospital - London, Ontario 
After Marsha, a RN at St. Joseph's Hospital in London reached out to me in an email about my blogs, I instantly wanted to meet her and see what the Diabetes Research Centre was up too! Marsha, diagnosed since she was 12 and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 30 years now.  She welcomed me to the centre and it was such a different scenery than what I was used to at my regular Diabetic Education Centre (D.E.C)

I was surprised at all the nurses and endocrinologists that they had there, coming from a fairly small D.E.C  myself, I was mesmerized by all the rooms and lists of nurses.  Soon, Marsha and I found a nice spot to socialize about our diabetes - coming from two perspectives, yet sharing a very common story. We quickly got into a conversations about diabetes educators and the issue of finding the perfect one, or at least one close to perfect.

Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit 
Being a diabetic herself, she seems like she would make an amazing nurse and she was incredibly easy to talk too and full of information.  There is also another nurse in the centre that is diabetic.  I've always said, I wish that the only qualification to be an endo. or a diabetes educator, was to be diabetic! I'd be the first in line for an job interview.

Another topic was the research that the clinic is doing, and I could tell that Marsha really enjoyed what she did working on the Diabetes Research Centre.   The one trial she talked about was about insulin pumps, sensors and going low in the middle of the night. It seems really interesting and I didn't realize how many trials are going on.

But, most of all what I took away from it was how something that feels so simple to me, is actually something big to many others.  This blog was created to let people know what happened to me, March 13th 2009, and now, almost three years later, I am sharing my entire life with the diabetes community and getting the most amazing feedback and meeting the most amazing people.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Midnight Cravings

Yes, I made this cupcake, but not in the middle of the night! 
"Isn't it amazing what our bodies can do?" - says the girl with the pancreas that retired way before her time was due.

I'm talking about going low in the middle of the night, when you have already been fast asleep for the past four hours, you've had plenty of vibrant dreams and then all of a sudden you have one strange dream, the dream that doesn't make sense - the dream that awakes you and makes you instantly want to eat a whole pizza, two Oreos and a milkshake.

That's when you know that, that cozy warm bed you're enjoying at the moment, is going to be no longer, as you feel for your glasses, put them on, hop out of bed, open your bedroom door, guide the way with your insulin pump light and find a nice spot in the kitchen to begin your munching.

But, how does our body know? I picture the little minions from Despicable Me inside, just telling my body, let's get up, you're about to crash!  So the 'dream real' begins to change into the worst dream possible, and before you know it you are up and ready to go.

Last night I woke up craving a glass of milk - this was my instant alert that my blood sugar was low.  I wanted to be sure, so I went over to my purse, sat on the floor, and took out my meter, pricker and strips.  Being so tired, I remember putting a strip in the meter, then pulling out another to do it all over again.   I was in the 3 range [54 mg/dl] so I headed to the kitchen for that treasured glass of milk.

I guess just like when we have to go the washroom in the middle of the night our body just knows, wakes up and takes care of it (hopefully..) but it still amazes me that blood sugars alter the way we awake, we wake up feeling strange, hungry and flustered.   Low blood sugars at night can be a nightmare to some, especially for those whose bodies aren't waking them up.

Luckily, I feel my lows and are able to treat them promptly and easily and yes, I should probably just stick a juice box near my bed to avoid having to leave my cozy bed, but half the fun of it, is raiding the kitchen and bringing it back to bed with you.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Injector or Pumper

Insulin Pump connected to lower back
If diabetics aren't comparing the differences between type 1 and type 2, then we are comparing how we treat our diabetes - multiple daily injections (MDI) or insulin pumps. We all find different ways to treat ourselves, and the truth is taking care of our diabetes isn't a one size fits all process. The injections work for some while the pump is seen as the next best thing since Banting and Charles Best.

We often think of the pump as being the new technology and who doesn't want the newest, greatest gadget on the market. But, like the iPhone and the Blackberry - there is always something new lurking around the corner that claims to have made it just right! If you decide on getting a pump now, only a few months down the road, a new one will be released - and no, you cannot just upgrade as easily as a cellphone or software update.

Personally, I use the insulin pump, but upon being diagnosed and hearing about it, I did not want it.  I didn't want anything to do with the pump. I remember my Uncle telling me all about it and thinking to myself there is no way I am wearing that thing 24/7.  Eventually, I caved in on a ride back to my residence in 2010.  I realized that the pump could potentially offer me something that the pens cannot. Of course, I didn't know what I could be missing, but I took a chance and decided to get on board with the pump.

However, there is no shame on being an injector or a pumper. Sometimes I envy the lack of tubing injectors have. Also their lack of all the other shenanigans that go with having a pump. Injections are original and simple and a lot of diabetics use this method in order to control their diabetes!

So whether you are an injector, a pumper or even a Metformin pill-popper - as long as you're doing your best to maintain your diabetes. I don't think we should discriminate - just appreciate!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Testing, Testing...

Me writing to Dr. Banting - Blood sugar: unknown

It's time to write your exam, you are ready to go, you've been studying for the past two hours, I mean weeks, and you really just want a passing grade.  You sharpened all five of your pencils, and memorized your student number, you can hardly wait until you get that sheet so you can begin. You decide to do one last test before the real test, you pull out your meter, 17.6 [316.8 mg/d] ..what?

All of the preparation and now all you can think about is how badly you have to use the washroom and how you'd love to just grab the girl's water bottle beside you and begin chugging and now you are feeling nervous. Can anyone tell I am high? I mean.. I have high blood sugar?   You start twitching and your stomach feels sick and you start to forget who C.S Lewis is and what happened in Narnia.

This is what is happening in the minds of diabetic students.  We get prepared just like all the other students, yet something can so easily distract us and take away all that we have prepared for.  It's so easy to get distracted by numbers, and no, not the number of questions or the math equations, but our own numbers.  Our own blood sugars alter us and take things from us - it takes time, patience, control, and most of all it can take away our grades.

Imagine what the difference could be if we always wrote tests at a 5.5 [99 mg/d]... but then again would we be worried that we might scoop below that during the test from stress?  What would be the perfect writing number and how realistic is it to nail it every time?  Now, I am not aware of studies about this connection and I don't doubt they are out there, but I honestly wonder if I would have done better one some tests, had I had a better number.

I prefer not to test before a test.  I feel like I am that good at altering my body, that if I see a number, I will act like my number.  "You're totally acting like a 21.8 [394.4 mg/d] now, stop.."  I prefer to know what my blood sugar was about two hours previous to the test, and not check until it is over.  You may be able to get away with an excuse of high blood sugar in elementary or high school, but I highly doubt any professor is going to excuse you while you run up and down the stairs in the lecture hall to lower your blood sugar.

On the other hand, low blood sugars are extremely important to correct at anytime.  The point is, is that you know your body and if you aren't keen on knowing when you are low, then my method of not checking before the test is not for you. Running high for a bit is manageable, but going low during a test can be dangerous and chances are if you don't catch a low, someone will be catching you.  Keep sugar tabs or a treat with you and make sure your teacher or professor knows ahead of time that you are diabetic (this is key! Don't be shy!)

Until then, keep being smart diabetics in every which way!


Monday, March 5, 2012

A Banting Moment

Nicola, Brianna, Daniela, and I on Banting's Bed.
When I realized that there were type 1 diabetics out there, that have never met another diabetic, I knew that I had to show them what is out there.  I was lucky, I was instantly introduced to diabetics when I was diagnosed and I hardly ever felt alone in my disease - in fact I don't really recall ever feeling like that.  I started a unofficial group for type 1 diabetics in London that allows those that felt alone in their disease to connect with one another and just feel 'normal' for at least a few hours.

Tonight we all took over Banting House in London, Ontario.   A total of fifteen diabetics entered the house in which Sir Fredrick Banting discovered insulin.   Our tour guide, Erika, who is also apart of our unofficial group, took us through the rooms and gave us all of the information alongside Grant, the curator of the Banting House.   

Giving Banting some credit! 
I think we all took away something very similar from the house as we saw the bed he had been sleeping on when he awoke with the idea of insulin, and as we saw the first ever insulin pump (not appealing) and as we heard about Banting's background and learned how he was such a multifaceted person. We realized that had it not been for Banting, we wouldn't have been standing in his bedroom, in fact we would have not been standing at all. 

Life before insulin was cruel and short.  Children died because of diabetes and now children can thrive, enjoy life and have the cake and eat it too!   Diabetes may be a life sentence in some sense, but the point is that we can now live our lives with diabetes.  We can be athletes, teachers, nurses, doctors, radio announcers, financial advisors, Olympic rowers, and students.   There is nothing stopping the diabetics of today - but something can stop diabetes.

The Flame of Hope
In our minds I am sure we were all begging for a cure as we toured the house.  We all felt a sense of hope, knowing that this man, Banting, saved our lives, now who was going to stop diabetes from taking over our lives.   We all want that cure so badly, we want to ditch the insulin pumps, throw away the needles (safely) and never have to see the blood come from ours fingers ever again.

As we left the Banting house, after taking a few pictures - we stood outside in front of the Flame of Hope.  This flame represents diabetes, and when a cure is found the flame will be no longer.  We crowded around to get a group picture, all hoping that the next time we take a picture in front of the flame, it will be no longer.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hockey Knight in London

Alexa & I

It was hockey night in London, Ontario and the Scotia Bank box was full of 50 type 1's and their families - Thanks to the JDRF.  We all packed into the box and the seats in front to get a good view of the game, but it wasn't just about supporting the London Knights (Max Domi and Jared Knight)  it was about bonding with other type 1's and especially bonding between the parents.

I was probably the oldest diabetic there among the crowd, as many of the diabetics were between the ages of five and fifteen.  It was so interesting to be surrounded by 'young' diabetics because I normally spend my time with young adults that live with diabetes, not children or teens.    But, I learned a lot last night, more than I realized I would.
I spent a lot of time talking to Alexa, she is a 12 year old type 1, who was diagnosed a year ago.   Her mom, instantly connected with me, after realizing I was the 'girl from the Londoner'  which made me feel great!   I knew that the newspaper article had at least touched one life or two.    Alexa, was incredibly sweet and energetic.  She really made me think of diabetes on a different level as she talked about recess, people taking her snacks and gymnastic and diabetes.      I realized that although diabetes is a similar disease for most, at different ages, diabetes provides it's own individual, modified challenges.

As the night went on and I met a bunch of different diabetics, all sizes!  I felt really good among them, knowing that a disease can bring this many people together.  The diabetic community is such a strong one, and because we have all walks of life involved, it also makes the community very interesting and a bank of great information, connections and stories.

After the hockey game was finished we impatiently waited for the two diabetic players to arrive, Max Domi (Ty Domi's son) and Jared Knight. Both came up with the wonderful hockey smell, ready to answer any of the questions the young diabetics had to ask.  Things like, "Where do you keep your pump?"  "Has anyone ever hit your pump?"  and "Did you have any highs or lows during the game?"   Max and Jared answered all the questions, then everyone formed a line to get odds and ends signed as well as a picture with the two up and coming hockey stars.

I decided to get a hockey stick signed by the two players and get a picture with them.  It was a great experience all around and I am so glad that I have been given such amazing experiences in the diabetes community.

Jared, Me and Max Domi


Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Babysitter


I have always been a babysitter.  It has been a go-to-job since I was twelve, which is perfect because I enjoy being with children and who doesn't love to get paid to have fun.  It's always been an easy job for me and it seems like all of the children I have babysat over the years enjoyed having me.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I knew that babysitting was going to be a little different. Not only did I need to worry about the children, but I had to keep some of my 'diabetes' priorities in check as well.  It's really, really easy to forget to take care of yourself when you are taking care of others. It isn't easy to treat low blood sugars when the children are asking for help putting together a game and it isn't easy to just stop playing a game of tag with them to go check your blood sugar.  

Most of the kids know that I have diabetes, and it starts by them asking what my pump is.  It isn't all that easy to explain and often times I resort to telling them that it is my medicine. I also worked with children at a daycare, so I would get this question frequently.   Usually, they don't think much of it, they might ask a few more questions like where the tubing goes and what it does and why I need it, but soon something has already distracted them and my pump is yesterdays news.

My most frequent children that I babysit are Ky, Nolan and Josh and really, I think of them more as my little brothers than anything else.  I have known these three since my first year at college (three years ago) and they have picked up the diabetes lifestyle pretty quickly.

I always enjoy hearing what they have to say about diabetes, and it's incredibly adorable when Josh tells me to check my blood pressure (when he means to say, my blood sugar). I never really realized what impact my diabetes could make on them, until I read a post made by Ky (he wanted to create a blog, so I made him one last week)

Now, let's see if you can read this without shedding a tear or smiling.

Please leave him some love on his page and encourage him to keep on writing just like his babysitter!  (P.s he's TEN!)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wanted: Working Pancreas

 dead or alive 
(Just kidding, I have the dead one, give me one alive!) 

Searching for a working pancreas that is up to the job, previously had one that failed me at the young age of eighteen.   

Pancreas must be able to produce insulin at least for a good chunk of my life span. 

Looking for a pancreas that will nestle in its home and fight against any viruses that may come and try and attack it (unfortunately, that may have been what happened to the last guy...)   

Not looking to have to worry about the pancreas doing its job right - so, I'm looking for a well trained pancreas to do the job.

If you're the pancreas I am looking for, please contact me. 

Will trade with lazy, 21 year old pancreas that retired three years ago.


Anita Pancreas