Sunday, April 29, 2012

Carry On

My trip to the Dominican is almost here, only one more sleep, then a partial one and I am off at 2 a.m Tuesday morning.  It hardly feels real yet, as I began packing the other day filling not only my suitcase but a quarter of Vince's which he is totally fine about since he is packing only a few things compared to my many things.   Hey! If I change my mind on what I want to wear, which we know how often that can happen...I want to have options.

The first task for packing was preparing my carry-on bag which contains ALL of my diabetic supplies including the extra insulin pump (loaned from Medtronic.)  In order to figure it out in my head, I put all the supplies on the floor to make sure I covered all bases. Yes, I use the supplies every three days, but when you're trying to pack it all, it can get a little confusing.   I knew that I wanted extra everything and after trying to figure out what extra meant, I decided I was going to bring all the sites I had in my drawer. So, originally I had about twelve sealed in a ziplock, but added the rest of the box which made it about fifteen at least.  I knew that that should be WAY more than I needed, seeing as I am going for eight days, which should work out to three site changes if I change my site tomorrow night.

I have travelled before, so I don't know why I felt so overwhelmed trying to figure out how much to bring.  I just started to fear the what-ifs, which I usually tell myself to stop doing or else I will end up living in a bubble.  So, the backpack is full of supplies, and hopefully more than I intend to use, because fifteen site changes in eight days would be dreadful.  I also put my note from my nurses in my bag just in case. I had to use this note before when I was in the airport in Panama, I always figure I am fine in Toronto, it is coming home when diabetes appears to be foreign to them at times (which is odd, because there are type 1s living in those locations...) Anyways, I like to be prepared with a note!

Of course I brought along alcohol swabs, reservoirs (not a million because most of the time those can be reused if anything were to happen) syringes, glucose tabs, an extra meter, an insulin pen, and a few other things to go along with it. I have yet to add insulin, of course, since it is in the refrigerator until Monday night.  I had a little room to put in a few magazines, gum and snacks, but really there isn't too much room left in my backpack for anything unrelated to diabetes.

I like to keep all my diabetic supplies on me, just in case.  It would be horrible to pack it all in a suitcase, only to lose the suitcase for some reason. It is better if I just have it on me, just in case I need it.  After being panicking about packing it all, I couldn't imagine watching it on a conveyer belt headed off into the unknown. I am just fine knowing it is on my back...or Vince's!

All in all, I am really looking forward to getting away after my last exam tomorrow.  I am going to say I may attempt to write, but chances are it won't be until I get back. So don't lose faith in the blog, just know the writer is lying on the beach thinking of what to write when she gets home!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

With a Smile

School has finished with and after having ten days off, I have one more exam to right on Monday morning.  Although I have pretty much finished off my second year of University, I am finding myself debating what to do with my University degree more now than ever.  Under my belt already I have an insulin pump...err.. I mean a liberal studied diploma and with that I have advanced a year in University.  However, my original choice was to do a major in Psychology, but realized the math portion was scary me deeply, so I decided to declare an English major instead.

I have been told more than once that an English major was not going to land me a job which is an issue if it proves to be true.  I have considered being a teacher for many, many, many years, but the way elementary school teachers are being hired, or should I say, not hired... I am better off thinking ahead of the game and finding something else that interests me for now. The next thought was to work at Fanshawe College after I was finished, after all I am an alumni and know the professors very well, this option is still out there and knowing that they will most likely want me to get my masters, I have to be willing to commit myself to more schooling than I am already tied down to.

It wasn't until about a few weeks ago when I attended the Family Day for diabetics and their families at the Lamplighter Inn in London did I consider another job possibility.  I was asked to help with the 45 minute teen talk and of course I looked at it as a great opportunity to get to know the London diabetes community as well as learn some new life lessons and it was both those things wrapped up in 45 minutes. But, it also started making me think about possibly getting involved in social work.

I don't know too much about social work and I suppose that is why they make you attend University for it, but either way, just talking with the teens made me feel great, the 45 minutes flew by as I worked along side other social workers and I just wanted the day to go on for hours.   It was such an uplifting and powerful experience and with that I went home wondering what it would be like to work as a social worker in the diabetes education centres.

After doing some googling I realized the program was offered at Kings College which is where I am enrolled.  I made an appointment with the head there and met with her talking about what I was looking to do and how I could get there.   I was very clear that I would only want to do social work within the diabetes community and as the words came out of my mouth I did realize I sounded shallow minded, wiling only to help those who were like me, but that wasn't the case.

I know that I could be a benefit to those struggling with diabetes and being a social workers, being that support branch and extra knowledge that non-diabetic social workers don't have - would only be an added advantage. It wasn't that I thought other possible jobs for social workers was unfit for me,  I just knew that I would be best in a diabetic education environment, and that is the only reason I would consider switching my program from English to Social Work.

She told me that I could do both while I was at Kings, which is nice and I could start working towards the social work program during the summer, which is still up for consideration. I am not truly sure where my life is taking me and I think that is the fun of it all. I have made a unique life for myself and like Vince tells me, "you're a different kind of  girl, and by different, I mean that in the best way possible."

I know that whatever I do in life will be worth my time. A steady job at McDonald's is perfect for some, but nothing that I would be interested in doing.  I love the motivational speaking I do, and the community involvement I get to participate in, and even though a lot of what I do is unpaid and takes a lot of time, I truly enjoying being out there and doing all that I can.  Seeing others smile from what I have created is a great feeling.

So, although I am expecting that my life choices will change along the way, after all I am only twenty-one, I know one thing for sure is that everything I do will be with my full heart and I will do it with a smile.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Alerts

Do you wear a medic alert bracelet?  Usually that is how we identify another diabetic in the crowd, or at least we try to get a glimpse of what is written on it.  "Darn! An allergy," we might say as realize we aren't sitting beside another diabetic.  Medic alert bracelets are usually one of the first thing recommended by professionals after being diagnosed and for very good reasons; however, is every diabetic wearing them?

I shamefully have my head down right now as I write this blog because I do not wear a bracelet anymore. I wore mine for about 2.5 years of being diagnosed, recently deciding to ditch the bracelet hoping my insulin pump would do me justice. Of course, I know just as much as everyone else knows the importance of actually wearing the bracelet and even better, having specific things written on it.  Although, all mine said was, "Type 1 Diabetes."

Why have I ditched my bracelet? I just didn't want to wear it anymore. I wish I had a better reason that made me seem like my decision was vital, but it wasn't anything in particular. I just didn't want that to be a part of my identity anymore, which is strange, but I was tired of having the same thing on me, once again a strange statement considering I am hooked up to an insulin pump.   The bracelet was ugly, (yes I am aware you can get 'pretty' ones) but mine wasn't. I love my cheap Forever 21 costume jewellery and the medic alert wasn't doing it justice.

Yes, having others aware of your diabetes is more important than looking good, but at the same time, I just had given that part up - if I could change one thing it was to not wear the bracelet, put a card in my wallet, wear an insulin pump, always have my supplies in my bag and if I was with people I knew (which is 90% of the time) let them know I had diabetes.

NOW! This isn't permission to not wear a bracelet, and yes, there are some pretty ones out there like ones made with pearls etc. However, I do want to emphasize that they are important and save lives.  If you are updating them with say, Medic Alert (something we did not do...) and wearing it, then give yourself a pat on the back from me.  There are also a lot of neat ones that I saw many of the male teens wearing at Teen Talk, which was dog tags!    So explore the options!

Speaking of options, lately we started collecting people's photos of their diabetic tattoos on the Type 1 Diabetes Meme Page.  These people have decided to ditch their medic alert bracelets like me, but instead get a tattoo to replace it, (NOT LKE ME!)  Grandma... if you're reading this don't worry!    These tattoos are super unique and some of them I wonder how they even thought of them, but all in all they represent type 1 diabetes in some form or another. If you're interested in checking out the collection, click here:  Diabetes Tattoos! 

This new approach to expressing type 1 diabetes is fascinating and has many people asking, "Well what if there is a cure?"  But, to be honest, I will answer on others behalves, if there is a cure, getting rid of a type 1 diabetic tattoo would be the last thing to think about!

So, for whatever reason, not everyone I am sure is wearing a Medic Alert bracelet to express their type 1 diabetes.  We all know why it is important and why we should wear it, but there is still personal reasons why people decide not to, and I would hope that we wouldn't blame those people for being irresponsible or selfish.  


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hierarchy of Needs

The Hierarchy of Needs that I created in relation to Diabetes. 
Most people know about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and if you're a University student chances are it has come up in one of your courses.  Basically to give a Maslow lesson in a paragraph, he created a pyramid chart to show the levels of needs a human has starting with basic needs such as food and water to more complex needs such as self-acualization.

This whole idea interests me, not just because I am a psychology student, but also because I wonder if even though Maslow made this basic structure for human kind, is it different for everyone and really, it is... because on that very bottom level where we need water, sex, food, sleep etc, all diabetics can add insulin there. (If you are interested in Maslow's Hierarchy of needs please google it!)

Of course diabetics are human, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is relevant to anyone, or at least in my opinion.  He covers the 5 main topics which are, psychological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization.    All of these can be turned into useful tools in figuring out how to master our diabetes and feel good about ourselves at the same time. I created my own chart of a Diabetic's Hierarchy of Needs and  I think that it is relevant and useful.

The first basic step which Maslow describes as 'Psychological' for a diabetic is having food supplies, water and insulin.    Before insulin was invented, the result of diabetes was fatal (Thank you Mr. Banting!)  and because we have insulin now, diabetics can thrive and enjoy life just as long as any other person.  Life without insulin for a diabetic might as well be a life without food or water.  Insulin is the lifeline and if you have it along with some other bare necessities than you've met the first stage.

The second step Maslow describes as 'Safety.'  This is when having all of the supplies in order to manage you diabetes comes into play.  We are lucky to have such amazing technology, while people still choose to use syringes, having supplies like insulin pumps and pens is common.  Other supplies that diabetics keep on hand are things like alcohol swabs, test strips, glucose meters, sugar tabs, glucagon etc.    All of these supplies are a safety net; however, this isn't always as easy without insurance or money.  That is another part of the safety step, having the coverage or saved money in order to feel safe living with diabetes.

The third step Maslow says, is 'Love & Belonging.'  Support is vital in surviving life with diabetes, having the support system to back you up when you need it the most. This comes from your friends and family as well as the large diabetes online community that exists out there through blogs like mine and Facebook groups.     If you have the necessities and the safety net, then you can enjoy that support system you have that keeps you smiling and healthy.   The diabetes online community (DOC) plays a large role in many type 1 diabetic's lives, more and more I see parents reaching out for their children looking for tips and tricks on making diabetes easier for everyone.

The fourth step that Maslow talked about was 'Esteem.'   It is hard to have strong self esteem when living with anything unordinary.  No matter where you go, you will be different. You're the one with the insulin pump in your back pocket or the one checking their blood sugar at the table, but if you feel O.K with that, then you're doing fine!

The last step is, 'Self-Actualization.'   I believe that this is the end all be all in living well with diabetes.  When you can accept diabetes in all ways than chances are you are doing well.  If you know the complications, yet want to define all odds, than you're more likely to be checking more often.   Accepting diabetes isn't easy! it is very easy to be discouraged and give up and want to just go back to the basics of diabetes and not look for support.

Even though I created my own hierarchy of needs using Maslow's guide, I think that it can be useful when trying to sort out your own diabetes and look at it through a different perspective.  Looking at this, you cant tweak it to see where you stand and so that you are able to reach the very top, accepting diabetes.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Are You Smarter than an Endo?

Often people tell me that they were once told that eventually they will know more about diabetes than their endocrinologist or nurse.   I full heartedly believe this statement, in fact I think that is true within the first several months a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  The truth is,  we all as diabetics live the diabetes life 24/7 and despite the fact that most endocrinologists and nurses have spent years and years, not to mention thousands of dollars preparing to work with diabetics - in the end the one injecting insulin and pricking their fingers has the most knowledge.

Now, this isn't a bash on the health care team that supports us, in fact without them at times we would be lost. They have a purpose in our lives as we visit them every three months or so.   They work as part of our support team, just on the medical side of things, but occasionally for those personal moments as well (but mostly medical...)   But, what I am trying to say is that little seven year olds living with diabetes, 13 year old teenagers, fifty year old type 1 veterans, they all know what's going on despite their lack PHD, perhaps.

Even though I have heard this statement plenty of times, it didn't hit me until I was sitting in on my endocrinologist/diabetic education appointment that I realized the words coming out of the doctor's mouth, basal, bolus rates, insulin, suspended pumps, hypoglycaemia - all these words I knew of course, but meant something different to me. To be honest, when my doctor talked about basal adjustments, in my head I was thinking, do you even know what that means? and OF COURSE, she knows what that means, what was I thinking when I thought that? But really, to me, adjusting basal rates really meant something, it meant adjusting my life line, tweaking insulin, being the guinea pig in my own life experiment.

It wasn't that I didn't trust what the doctor had to say about my blood sugars, not at all. In fact I knew I had some tweaking to do with my rates, it was just that for some reason I felt like we were on two different plants, yet using the same language.      I say these words often, "I am going to bolus for this"  or "I corrected, but I think something else is going on..."  these words come out of my mouth all the time, but when it is splattered on a paper in front of a panel of judges nurses and endocrinologists then it is a whole different ball game. Now, you have to both talk about the same thing, just from two different perspectives.

I don't believe that I know everything there is to know about diabetes, but I also believe that if I wanted to know everything, I could find it out, learn it, live it, do it, breath it - within a matter of seconds.   I choose what I want to do with my diabetes and what I want to know.  I know the complications; however, I couldn't explain them all to you because that is something I rather not indulge in.  My knowledge of diabetes isn't from a textbook or lecture from a top school, I don't have a diploma hanging on my wall saying "She knows diabetes...very well.. in fact, she's a professional."  But, of course I don't need all that.

I am content with my vials of insulin, purple pump, USB meter and the highs and lows of diabetes, and the endocrinologists can have the pleasure of having their title, diplomas, and expensive textbooks and somewhere we will meet in the middle to help each other out!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Letting Go

I love when I get opportunities to just observe. I find watching people fascinating and when it comes to diabetes, I get even more out of it.  It's amazing how diabetes can touch so many lives, yet be a unique experience for everyone.  Today, I had my endocrinologist appointment as well as an appointment with a dietician, nurse and social worker.  The team was running behind, so I got a chance to observe the waiting room.

My clinic is fairly small, so I was surprised how much I got from spending an hour in the waiting room as I was watched mothers and fathers sit with their young adult diabetic children. Without sounding like I was being completely nosey, I did realize one thing that I am sure applies to a lot of mothers and fathers or caregivers of diabetics which is when do you let go?

First off, I was surprised to see about three young adults come into the clinic because most of the time there is either no one or there are older type 2 patients. So, I instantly wanted to tell them about my blog, but I refrained hoping the message of the blog would be passed on from the nurses.   However, what I did realize was that I was the only patient there without a parent by my side.

This sounds sad, but in a way I have never thought about inviting my mother or father along with me for my appointment. In fact the only time they tagged along was when I was diagnosed and already in the hospital. Other than that I have managed my diabetes by myself, I have taken responsibility to book appointments, show up, make sure I have done what I needed to do (occasionally forgetting to do things like blood work etc.)  and that is just how it has been for the past three years.

When I came into the room, two mothers were talking about their children and honestly, it sounded like they were talking as if their children were not in the room.  It was interesting, because she did mention that her child was in his/her 20's and it was strange how her child said nothing the entire time as the other mother asked questions like, did he/she have a hard time as a teenager?  does he/she use an insulin pump?     I wanted to pull the diabetic out of his/her seat and say, "Let's just go for a walk, so your mother can talk about your diabetes..."

It seemed so strange to me, why were literally adults bringing their parents to appointments? Is this okay? Is it normal to have your parents join you? Is this something that diabetics who have had diabetes for a long time do?  Am I the only one that goes alone?   All of this was going through my mind, not too worried that the chair beside me was empty because I felt comfortable being on my own.

Now, that on its own can be answered by those that bring their parents with them to appointments - and really I get it, sometimes having a shoulder to lean on for those brutal appointments is a good way to get through them, in fact I can imagine myself in the future bringing Vince to see what it is all about; however, what I began to hear next really interested me.

As the diabetics one by one got called in, the patients looked at their parents and asked, "Do you want to come in?"  then the awkward, "Do you want me to come in?"  back and forth went on, as the parents were unsure if they should join in on them. Finally, one of the mothers decided to go in and said, "I haven't been checking up on my child, so I won't stay in the whole time..."  

The other mother decided to stay back as she proclaimed that she wanted her child to be more independent. She even refused to make the next appointment without her child's permission. She made it very clear that she was letting her daughter take the reigns of her diabetes. Was this the point that she decided to let go?

I cannot imagine how hard it is as a parent to let your diabetic child go. Let them try to figure it all out on the own without constant nagging and reassurance.  We all know the complications of diabetes, we know what high blood sugar does, what low blood sugar can do, and most of all how easy it is to neglect it.    The job of making appointments and attending them at some point needs to be passed on, and I am sure a lot of diabetics feel that desire to hold on as well.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writing, Checking, Bolusing

I often wondered what keeps us motivated as diabetics.  What stops us from ripping out our sites and throwing our insulin pumps and tubing across the room? As much as I wonder this, at the same time the obvious reasons come to mind such as wanting to stay alive, but despite knowing the obvious reason, what else is it? Why do we sometimes think about giving up when our pump goes flying into oncoming cupboards or strip after strip has 'not enough blood' to get a reading on our meter?

CIM Beach Volleyball - Sick of Pricks Team!    
None of us asked for diabetes and unfortunately, a lot of diabetics do not know any different.  Around us surround people who can eat carbs freely and can just fret over the needle from blood work they get once a year, but for us as diabetics we are doing this every single day, we are counting carbs, testing our blood sugar, giving ourselves needles and constantly fighting to keep smiling or at least keep content.   I hear horror stories of people wanting to give up and avoiding checking their blood sugars or taking insulin - is diabetes really taking lives in such an emotional way?

We always here about diabetes complications being drastic measures of amputation or loss of eye sight, but does anyone really dive into what it does to your mind.  How it can make you stronger as easily as it can make you weak.  This goes for diabetic mothers and fathers as well, a good hour of diabetes control can lead to four hours of frustration - nothing can predict a good day of diabetes - it isn't a matter of fact of what side of the bed you wake up on.

For me, motivation comes from my involvement within the community. Behind closed doors I am still diabetic as much as I am in the public. I equally am conscious about my diabetes and yes, it may be easier to just shut up, check and bolus, but at the same time, if I was stuck in the daily routine of diabetes, I would be going crazy. I personally need to be out there, I need to be available, I need to create something that isn't there, I need to smile, I need to have humour about my diabetes, I need to have something to be proud about, I need to know I know something about something that most people don't and I NEED that support and feedback that keeps me writing, checking and bolusing.  I NEED THAT.

That is my motivation from keeping me throwing my insulin pump into the neighbours backyard and to keep checking my blood sugar.   I know that this doesn't work for everyone, not everyone enjoys writing or being the centre focus in the diabetes community. I get that, as much as pumps aren't for everyone and neither are multiple daily injections.  Diabetes is full of diversity, different meters, different pumps, different insulins, different strips and most importantly different people.

So what motivates you and if you haven't found it yet - keep searching, please keep searching because the most important thing about you, is that you're here today!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beyond Your Pump

I haven't ever counted, but I can only imagine that I know more than two hundred type 1 diabetics.  By saying know, I mean that I can list off names or find them on my Facebook friend list. I was extremely lucky to be introduced to so many diabetics as soon as I was diagnosed and it has grown enormously over the past three years. I am so thankful for such a strong support system.

However, as I was sitting doing the usual Facebook search I realized that out of all my type 1 friends I really did not know that much about them at least as much as I wished I knew.  Of course I knew that they were type 1, and if they were on an insulin pump or injections, using a USB meter or a one touch mini and if they used Nova Rapid, but really I hadn't quite figured out their lives yet. 

Now, it would be a little hard to take the time to get to know everyones story and by story I don't mean how they got diagnosed, but really their life story. But, I do really want to know so badly what makes them who they are today and I am sure that story somehow coincides with their diagnosis. If you're wondering what really led to me wanting to know more about my fellow type 1's - it is that I watched the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and as much as I did understand the message and the movie, what I took from it was to examine lives and learn from them.  The main character met so many people along his journey and had something to remember them by - I couldn't simply just remember my type 1 friends as... that girl that had diabetes since she was five, wore an insulin pump, used a contour meter and used 30 units of Nova Rapid a day.    

So, this is the next task at hand alongside many. I want to know YOU! I want to know my type 1 readers, face to face friends, online friends, diabesties, hardworking diabetic mothers and fathers - I want to know you for what makes you, you beyond diabetes.  Things that you find interesting, books you would recommend, your idol, your favourite song anything that you want to tell me. So please, please tell me!  Write in the comments below, I want to see beyond your diabetes, your insulin pumps, injection pens and insulin because diabetes does make us into the strong girls, boys, men and women that we are today, but we are so individual and unique - that's what makes it amazing.


Friday, April 20, 2012

My Happiness Project

I have been considering myself happy for the past three years which coincides with my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.  I have made countless efforts to maintain my happiness in the past three years by not letting things get the best of me, especially when it comes to managing diabetes, but not exclusive to that.   In fact many things that have made me unhappy on occasion in the past three years had nothing to do with being a type 1 diabetic.   As much as diabetes is a lot of work other things in my life that seem to linger in the background take more of a toll on my happiness.  

When I posted this photo on Facebook, everyone commented
on how Happy we looked this proves
Happiness shines through. 
To say that I am at my happiest wouldn't be an exaggeration, although I know in the future I will feel happier than I am at this moment because life just gets better, or at least I love to think that way.  I have managed to take my life and turn it into something that most would think was just handed to me.  So many people comment on how 'lucky' I am yet I am attached to a 18 inch tube and plastic box full of insulin.   Luck, maybe, but really I know how hard I have worked to achieve what I have and one of those achievements is being happy. 

One of my very best and close friends let me borrow her book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and she noted that she had made her own notes within the book.   At first I thought these notes and highlights were the instant response of any professor to do to a book, being that her occupation; however, I found myself making notes (not in her book, but in my notebook) highlighting what I thought was important and for some parts I did highlight similar ideas, but over all I got much different ideas out of the book than her showing that finding happiness is different for everyone.

But, what Rubin did was provid the background for all happiness allowing her readers to find what they wanted and to hum and ha over it for the night or several nights.  At first I wasn't sure if this book was for me because I kept thinking it was designed for someone who had a family and a husband, but as I indulged into it a little more I realized that that wasn't true at all. Just like non-diabetics found light in my blog when they may have never been in touch with diabetes in their life.    Soon, I was filling my notebook with scribbles of ideas that made me smile and think more about what happiness was and how I could not only remain happy, but amplify it.

The first thing I wrote down came a bit later in the book and that was directly related to my blog. WRITE MORE!  I have dedicated readers, I know that for sure, so why not make sure I am providing them with something to read about every single day.  Although, writing every day isn't always ideal and Rubin often talks about giving yourself some slack.  I wanted to do this for my readers as well as myself.  I have a lot to say, as many people know and I also have really identified with my blog.  My blog has become something that I look forward to writing in every day and sometimes I have to hold myself back from making multiple entries - in this case I write what I want to say and then put a timer on it to come out the next day to avoid multiple entries.     

The second thing was not about my blog at all, but about everything else in my life, DON'T NAG! and nagging was something that I was pretty good at.  It is so easy to nag someone about something, but when I thought about it more, I realized that nagging someone to do something just shows that you don't trust that they will do it.  I kept reminding myself not to constantly feel like I need to remind someone to do something, because chances are they have not forgotten about it.   I hate being nagged at, so why would I want to do it to someone else? 

This also worked along with Rubin's ideas of having EXTREME NICE WEEKS, but this sort of made me wonder why I wouldn't just always be extremely nice to the people around me.  I guess it is hard to be extremely nice, but at the same time, like Rubin states, it is okay to fail sometimes.   So, with all my might I do want to try and be extremely nice so that people remember me that way and know that they can go to me knowing that I will be, well, extremely nice to them.

Going by what I have in my note book I instantly must have realized that FAILURE IS OKAY because that is what is next on the list of many.  I am the worst person to take criticism, in fact there is something about me where I usually think I am always right...but I am, really... just kidding.  I do not like when people tell me that I am wrong or that something I am doing isn't okay.  Even sometimes blog comments make me upset as people try to tell me that I didn't really examine the two sides of the coin, when in reality, my blog is the truths of myself and especially how I view diabetes.   I realized that not only is failure okay, but so is disagreements.   It is okay if I do not agree with someone, if they do not agree with me and if in the end it just does not work out.

This next one was something I instantly did as soon as I read it, GET RID OF CLUTTER, I have this weird obsession with keeping things that have no real place within my apartment, like a tiny envelope with my grandmother's handwriting on it, as much as I wanted to hold onto it, I knew that I had plenty of things like birthday cards with her perfect handwriting on it.   I had numerous files and photos on my desktop that made me feel frustrated every time I opened up my lap top. I began working with my desktop and getting rid of what was there to display the pretty desktop picture I have of Vince and I, that was hidden by files before.    I then worked on a few other parts of my room that were not super cluttered, but still needed to be dealt with.  It felt good and even though my room was usually tidy, it seemed a lot cleaner.

GET SMALL PROJECTS DONE this was something that intrigued me. I love projects! I love having something to do and finishing them and with school it is hard to do the things that we love the most, but I guess the reason I am so happy in the first place is because I don't stress about school and focus a lot of my efforts on feel good projects.   When I think about it, really no project I start is small, but the reason I wrote this down was because I did want to conquer some small projects and especially of a crafty nature.   It reminds me of one night when my best friend Michelle and I were bored at the apartment and decided to take a trip to the dollar store and get some canvases, paint and a couple paint brushes.  Here we were, young adults sitting watching Finding Nemo and painting pictures. But, honestly, it was so relaxing and we both got a couple laughs at Michelle's mysterious exploding heart picture that ended up being a nice art piece for our apartment living room for a long time. 

GO OFF THE PATH and I did this running once I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes - boy did I ever.  There is something about knowing your life is precious that kick starts a person to start living more and I relate that to the idea expressed by Rubin, to go off the path.  I was tired of living like the average joe (whoever that is!) for almost nineteen years of my life and to be honest I spent a lot of time previous to my diagnosis  wondering what made me special.   I realized that being dormant in your own life is sad and that there are so many opportunities out there if you just go off the path.  More and more I am pushing myself to do this and with that comes great experiences and this reminded me to keep trekking on the unknown road ahead of me.

A Quotation that I enjoyed. 
I am constantly trying to not only make myself happy, but others and that was something that Rubin pointed out, MAKE OTHERS HAPPY.  I love the feeling of talking to other diabetics and receiving their letters and emails and knowing that I made them happy, but sometimes I forget how important it is and most importantly what lasting impression it can leave on somebody else.  When someone else smiles, nods in agreement, waves, or hugs you, you know that you have done something right and in turn makes you happy - now to remember to try and make others happy, every single day.

BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER by this part of the book I felt like Rubin somehow knew that I would read this.  I began to realize that everything she was talking about, I was somehow doing and maybe that is why I am as happy as I am today.  She obviously knew what she was talking about because with the things she mentions I am living proof that it can put a smile on your face.  When she talked about bringing people together I instantly thought about my type 1 group that I had started in London and I then started thinking about how much I am going to miss everyone once they all finish exams and head back to their families.    The first time, I had about fifteen type 1 diabetics sitting around the table at Jack Astor's I felt so good and I knew that they felt so good being all together, checking their blood sugars, drinking diet coke and dialling up their insulin pumps. 

At this moment, I wrote in my notebook a quote from the book because it made me put it down, lay on my floor, look out my window (a nice view now that the leaves are on the trees) and think about what happiness was and why I felt so happy being who I am and where I was.   

"Happiness isn't something we should consider only when life is going well, also Happiness isn't something we should consider only when things are going wrong"    - my apologies if this isn't 100% correct, however this is what was in my notes. 

This then lead to a rush in reading as I finished the rest of the book within the next hour or so with moderate breaks to snack or just sit there and think.  The next thing I jotted down was CREATE SOMETHING THAT WASN'T THERE I had to laugh as I knew that I had created enough on my plate for now like this blog and the Diabetic Meme Page and a Pen Pal system, but I knew that there was so much more to create and feel good about doing.  I could create whatever I wanted and with exams finishing, I had the time to create things and really think about what I wanted to do with my time.  

The next is something that I had to think about before I wrote it down, in fact I kept reading before pulling out my pen, then realizing that it was stuck on my mind and I needed to write  it down and I would figure what it meant later. This was EXPECT A MIRCLE. I am not crazy to think that things just happen am I?  I have had some weird, but good things happen just out of no where and to say it was a miracle sounds a tad bit artificial, so it is much easier to classify it as something that just happened.   The more I thought about this idea I started to think about chance and how chance is a good way to think about outcomes.  If I put my heart into something, something big and something with risks, that is taking a chance, and with that I just need to, well, expect a miracle. 

Then it hit me, another quote that stopped me in my reading tracks. I pulled out the notebook and wrote:

"The Days are Long, but the Years are Short." 

Anyone who wouldn't agree with that statement is probably under the age of twelve. It seems as you get older it all starts to speed up.  We have those slow days, but before we know it it is Christmas again or your birthday.  I remember asking my mom why this happens.  Of course she didn't have an answer as to why time went by so fast, but she did acknowledge that time goes by fast as you get older.  It made me sad, knowing that I am only 21 years old and I can feel the years flying by.  

The next two things went together and boy, did they capture what living in an apartment of five girls is all about. DON'T GOSSIP and FIND SOMETHING GOOD TO SAY. When I was little I would imagine what it would be like to attend University and have roommates.  My long time friend Sydney and I would make homemade VHS movies capturing what we thought young adult life was like, living in the same room, talking about 'geometry class' and boys that we liked.  As much as I wish all that happened, and hey! sometimes it does, despite the fact I am not sure if a 'geometry class' exists in University.  Living with other people is hard, and has proven to be hard for all kinds of people.  It is way too easy to gossip with texting, Facebook and just plain old talking and it has consumed the lives of many roommates and friends alike.    It hurts my feelings to know that I have gossiped before and have been gossiped about, so as hard as it is to stop it will be something I attempt.  To avoid gossiping, I want to try to start saying good things about people all the time, if I don't like something you do in particular, I will instead find something that doesn't bother me about you.  Sadly, this will be the hardest task that I try to conquer.

PURSUE A PASSION was the next thing I began to jot down after feeling guilty about my issue with  gossip drama.  I had so many passions and really enjoy everything that I am involved in, but I still know there is more out there that I want to attempt.  But, without cluttering my life, I wanted to focus on a couple passions that meant the most to me which was writing and doing motivational speaking - two things I am extremely passionate about.

Well, that is when the next thing Rubin listed made me now truly believe she had Kayla Brown in mind when writing this novel, which was just that, WRITE A NOVEL.  I had been writing stories since I was little, stories of fathers who worked in Kraft Dinner factories and scary stories of haunted house.   Which reminds me how pleased I was when I saw that Ky, (the oldest Maheu boy that I babysit) was interested in creative writing.     As many of my fans maybe know, I am looking to turn the idea of my blogs into a book. I am currently working on this novel and aiming for August to have it published and out there.  This is my passion, this is something that young pre-diabetic Kayla would be so proud to know.   This is a dream and happiness goal that I will accomplish - I promise. 

The last two things I wrote down are a great way to end my thoughts on the Happiness Project, because honestly, I never thought I would take so much from a 200 page book that I borrowed.   The second last note being, BE A KIND SPIRIT. More than ever do I want to be known as the lady that touched the lives of many, that made people smile, that was happy and joyful, brilliant and sweet.  I want to make a lasting impression when I leave a room and know that what I do in my life is important.  I think having this goal is what makes me happy. My goal is not to be the richest in the bank, but the be the richest in my heart.  So badly, do I want to be the person my friends can text or call any time.  I have made attempts to show my kind spirit by urgently responded to fan emails and letters and making sure to give a hug to all those that I meet (sometimes I feel like I must refrain for professional reasons...) but when I do give a hug I want it to be warm and make the other person think, "what a kind spirit...." that is a big happiness goal.

The last note to end on, is MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH. Rubin talked more about making herself laugh, but I have no problem doing that. I always think my jokes are funny and if my I am not laughing at my own jokes I am laughing at the silly things I accidentally do, which is clearly a trait I get from my mother.  But, I have been lucky to be able to do the speeches that I do, because there is no better feeling than hearing the crowd laugh at your jokes.  I want to inspire people when I stand in front of them, but to hear them laugh, now that is amazing and a good way to boost happiness of everyone in the room including yourself. 

And then diabetes appeared...
After that, something I didn't write down, but took a picture of was when Rubin briefly talks about her sister, Elizabeth who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. To be honest, I stopped, looked up and said, WHOA! out loud. I instantly wanted to meet Gretchen and Elizabeth, and share my story of type 1 diabetes and welcome her with open arms to visit all the type 1 diabetics I knew.   This gave the book an extra like from me.

So, that concludes my notes from what I got from reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I know that it has changed me in some small and big ways, but beyond change it has made me realize just how happy I already am and that what I am doing is right, important and most of all leading me to a life full of happiness. 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chasing Gold Stars

My endocrinologist/diabetic education appointment is approaching fast and with that in mind we are always being more conscious of our blood sugar readings. For me, when I am trying really hard to prevent high blood sugars I often find myself falling into incredible lows in the middle of the night or during the day.  Unfortunately, there is something about being obsessive about insulin delivery that makes a diabetic go wild when trying to stay below, say a 9 mmol/l [162 mg/dl].  However, there is also something that I have found interesting about my mind set when trying to conquer the wrath of diabetes and I have found that I am not alone in this thought, as diabetics we much rather see lows than highs.

I have been thinking about this idea for awhile now and wondering why we are much happier to see a 3 [54] the odd time than see a 28 [504] the odd time.  I started to wonder if it comes from the pressure to have amazing a1c which are made possible with within range blood sugars or a good percentage of low blood sugars.   It seems that were are constantly being reminded that having within range blood sugars, or in words of other's mouths, "GOOD" blood sugars, that we are on the right path and we will receive that gold sticker and pat on the back because we managed to mange our diabetes all by ourselves.

As diabetics we feel extremely disappointed when we test our fingers and see a flashing 16 [288] it isn't like we were aiming for high blood sugar.  We are disappointed because we have the tools to stay within the range that doctor's want to see and that we want to see as well, but for some reason we aren't able to maintain it.   With insulin, I still fail to have a 'perfect' day.

When we go low, I know for myself, I feel like I did do something right despite the fact that going low is not a good feeling.   I feel like I managed to avoid snacking or that I am able to use my insulin in a way that covers all the food I have had, in reality, it isn't the fact that you are an amazing insulin distributor, it is that you may have taken too much insulin for your last meal (of course there are other circumstances such as alcohol consumption,  exercise or stress...) but in the realm of things, going low doesn't seem as shameful as going high.

Those perfect, good blood sugar, tighten a1c's and gold stars are hard to come by.  They are the myths and dreams of endocrinologists and diabetics alike. Chasing for the perfect 'diabetes' day is what keeps us checking - hoping that today is going to be the day you don't see anything higher than a 9 [162]. If only diabetes was as easy to control as it appears to be, insulin and blood sugar checking.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Talk that D-Talk

A group of T1's from Western/Fanshawe for our BBQ 
It isn't ordinary that you would have multiple diabetics in a classroom,  but in my case it just so happened in my English class this year at Brescia (a UWO campus.) Being a King's student I didn't take any other classes elsewhere until I was told to take an English class to help with my English major.  After being directed there, sitting in the classroom of fifteen or so strangers I realized that two definitely were going to be my friends by the next class, and that was because they were diabetic.  (You may remember the post about this!)

Of course now these two girls are my friends and now that the semester is over we laughed about all the conversations we had throughout the year about having diabetes.  We assumed that everyone around us must have picked up on the idea that we were diabetic as we discussed random numbers and pulled out our meters and insulin pumps, but at the same time we began to wonder if they had caught on or not, or maybe they were still trying to figure out why we would always come to class, 'high.'

It all goes back to when we were talking about how long our tubing was, as we stretched our insulin pumps across the row, comparing them and making jokes that only diabetics and people who know and love diabetics would get.    That is when the teacher gave us a strange look, examining for a few seconds then chuckling quietly saying, "Ahh Pacemakers"  at that point the three of us didn't correct him like most diabetics do, instead we laughed and text each other, "ahh pacemakers."  

We realized that we must have came into the class a dozen times proclaiming that we were high or that we had to take a shot, or that we were feeling low.   The diabetes talk was endless in that classroom, comparing numbers, giving each other juice boxes and talking about the type 1 meme page that I had created.   As others tried to listen in, possibly participate, but found themselves just smiling and nodding as I said, "I must have bolused five times today and I am still high!"  and my type 1 friends replying with, "did you try upping' your basal?"

It's times like these were for once we are having the 'normal' conversation in the classroom, and obviously it sounds interesting to an outside ear! But then again, if I heard someone was always coming to class high and had two other friends that often felt the same way, I would be likely to listen on in as well!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This isn't a Picnic!

When life gets busy it isn't easy to take control of our diabetes, of course it isn't that hard to pull out our insulin pumps dial up some insulin and go on our ways, or check our blood sugar on the moving bus or as we are walking to school, but the part that gets me every time is that fact that when I am hungry, or if I have no time to grab a snack, that matters unlike any other person, I really do need to find food.

The signal of a rumbling tummy is enough to give you an idea that you might be heading towards a 5-6 range, which will signal you to eat something, for most in a busy situation they can put off grabbing that sandwich and continue working, but for diabetics that sign is something you need to listen too before it is too late to ask for help.

Last month I was waiting at the bus stop and thought to myself, "An average person is just hungry and can do whatever they want with that message, but for a diabetic, it is a whole different story."  As diabetics we aren't able to skip a meal and if we do, we are having to make adjustments to our insulin.   One of the most annoying things about being diabetic in a crowd of non-diabetics is that taking breaks or at least breaking open a granola bar during a project is going to happen.   Like myself, I know that diabetics wish they didn't have to take the time to think about this.

Carrying food at all times seems like an easy thing to remember, but I find myself driving back to Brantford without a snack at hand or going for a walk with my friend without anything to give myself if I were to go low.    It isn't that we want to go face down, but we simply forget to bring all the extra baggage that diabetes wants us to travel with.    It's bad enough that we have to wear our insulin pumps and carry our meters, and now to find a snack to go with it -  this isn't a picnic!

Being prepared is a task  that you have others to remind you about.  For me at least, my friends are always reminding me to grab a snack, or they have something on them.   I heard stories of friends having supplies on hand for their friends in case of an emergency.  Having that support system is what will keep you on your feet.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Giving Credit

Our tasks as diabetics can be a little mundane, we are constantly doing the same thing over and over again without realizing that we have been neglecting ourselves. Yes, of course we are checking our blood sugars, pressing buttons to release insulin, lifting our shirts up to give ourselves injections and relying on ourselves to know if we are feeling 'low' or 'high' but at the same time when do we stop and give ourselves some credit for keeping ourselves alive.

Being diabetic isn't a job you sign up for, but once you've entered the world of diabetes you quickly find out that the job is one without benefits or time off.   I often see on mothers' and fathers' of diabetic childrens' Facebook pages, their occupation is listed as 'pancreas.'  As funny as it sounds, it is incredibly true and to be honest all diabetics could be listing their occupation as a full time, never resting pancreas.

Earlier this week a young diabetic told me that she had guessed carbs and ended up having a great blood sugar afterwards and she was proud of herself. It was at that moment that I pulled out my iPhone, went into notes and wrote, "give yourself a pat on the back."  So, likewise I wanted to write about what I meant when I heard that and what it meant to me.  So before I continue on, please grab your right or left hand and pat yourself on the back for as long as you need be.

I have lived with type 1 for three years now and as much as I embrace my diabetes I have never really thought, "wow I am doing a good job at managing my diabetes"  although I have highs and lows frequently (there is that misconception that insulin will provide you with perfect days...) I know that sometimes - not always, I am trying the best that I can.   The reason I don't say that I am trying my best all the time is because other things get in the way and as long as I am taking insulin I know that I can survive another day even if I do hit a few rocky patches along the way.

I know I have wrote about this before and I really do want to emphasize it for not only everyone else, but for myself. Too often we are so busy being pancreases that we don't give ourselves a raise (after all we are our own boss in this business.) Sometimes we need to just relax and know that what we do takes a lot of time and effort and thus far we have done an excellent job.

So, don't be afraid to reach over and give yourself a pat on the back, or a smile of success.  Diabetes is hard work and the fact that you are alive here today shows that all the work and effort you have put into managing your diabetes has paid off thus far!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stop Bullying

Bullying is an epidemic.  It happens all over the world and I am sure everyone has a personal story about bulling whether they once were a bully or they have been bullied before.   Even myself have seen both sides of the story.  I have been bullied for weight, and for other reasons that were unknown to me and still I have no idea what probed the bullies to bully me. Sadly, it seems like everyone brushes against bullying which makes it easy for teachers to simply shrug it off and account it as a part of growing up.

Looking back those that have bullied me have not gone too far, proving to me that being a bully doesn't make you any better.  However, I also know that just because you were a bully in grade 7 doesn't make you a bully in as a thirty year old.   People do change, but the important thing is to stop this from happening in the first place.  I am not coming up with something revolutionary because honestly, I do not know what can be done to stop bullying, but I would love to hear from others that have stood up and done something that prevented a situation from happening.  Those are our heros.

I never had diabetes in school until I moved away to college and although bulling happens at all stages of life (trust me it never ends!)  I was never picked on about my diabetes.   You can't see diabetes. I don't look 'diabetic' but when I pull out  syringe, a meter, an insulin pump or a prick of blood bubbles on my finger, that is when I appear diabetic to the world.   I do get the odd look or two, but no one calls me names for having to take insulin or carb count.

Yesterday I spent the morning at the Lamplighter Inn talking to teens about diabetes. I wish there was more time because I was so interested in how they dealt with diabetes and what has happened to them.  Out of the 45 minutes spent, one thing stuck out to me as a boy shared that he had been bullied at school for his diabetes.  I instantly wanted to hug him, but knowing what thirteen or so year old boys are like, randomly hugging him would have probably resulted in a "EW!"     So, instead I just listened, trying not to show a facial pout or shed a tear.

He said that people that do not know about his diabetes pick on him.   I instantly wondered what they said about his diabetes.  Why would kids make fun of someone for taking a needle? Why does it matter? But then I remembered to a time when I was bullied with no reason, not because I was being called fat, not because  was being called ugly, just no reason at all. I instantly wanted to think, oh kids are cruel, but remembered that bulling happens at all ages.

This young boy shared that his friends often stick up for him.  I didn't ask how, I am hoping not violently, but you never know. Either way, he said that his friends who know about his diabetes were able to stick up for him and that is when he stressed the importance of letting your friends know about your diabetes that way they feel comfortable about it and understand it.

Later on when I was telling a nurse about what I had heard, she shared with me that many children are bullied because they have diabetes and that one boy had said that he was constantly called a 'diabetes freak' all the time at school. So really? being bullied about the typical things such as being too smart, overweight, too thin or not well off is being mixed with bullying about having a disease?  I can hardly believe it.

So what can we do? How can we educate?  Diabetes isn't a joke (of course we can be light about it, not always dwelling on the negatives etc.) But what can be done so that no child has to feel like diabetes is a reason to not attend school or not open up to their peers? Why is this happening?


Saturday, April 14, 2012


Shortly after being diagnosed I went on a cruise, then moved away to college, attended parties, had sleepovers, shopping trips and visited friends and family for dinners and at no time did someone tell me they didn't want me over because I was too much of a burden being diabetic.  At no time was I refused because I 'might' go low or have high blood sugar.   I did what I wanted and was welcomed anywhere that I went, so how come children are being refused by their company just because they are seen as a 'burden' being diabetic.

After talking to a twelve year old diabetic today I realized that it isn't uncommon for children to feel like diabetes is holding them back from being a 'regular' kid and at first I thought it was their parents that was the cause of this (and I understand sometimes it is...) but to my surprise it also is the children's friend's parents.  It broke my heart when she said to me, "I was supposed to go to Port Dover this weekend with one of my friends, but her mom didn't feel comfortable having me for that long . . . But I know that I can do it by myself, but I guess they are just nervous to take me in their care, which sucks."  

I couldn't help but feel like I should drive her to the beach so she could enjoy a day out without worrying that someone was too worried about her.  As a 12 year old girl, she is being refused by her friends parents because they are too worried.   Is this happening with other children that are allergic to bees? prone to falling? that have strange phobias?  Why are diabetic children not even given a chance to enjoy a great sleepover or an afternoon adventure with their friends?

My concern is that this could be psychologically damaging.  Diabetic children never experiencing the over night birthday party their best friends are hosting or a night at the movie theatres.  Although I understand that parents think dealing with a diabetic child may be time consuming, it really isn't hard to follow the steps of making sure they check their blood sugar, take insulin and feel good.  Most of all diabetic children aren't totally oblivious about their diabetes.

When I talked to a few parents of diabetic children I learned that many of the diabetic parents I knew seemed to consider themselves lucky having their children make friends with more involved mothers and fathers.   The parents said that for the most part it is about preparing your children so that they can have that independence when going to a sleepover or a day trip with another family.   But, when talking to a few diabetics that have since grown up it seems that the hesitation was coming from all different ways.

Most said that it was their own hesitation on going with other families on trips or sleepovers because they didn't want to have to give themselves needles on their own.   Funny enough those that did venture off to friends houses for slumber parties were in the care of their friend's mother, who was a nurse. Others note that it wasn't so much the other children's parents that were not willing to take them on, it was more so their own parents that were worried about leaving too much responsibility to other parents.

But, like the mothers of diabetic children noted, is it important to prepare you children so that going to a sleepover isn't out of the question. When a child is prepared - sending she/he off won't be a problem for the parent, the child and the his or her friend's parents.   Lara, who was diagnosed in grade seven and is now in her twenties said that was known as the 'resposible' child because she was prepared to act on her diabetes and because she was seen this way she said that many of the skating parents were fine with having her over or taking care of her if her mother wasn't available.

So, it must be true that there is a mix bag of reasons why diabetic children and teens are sometimes feeling like being a 'regular' kid is tough when it comes to exploring things on their own. Educating those around you about your disease is the most important part about it, so that when you look back on your childhood you don't feel like your mixed the late night phone pranks, drawing marker on the first person who feel asleep's face and the day trip to the splash park your friends did.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Healthy is Delicious

Betty Lou's Inc. Goodies!

I've always had a sweet tooth since I was young and being diagnosed with diabetes wasn't a result of that; however, it is a challenge to balance good blood sugars and a sweet tooth.  Living almost nineteen years without type 1 diabetes I found myself not willing to adapt my lifestyle and eating habits all that much.   I cannot simply just stop eating the good food I ate throughout my childhood and teenage years.

For the first couple months of being diagnosed everything was strict. I was told how much to eat and when to eat, but eventually the seatbelt of diabetes was unclipped and I was allowed to explore it on my own. Soon I was adjusting my own insulin and back to eating how I normally ate before.  It felt good to know that living with diabetes isn't a restraint and that me and Reese cups would meet again.

Recently I was sent a wonderful selection of bars and goodies from Betty Lou's Inc. I am not one to wander in the organic isle; however upon, that 6 months diabetic probation (or what it felt like to be..) I did enjoy some organic cheesies, but otherwise, I had not tried any of the alternatives out there.  The bars and treats that were sent to me looked delicious first off and although most are labeled Vegan or Gluten free, I was willing to try them all out and hopes of finding something that tasted just like any other bar but MUCH better for you.

Angell Crisp Bar
Now, I haven't attempted to try every treat, knowing that I will be laying on the beach in Dominican in 17 days, I picked one to try today and that was the Angell crisp bar.   The reason I picked this one first is because I LOVE chocolate and most of all milk chocolate.    This bar is milk chocolate with a crispy chocolate centre and a couple things to be noted, it is fair trade, organic, gluten free and doesn't contain corn syrup!    This bar was a decent size (about the size of a granola bar) and contained only 24 grams of carbs.   The best part about it is that it tasted just like a chocolate bar, not even a granola bar, like a real, delicious, chocolate bar!   

To my surprise while I was snacking on it, I wasn't thinking, "I can totally tell this is healthy for me..."  in fact I was SURPRISED that I was eating something that was gluten free and enjoying it.   I look forward to trying out the other snacks and hope that they are just as good as the Angell bar!  


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The gift basket given to me by the Optimist Club of Throndale
Last night I headed to the small town of 500 people called Thorndale, just outside of London. I wasn't expecting a huge crowd inside as I prepared my presentation about my blogs, but when I did get inside, I also did not expect to be inspired by those around me.  A group of 30 or so, optimist and their wives sat around set dining tables, there was also a head table, where myself and Sue Taylor (CDA) sat with a few other men.

The dinner bell sounded and we were ready to begin eating and learning more about  the optimist club.   While everything went well, no special traditions while dinner to catch me off guard, I realized how much the people around enjoyed their part in the optimist club. While some wives joked about not having to cook their husbands meals once a month, I realized that there is so much out there to do and to belong too.

But what stood out the most to me was the Optimist's Creed; which goes like this:

"Promise Yourself-
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble."
Although this happened at the very end of the night, all of what I had talked earlier about regarding my diabetes, was concluded with this statement, that the Optimist club repeated at every meeting in closing of their meetings.   I stood there, listening to the voices hum of this message, really taking in every word and meaning, smiling and standing as straight as I could to respect their club.

I went there thinking I was going to be the one teaching them a lesson of finding inspiration, living life the the fullest as well as some facts about type 1 diabetes, and I am sure I did teach them, but at the same time, I didn't realize that I was going to be leaving with such a powerful message.  Something that I would print off and read over.  

I realized that as far as the definition of the word optimist goes, I am one.  Although I am not apart of the club, nor do I know much about it, only from what I learned from last night, I do think of myself as one who believes in what they stand for, and will continue my work as what I believe an 'optimistic' person would do. 

Such a pleasure!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Out of Whack

Unless you are snacking on the Easter Bunny's favourite treat, chances are your blood sugars were a little out of whack today. Like all the other holidays, it's hard to find the balance between decent blood sugars and enjoying your time.  Everyone wants to try a cookie or two, a chocolate egg and a handful of jelly beans, and even though ideally it seems easy to just press a few buttons to cover it, it isn't always as 'easy' to press those buttons.

I often give myself a break during holidays, while I know I should be the best pancreas all the time, it's tiring being a pancreas.  I enjoyed myself today and tomorrow I will indulge in dinner at my house for Easter.  I know that the blood sugars are riding a wave right now, and even my pump tried to call it quits when it pulled out of my skin and hid in the couch.  

The good thing is that holidays are spread out, so we don't need to worry too much about being a slacking pancreas.   But, I hope other diabetics are doing the same thing out there. Giving themselves breaks (still giving insulin and checking blood sugar) but, not worrying about highs as much and letting themselves indulge in some good treats from the Easter Bunny - after all that's what correction boluses are for....right?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Diabetic Hunger Games

Not having read the hunger games, nor watched the movie, the title ultimately made me think of the fight diabetics have with themselves versus food.   Diabetes makes you focus on your food more than anything else, you are constantly seeing numbers swirl around your food choices, doing calculations in your head and guesstimating 80% of the time. An apple becomes the number 30 and 2 squares of a chocolate bar becomes the number 7.

Our food becomes our battle, as we fight with our blood sugars and try to work it out in the end. More so, our symptoms of both high and low blood sugars drive us to be hungry.  We find ourselves glaring into refrigerators looking for a snack, when only 15 minutes ago our blood sugar was above average. Something about diabetes is haunting, the fact that even when our bodies are consumed by sugar in our blood stream, we still have feelings of hunger.

But, for me, the hunger is enormous when my blood sugar drops, often times that is my best indicator when I am low.  I will wake up craving something, and know that for more most people, it would be easy to shake a 4 a.m craving off, but for me, that means take action and while I won't likely fulfil my craving with a Domino's Pizza at 4 a.m I will have to sit there, half awake gnawing on a straw of juice trying to such every drop up.

But, when it comes down to it, most of us are overindulging when we have low blood sugars, maybe even high blood sugars.  At these times, will power flies away and we are left shaking alone looking for something to eat. At many times we are embarrassed to the fact that we can 'eat' so much, but it truly is a game that takes a whole lot of time to play (much longer than monopoly) and in the same breath, I am not really sure if there is ever a winner at the end of a diabetic's hunger game.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy, Laughing, Alive

Medtronic Pink Mio Infusion Site 

There comes a point when you just need to rock the insulin pump site that you have to wear. It is stuck to you 24/7 and as much as you can unhook your pump, it is not as easy to just take out a site, when you don't feel like wearing it (plus a huge waste of money!)  So, the only thing you have to do is just know that like the freckles on your shoulders and the dimples on your cheeks, your site is a beautiful part of you!

Why adore your site?   Besides the fact that you have to wear it, just remember that, that little white patch and tubing is saving your life. With a constant drip of insulin, you are able to stay happy, laughing and alive.  It may not be the most beautiful thing in the world, but some how we have managed to accept that brown mole on our leg, or that one crooked tooth we have. We find ways to find beauty in the things that make us unique, and there is nothing wrong with looking at your insulin pump site or pump for that matter, in the same light.

I recently decided to try out a pink site, rather than the clear ones I had used since pumping.    Everyone laughed at how excited I was to be able to wear a pink site, my happiness was probably equal to when I got a pink cover for my Macbook Pro, either way, I was happy to tweak something that I have to wear, and make it just how I wanted because I knew that it isn't an option to get rid of it, unless I was to consider going back on multiple daily injections. 

I love having a pink site and besides the fact it has the smallest tubing in the world (18 inches) I have found it perfect for me.   I enjoy my site, and will gladly show anyone who wants to see my beautiful pink site, that keeps me happy, laughing and alive each day. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meter Mix-Up

There are so many different meters out there in the diabetes world. Constantly companies are pushing out, smaller (rather than bigger) and better products that will make diabetes easier.  The good thing about the whole competitive world of meter-making is that as diabetics we have a wide variety of options to choose from, so if we are looking for a meter with small strips, we can find that, or if we are looking for something that can connect to our computer, that is out there too.

In a way it makes me wonder if there is TOO much choice in looking for the perfect meter, or is it true that we just use whatever we got free.  Do people really buy meters anymore?  As diabetics we spend so much money on strips and insulin, searching for free meters seems like the best and easiest thing to do. Pharmacy's are dying to give away their new meters with intentions on you coming back the next month to purchase four boxes of strips.

But, when it comes to choice, although we are bombarded with a ton of similar versions of the 'ideal' meter, I find that most diabetics are really tweaking the meters on their own. Adding pretty purple cases and the big choice of what pricker to use.  The meter isn't good without a drop of blood added to it each day, a few times or more.   So one of the most important aspects to a meter is what lancet device it comes with.    

I have found that more and more people are mixing companies, loving a lancet from one company, but choosing a meter from another.  It is all about how it feels on the finger tips, and what is easier to carry along with you.   Personally, I like something small and simple, while others like something bigger that contains more lancets so they don't have to change it as often.  It is all a matter of personal choice.

So, it's a matter of fact that no company is able to cover all bases for everyone.   Diabetics are customizing their daily tools in order to fit their own needs and there is nothing wrong with that.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Battery Life

As a diabetic pumper, I am living life with a AAA battery. I am giving my life to Energizer, and hoping that like the commercials promise, they are just will just keep going, and going and going.  Unfortunately, as much as the battery company wants its products to keep going, there is times when the battery must die, and therefore, whatever product is it keeping alive, dies with it.    When that product is something a little more extreme than a talking baby doll or a flashlight, that is when the battery life story begins...

Living the battery life isn't appealing, like your favourite toy you got when you were little sometimes you just don't have the extra battery to keep it going. The difference of course is that when your mother told you that the battery in your train set 'died' the task to get a new battery may have taken much longer than you expected, but you get over it and find a new toy, or steal from the television remote.  For an insulin pump, the moment you get the warning that you have a "LOW BATT"  you need to take some sort of action and while I admit, sometimes that comes with delay due to lack of preparation, the task of the new batteries in the pump happens quickly.

There is something about changing a battery in your pump. It doesn't happen to often, the batteries tend to last a long time, and by long time, I mean usually at least a month.   So, it is often out of the blue that you feel like you have to change your battery, when really it is usually the same span of time, every time.    When you unscrew the battery capsule, and the dead AAA battery falls out, and your pump screen is blank, I feel like all of a sudden my pump is nothing.  The thing that is saving my life is just OFF.  It is an odd feeling, and you would think that this concept would apply to when you leave your pump unhooked, but it just is a different feeling.

Like I said, it seems like your pump dies 'out of the blue'  and for me, I feel like it happens at the worst times possible.  Now, I sometimes get 'feelings' when I know I am going somewhere, or doing something obscure, and feel like the chances that my pump will die are high - usually this doesn't amount to anything, but hey, I was being precautions.  Thinking about this some more I thought of three good examples of 'The Battery Life - Living on The Edge' occasions.

1.  The Cottage  Battery  Life

I packed my bags and headed to Conestoga Lake to visit Michelle and her family for the weekend at the cottage they had rented last summer.   I always remember pump supplies, but for some odd reason, I thought, it's only one weekend, why do I need batteries?  Likely, I didn't actually think that, but something did or didn't cross my mind and the batteries were left behind.     Lying on the grass tanning with Michelle, I felt a vibration. My instant dreaded thought was low reservoir, and I wasn't looking forward to having to change my site and fill a vial, but to my shocking surprise, I had a 'LOW BATT' warning.

We were in the middle of no where and I felt like a huge convenience, but we visited the cottage next to us, to see JUST IN CASE and lone and behold, the nice cottager had a drawer full of batteries. She suited me up with 1 AAA and I was back to pumping and tanning again!

2. Testing, Testing, 1, 2, LOW BATT

I was just about to write a midterm at Fanshawe last year, I had my pencils ready and waited outside the classroom for the Professor to let us in.  But then, once again that awful noise that the pump makes when it wants more batteries!   I had no time to run back, and I am sure I could have made some excuse to run back home, but I knew that it wasn't THAT BIG OF A DEAL.   I quickly text my friend Mitch about it, and he responded with the fact that he had a low reservoir, I instantly didn't feel bad about my bad preparations and headed into the exam.

3. The Dying Beach Date

I had just started 'seeing' Vince and he invited me to come to the Beach with all of his friends and I brought Michelle with me as well.   First, Michelle and I got lost trying to get there and showed up pretty late, but once we got there, my pump realized I was having too much fun and decided to conk out on me mid beaching.    Michelle and I had to head to the general store to buy expensive AAA batteries to keep myself going for the rest of the day!

There are many stories about low batteries, and I am sure everyone has a good story to tell. It is funny, how mad we get when the batteries go out in the television remote, or our remote control car, yet here pumpers are all over telling humours tales of when their batteries went low in the insulin pumps!

Moral of the story:   Always keep a couple AAA batteries on hand!