Thursday, September 27, 2012

What You've Been Dealt

How many times have you told someone that you have type 1 diabetes and they replied with, 'I could never be diabetic!' or 'I could never put needles in myself.'  This reply is extremely common and most of us reply back with, 'well, when it's life or death...' and the person still doesn't believe they would be able to put up with the tasks you've been dealt for life. But, I think instead of telling that person that, 'of course they could do it!' 'No Problem!'  we should just reply with, 'and that's why YOU don't have diabetes and I DO!' 

I think to what my mom always says, 'Your sister wouldn't be a very good diabetic, she doesn't remember stuff, loses stuff etc.' and that's true; however, maybe that is the reason she wasn't give diabetes and I was after all we share 50% of our genes, but somehow I was the one that ended up with diabetes. I was given diabetes because I can handle it and as much as I sometimes hate  taking care of it - I do it anyways.  

Another link to this idea hit me when Shannon told one of her sons (regarding a cyst he had in his mouth)  if I got this, I wouldn't survive, if your brother got this he wouldn't survive, but you have it because you can survive no problem.  It really made me think about this concept in depth - does God (or whoever you believe in..) give you only what you can handle?

Last night, I went and saw the Buried Life which is an MTV show about four guys that basically made a ginormous bucket list and began scratching it off.  Personally, I think bucket lists are a great idea and have my own tucked somewhere around this room - but even though this presentation was about crossing off your lists, I found a deeper meaning in what we can do with what we have been given.

Throughout our lives we are given options, we meet people, we befriend people, we lose friends, we get to travel, we move away - all of these things develop us in giving us new knowledge, new understandings and I believe changes us in little ways all the time.  Of course, I had a big change when I was diagnosed with diabetes, it was something that continues to challenge me and change me, but because of that I have learned a lot from the experiences and have been able to create a new list based on my new experiences and make them happen with the confidence in knowing I was given this disease for a reason.

I love the idea of knowing that everything happens for a reason - I love the idea of knowing that what I am doing right now in my life is purposeful.  I will continue to set goals and work hard on achieving them (or as the Buried Life would suggest 'scratching them off the list') because everything that has happened in my life thus far has been all apart of the journey.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Sneak Peak

So, since being diagnosed I have been covered under my mother's insurance plan.  I have been able to walk into a pharmacy ask for vials of insulin and strips and without any issues walked out with what I asked for only having to pay for the dispensing fee of around $10.00 each time.   It wasn't until today that I walked into the Walmart pharmacy, asked for the insulin and strips and was told that I was no longer covered. To my surprise, I was looking back at the clerk thinking, what do I do then? she looked back at me waiting for me to make up my mind on whether or not I was going to pay for the insulin or walk away with nothing.

My first thought, "oh my god, how can I pay for this every month?"  my second thought, " I swear I was covered by my mom..."  third thought, "why do I have diabetes? this isn't fair?"  fourth thought, "I am so getting a treat for all of this frustration."  I walked away without the insulin and gave my mom a call asking what I should do. Thankfully she assured me that once I proved I was in school to her insurance company that all would be good.  I went back to the counter and coughed up the hundred-and-something-dollar bill that it cost me to save my life for the month.

Honestly, it was incredibly stressful and I couldn't help but get mad that I have to pay so much to stay alive.  Why are diabetics having to pay so much for insulin? Why are we having to worry about these kinds of things? I began to think more about the desperate cries on Facebook chat groups of people searching for insulin, hoping their cheques come in so they can pay for their insulin... I felt incredibly mad.

Thankfully, I will be covered until I am 26 (and still in school) by my mom's plan and then it is time to look for a job or friend (a.k.a husband) with benefits!  It really makes you think how fragile the life of a diabetic can be. How scary of a thought it is to be without insulin.  A thought many of us do not want to even think about.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ugly Thing

This year I had to take the dreaded science credit needed to graduate.  However, I was lucky that there is a science for 'not-so-sciencey-people' which is called, History of Medicine.   My first thought was, medicine = insulin = diabetes! and as soon as I got my textbook I flipped to the back of the book and looked for the word diabetes (which I tend to do the odd time or two just out of curiosity...)   There were a few pages listed and I began reading and getting really excited about the possibility of learning more about diabetes from a historical point of view and yes, I realize I worked within a museum about diabetes; however that marks back to Banting's times not the Egyptians!

My professor has brushed on some points about diabetes, but I think the bulk is yet to come.  Instead, he has talked more about the idea of disease in different contexts within time.  The gist of it all is that disease was seen as an ugly thing. This made me think whether or not I saw disease as an ugly thing. I mean there was less of an understanding of disease in the past, and disease was something that was directly linked to death because of the lack of medicine - so I can see why it was seen as ugly, but do people still see disease as ugly?

The word disease has a bad meaning all around, in fact I bet a lot of people living with diabetes don't say they have a disease; however, I have thrown that word around a few times not really thinking about whether it was an ugly word or not.  I know I have a disease, and I feel like my light about diabetes is a positive and beautiful one so I don't believe that saying I have a disease is going to taint the person I am.  

But, it is an interesting topic to think about and even talk to other diabetics about, whether they say they have a disease or feel that the word disease is an ugly thing to have.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take the Advice

It's always hard to take others advice about something that you have your own personal beliefs about.  Things like running your own diabetes, when in reality like a child it takes a village to take care of a diabetic or at least it seems that way.  Starting at a new hospital I will soon have had three appointments there in a matter of four weeks and like most diabetics, I just looovvveee diabetes related appointments.

It's like American Idol or any of those judging shows really, you have to present yourself before a panel and see if it's good enough.  Of course, you're nervous and not sure if it is your 'best' work or not. You think of excuses if it just wasn't good enough and promise you will be better next time and if the appointment is really bad you will run off crying.   But, the reality of it is that they are just trying to help and most of the professional may not know your background, what you have been up too etc. so we can't expect them to fully understand whacky numbers and missed blood sugar checks.

For these past appointments I have been getting the run down about diabetes which is more or less kind of a nice reminder.  Of course I know what it feels like to go low, and what my blood sugar should be to drive, but in the same breath it is nice to go over what I already know to remind myself to be a better diabetic.  Of course I know this stuff, I know when I don't check my blood sugar two hours after a meal that I am not doing diabetes properly - but the convenience of not checking my blood sugar seems to win - always.

It's hard to realize that what I have been doing with diabetes isn't really the best. I mean, I am surviving and having decent blood sugars, but looking at how I use my pump, as my nurse said, "it's like strapping a syringe to yourself..."   I am not taking advantage of technology which I should be doing with this seven thousand or so dollar machine I wear constantly.

The consequences of not dealing with diabetes the best we can is enormous. We want to one day say that we ONCE had diabetes, but we have to be alive and thriving to say so. So, I think sometimes as hard as it may be, it's good to take the advice we already know.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Low Etiquette

Most lows are unpredictable, an accident big bolus or a long tiring work-out are a couple examples of lows that you can predict coming and prepare for; however, most lows are completely out of the blue and without much warning before you're shaking and squeezing a juice box down your throat.  But, what happens when you're not in the comforts of your own apartment and your blood sugar decides to dip?

I have been in all kinds of situations with low blood sugar, stores, friend's houses and buses.  Being without your own low supplies on you always makes you think, 'wow, I'm so unprepared...' but at that moment it is too late to feel guilty about being an unprepared diabetic.  When you're in these situations you are a. not thinking correctly and b. possibly feeling a tad bit awkward having to deal with your issue. 

So what's the etiquette of going low?  We cannot control the shakes, the sweating or the one thousand and one foods we want to eat in the next fifteen minutes, but the people around us don't know that.  The best thing to do is to let someone know, even if it is the cashier.  Of course, I wouldn't suggest running up to the bus driver and letting him know, but if you're going to be riding for a bit, I would possibly look around to see if anyone would offer a granola bar.   In my case when I went low on the bus I was on campus, so I got off and went to the cafeteria to get something to satisfy my low. Once again, even better option is to just be prepared - but we're all human! 

When you're at a friend's house it can be a lot easier to let them know and get a snack. But, even though we know as diabetics that we need the snack, sometimes it can be hard to ask for one and not feel bad about cleaning out their cupboards.    When I would go low at night in the apartment, I would sometimes set my eyes on food that wasn't mine - of course, I would only take Michelle's snacks because I knew she wouldn't care - but I would be sure to leave a nice sticky note or facebook message to let her know that her pudding cup asked if it could help me out and I kindly said, of course! 

It's O.K to ask for help or ask for food.  I am really bad for going low in stores, picking something and then waiting in line for 10 minutes to pay for it, when in reality cashiers are usually fine with you bringing them the wrapper after you consume it - and explain why you needed to eat it.    But, yes, people can be very accommodating and speaking as a diabetic I know how being low can leave you feeling a little lost in the world around you.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Review

It's truly been a year of opportunities for me, and whether I want to think of it as a lucky year or just a year that I worked extra hard - either way I am appreciating everything that I have been given in this last year. With the smell of fall in the air and the breeze getting cooler than ever - I feel like the chaos of the first couple weeks of school is slowly starting to slow down, so that I can actually think a little clearer about what the year has given me.

Starting my third year of University is something that still seems unbelievable to me.  I never truly thought that I was ever smart enough to go to University - but then again when you think about grade 12 when you're in grade 9 that seems impossible as well.  It wasn't until I became confident with myself that I realized that I am capable of achieving what I dream of.  Of course, I am not dreaming of being a mathematic genius - so that is my excuse of why I am horrible at math!   I guess after going to Fanshawe I realized that I do have skills that can be applied in so many different ways and as much as I am going to give Fanshawe a lot of the credit, I am also giving my diabetes credit for giving me that confidence in learning about myself, believing in myself and pushing myself through tough situations.

This year as many people know, I am the president of the Western Diabetes Association.  At first, I was just excited that I was going to be able to meet so many amazing people in the University community, but as time has went by and I have been planning for the year to come, I realized just how excited I am to make change and to really help.  Over the past couple years I have really engaged in volunteer and even though we all live such busy lives - it's unbelievable how rewarding volunteering can be.

It was day three of clubs week today and I have met a lot of new people at the booth and have learned a lot about people in general with no relation to my club at all. You see, there are so many people with so many different interests. Just looking around at clubs week I almost wish I was part of all of these communities in some way, so that I would know just what they are about - of course, I am sure I would be misplaced in say, a Caribbean Club (although, I do love to travel there...) I am just amazing at the networks these students have built together.

It makes sense why type 1 diabetics love to gather together.  Just like the juggling society likes to meet because they share the same interests, exchange tips, encourage each other - it just isn't any different from why type 1's get together - plus some may argue that we are pretty good at juggling things in our lives, blood sugars, social lives, education - to name a few!

I guess this blog post isn't very direct - I just had a few moments this past while thinking about what has been happening around me and what I have done to get where I am today.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Being connected to an insulin pump can make us sometimes feel un-human like. After all, how many of your friends are running on triple A batteries?  The fact of the matter is is that being connected 24/7 to 24 inches of tubing leading to a box of insulin - can leave you feeling a little different from the crowd and may give you thoughts of switching back to the 'old fashion' way of managing diabetes.

Some prefer to use telephones with cords - the fact is that they are always where you last left them and they don't need to be charged. However, then there is the rest of the world that is constantly looking for new technology, flat screens weren't enough, so we created 3D flat screens - it's the way we are growing up now a days - in kindergarten for example, I never used a computer in class, and now it is an option during playtime.

Taking the plunge to use a insulin pump is more than just about new technology I realize. One of the first criticisms is that we have to wear it all the time and many will reply with, well you always have your cellphone on you or a bluetooth in your ear... but the truth is it is much different than carrying around a cell phone.   When I go to bed at night my cell phone sits on my night table, yes if I wake up and can't sleep I will pick it up, look on the internet, etc. (bad habit...) but all in all, when it's time to sleep I put it beside me.  My cell phone doesn't roll around with me, my cell phone can be as far away from me as it wants without me worrying - my cell phone isn't attached to me.

This thought alone can start to make the average pumper think about his/her situation.  Rolling around in your sleep, sharing a bed with someone, changing your clothes, getting in and out of the shower, wearing a nice strapless or tight dress, all of these things (not even a good chunk of the list...) are all things that make having an insulin pump a little bit awkward, for lack of a better word.  All of a sudden that life saving device is a pain.

At times I think of switching back to pens, but realize how much freedom the insulin pump gives me in MOST situations. Although at times I want to throw it out the window, I realize how much it really does for me.  An insulin pump is an aid that you learn to just accept and the people around you accept as well. It is a device that needs acceptance in order to work. Accept that at times it will test you i.e where does this thing go!?  and accept that if someone loves you for you, they will love your insulin pump as well.


Monday, September 17, 2012

We can do it!

There are several moments in your daily life that you probably wonder why you were the one to get diabetes. I think that it is fairly normal to have these thoughts as long as you're able to pull through them.  The odd time I will think, 'what if I gave up on diabetes?' much like my pancreas decided to give up on me.  But, then I realize as much work as diabetes is, it's a life or death situation and in those situations *most* of us would choose life.  

Another way to look at it is if you were driving along the busy highway and decided, ' this has been an awfully long drive I think I will just STOP'  well you can stop if you want, you know how you can stop - just step on the breaks, however, with that come the consequences of a. being badly injured or b. dying.    You can't just stop on the highway without consequences much like you can't just stop taking care of your diabetes without consequences.

Of course, when we look at our non-diabetic friends or just the people around us that we know aren't diabetic we get pancreas envy and imagine ourselves not having to check out blood sugar or having to give ourselves insulin - but like I always mention those people most likely look at others and envy them for one thing or another. It's human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side, when in reality every place, person and situation has its flaws.

Giving up on diabetes happens a lot because it is so time consuming.  If we gave diabetes our attention all the time we might have fancy beautiful numbers, but a lot of our life would be crumbling around us because our lack of attention for other things.  It's difficult to manage diabetes with everything else life has to offer us, but the truth is is that we all can do it in some way or another we just can't be perfect at everything we do all at once.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tech Talk

The use of technology  has taken over everyone's lives. Strange, how hard it can be to sit on the bed and try and read a book without reaching for the iPad, cell phone or lap top.   It's as if our minds crave that artificial glow of less important information. As much as technology is distracting, it also has been amazing in examples of the medical world.  Being able to do so much using technology to improve peoples lives and make things a little easier for everyone.

Althose that use insulin pumps must praise technology in some way. Being able to deliver insulin with a click of a button, not having to worry about giving needles every single day.  Same goes with meters, it seems companies are producing meters every month - getting better, cuter, smaller, faster, and the new phenomenon the ability to upload the information to the computer using something as simple as a USB.
Okay this isn't diabetes related, however
technology at its best. Audio books to make school
 a little easier!

That is what I love - I love that even though I have to think about diabetes as far as checking my blood sugar and giving insulin I don't have to do the math often, I don't have to write anything down - technology is assisting me in dealing with diabetes.  Unfortunately, at times I feel like the medical professionals rather us do differently.  Track things by hand, weigh things with measuring cups, calculate things without our pumps.

I realize that when looking at someone's blood sugars/insulin dosages it can be hard to do if you're having to look at a meters reading that aren't connected to the pump, then having to look at the pump readings that may or may not have the blood sugars recorded.  However, that one hour of annoying-ness for the diabetes team, doesn't justify every second of a diabetic daily life having to tediously do things twice when something like the USB meter can record it all on the computer.  Personally, I don't have time to keep a journal, that is what my meter has time to do.

Of course I feel bad when I am sitting with the team trying to figure out what goes with what, but when I think about how much I accomplish in a day not including diabetes practices, I cannot even imagine choosing what I believe to be a difficult way to manage my diabetes.  I check my blood sugar, it records in my meter, I go to my pump, give myself insulin for whatever I am eating and carry on.  To me that's my way of managing.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feeling Sorry

Okay, I am starting to feel bad for myself - as bad as that sounds and as much as I don't want to feel bad for myself - I have just reached the point so early in September that I am feeling completely overwhelmed.  You see, school I can handle, diabetes I can handle, but together I feel like they are like oil and water - they just aren't mixing well.   I have been doing post secondary schooling now for four years and I have managed to get a diploma and not once fail a class while dealing with diabetes - which seems like quite the accomplishment if you know how time consuming and frustrating diabetes can be. So, I wonder to myself why this year (which has been a total of a week thus far) seems to be the year that diabetes seems to be one big obvious hurtle that is taller than I can jump.

I blame it on having a doctor's appointment within the first week of school starting - and a new doctor at that.   It's like first impressions for anyone, you are going to a party and you don't know too many people attending. You spend extra time in the bathroom getting ready, possibly even go to the mall to buy a new outfit just for that night - you do all of this because you want to make a good impression on new people, to give them an impression of you that may not be 100% accurate, but at least they will think you're a good/cool/stylish/nice person.   This goes for meeting with doctors, you know the date is coming up and you just want to have 'stylish' numbers to show them, not numbers that will make them scream.

In the back of my mind for the past couple weeks all I can think about is numbers. Good numbers, bad numbers, stupid numbers, trending numbers, where-the-heck-did-that-number-come-from numbers.  I am not a math person, so numbers on the brain is a bad thing - I rather have nice words flowing through my mind, story ideas and philosophical thoughts about Plato - than numbers that deem me as a good or bad diabetic.  These past two weeks I have also been busy, so tracking these numbers that seem to be on my mind has got lost many times.  No one should be too busy for their health, but we don't live in a world of constant rainbows and sunshine - sometimes time runs short as I mentioned before.

I feel like I have failed as a diabetic these past two weeks, not checking enough, not bolusing enough, not carb counting properly. I am tired.  Diabetes has officially kicked my butt these past two weeks and if I don't get my mind in the right spot it will continue to do so.  I am overwhelmed.  With due dates being assigned, clubs week approaching, meeting being scheduled, doctors appointments - three this month to be exact - I am having a hard time fitting diabetes in.

But, I can't be the only one right? Diabetes kicks people's  butts often right?  I know that for the medical field it may be hard for them to understand my story of blaming diabetes, but we can't be blind in the fact that diabetes is a disease that takes a lot of time, effort and strength out of people.  As diabetics we have multiple roles in life not just that of a person living with diabetes.  So, for now I will feel bad for myself, for the thousands upon thousands living with diabetes and all the other illnesses or diseases that kicks butts.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Certain Situations...

In certain situations being diabetic is absolutely annoying. Having to think about carb counting at a place like, say the FAIR, is ridiculous. It is hard to even imagine what they put into half the foods they fry and let alone how much extra sugar is tossed into elephant ears.  The same goes for those that are gluten free or have a food allergy, sometimes managing your life around a food related issue or disease can be difficult.

I go to my new endocrinologist in London on Wednesday and I am dreading to know what my a1c is up too.   I mean, I don't believe it fluctuated too much, but this past few weeks of blood sugars do not look good on paper.  I have either been high or low and finding that awesome blood sugar somewhere between lowville and highville has not been located.   I have come to realize that although oatmeal for breakfast fills me up - which is good for a long morning class - my blood sugars cannot seem to handle it despite how much insulin I give myself.

It's a shame that I have to meet the doctor on a bad blood sugar note, but hopefully she will understand that with school starting, schedules changing, and the fair being in town - crazy blood sugars are bound to happen.   This struggle is common to diabetics I can only assume.  Having certain situations totally make diabetes a headache and a half.  There are times in my life when unfortunately diabetes is the last thing I am thinking about, running around, getting things done, before I know it I am lying in bed and realize I have barely checked my blood sugar.

It's like any one with diabetes or not, life sometimes starts going full speed ahead and before you know it, you have forgotten to feed the dog, water the grass and you've left your house keys in the front door. It's not just diabetics being careless, it's life being hectic - those situations that need your full attention.

It's too bad there isn't a pause button for diabetes - when you can just let it wait for a minute like it makes you.


Sunday, September 9, 2012


There are moments where I realize that I am completely unprepared. Moments where I think, wow, if I ran out of insulin right now what would I do? or if my site rips out how far would I have to go to get a new one?  It seems that when you're prepared nothing goes wrong, but the day you don't pack an extra site that is the day the freak accident happens and your site gets ripped out.

I really try hard to think about those emergency situations when packing.  I feel like I pack often going to Vince's place or going to Brantford - and as much as I want to remember to pack every little emergency thing I often forget.   My new method is to just leave sites in bags - in my purse, backpack and 'sleepover' bag.  That way if anything happens I can be sure that I will have an extra one kicking around.  However, another tricky thing is insulin - I even said to Vince I was thinking of putting a vial in his mini fridge just in case - considering I did run out of insulin one time and went without insulin for a few hours (and my highest was 8 - amazingly.)

It's hard to remember to bring everything - my only thought about it is is to create three little kits to put in those three prime bags of mine.  I would need to put some batteries in there, a site, a reservoir and I guess I could then write a sticky note to remember to bring insulin - since I am not going to let a vial just chill in a bag for who knows how long! I could also include snacks in this little kit I suppose.

That's another thing I tend to forget - snacks!   I think it is because I don't go low often - but I do forget to bring snacks with me a lot or dex tabs.  The truth is, I am usually somewhere that has something even if I have to buy it.  I did however, think the other day when I was at school - I didn't have any money on me nor snacks and wondered what I would do if I went low. I then thought, I would probably just walk up to someone - I know I've 'borrowed' an apple or two in a lecture once or twice.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School

So, I feel like I totally abandoned the blog for a good chunk of time, and honestly with school starting and everything else picking up unfortunately at times it just did not cross my mind. However, I know for most September is like January - a new start and things start to get busy for everyone, especially those going back to school!

For me, I start tomorrow and I am looking forward to it even though I have just one 1 hour class.  It will be nice to get into the strange routine of school and start things off with new notebooks and pens...ah the best part about going back is all the new supplies.  However, I am not looking forward to all the essay writing that will take place this year; however, that is what I get for getting into English after all!

Another good thing about school starting is that I can meet up with the diabetics I have met in London. Last year we met up a few times including a end of year BBQ and it was such a great turn out each time we organized an event.   Also, this year I am the President of the Western Diabetes Association and I am really looking forward to clubs week and meeting all the wonderful people that will be interested in the club.  I am hoping to connect with more type 1s along the way as well!

Now that it is a new (school) year, I am going to try hard to get back to blogging. I know that this blog has followed me along my journey and as far as I know my journey isn't over - even though we are all crossing our fingers for a cure!  So, here is to a great school year for everyone heading back whether that is back to high school or University/College! Let's hope for less lows and highs and good grades!