Thursday, December 19, 2013

Helpless but Helped

I've never truly needed too much help while I am low. Often I am able to make it to the kitchen without any issues and get myself something before having to sit in the floor to consume it - at my worst. However, the other night I was in bed, I had fallen asleep before Vince.  He went the bathroom and when he came back he woke me up accidentally, because I was sort-of-awake I felt strange, almost like I was going to be sick. My first instinct was not that I was low, rather that I needed some water and to sit up.    After a few minutes of debating in my head what I wanted to do and how I felt, I got out of bed. Fumbled around for my glasses, Vince asked what I was doing, and I crawled across the floor to check my blood sugar.  Vince automatically got up, turned on the lights and asked me what I needed.

Danielle & I 
At this point I didn't feel low, like I said. I wasn't hungry, I wasn't shaking, I just felt weird.  I checked and 2.0 flashed on the screen.  Vince grabbed a bag of bulk candy he had brought over and went to cut up apple, peanut butter and get me a glass of milk, as that is my go-to-snack.  Now, a few times he has gotten me snacks, but I was able to get them myself.  This was the first time that I truly felt like if I stood up I was going to pass out.  My hearing was fading and my body started to sweat. I heard a familiar voice, it was my roommate Danielle asking if I was okay. She also is a type one diabetic and just had a low herself, she ate a chocolate bar and was sitting in the living room because she couldn't fall back asleep.  So there it was, one apartment, two low and recovering diabetics and one boyfriend trying to make sure everything was O.K.

Danielle took the opportunity to observe me, 'you look pale...' I remember her saying.  We chatted a bit about how we were feeling. She went to lay down in the living room and Vince sat down beside my on the floor as I finished my snack.  I truly felt mad at diabetes.  I remember saying to him, 'You know what makes me mad about diabetes.  It makes me so angry that three people are awake now because of diabetes.'   I felt so much hate towards diabetes, but so much love for the support of both Vince and Danielle.  I was conflicted.

As I finally made my way back to bed, feeling incredibly full from the apple, peanut butter, chocolate covered raisins and glass of milk, I told Vince how appreciative I was for taking care of me.  It's a big job dating a type one diabetic, and I believe that it takes special people to tag along for the ride.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

What I have

When I was diagnosed with type one diabetes in 2009 I didn't worry about where I was going to get my insulin nor did I worry about dying. I was more concerned about what this meant for me having to arrange my life around my diabetes, something that now seems so trivial after meeting and speaking to people around the world whose main concerns regarding diabetes do in fact revolve around access to insulin and risk of early complications or death.

I can safely say that I returned to Canada, leaving a piece of my heart with individuals around the world. It broke my heart to hear that in Zambia, getting a meter isn't easy. In fact, the specific person, had diabetes for eight years before getting his/her own meter.  The clinic was where he/she checked not at home.  Something that blew my mind, as I thought about the diabetes supplies I had been hoarding at home.  I felt guilty, sad, mad at myself for collecting and not giving.

Sydney, AUS. Hospital
Diabetes in Canada is not like Diabetes in the Caribbean, and Diabetes in the Caribbean is not like diabetes in Europe - it is all different and I think that we all, as young leaders realized this quickly. When I finish school in the next few months my insurance will stop funding my diabetes supplies (insulin and test strips) because I will no longer be in school. As much as this scares me because I know how much these life saving items cost, I know that I have the option of either buying insurance OR getting a job that covers the cost.  The insulin pump and the supplies, however, is covered by ADP and that will not change when I finish school.

Knowing what I know now about countries around the world and the difference regarding access to insulin and other supplies - I feel less fearful of my future and rather upset about others. I wish so badly there was a way to guarantee that no one dies because they cannot get access to insulin or because they did not have the opportunity to test their blood sugar or sugar in their urine.  This is terribly upsetting.

I know that there are various foundations that are working at making change and I truly feel like we as diabetics have the power to make change. It just is not an easy task.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jet Lag

I've experienced jet lag before, most recently, besides now was when I flew from Tanzania to Toronto which was a 7 hour time difference. The time difference between Australia and Toronto, however is 16 hours.  It is an incredible time difference, making me feel like I am one day ahead of everyone else here at home.  Managing diabetes with jet lag has proved to be interesting as well. While I haven't noticed too much fluctuation with blood sugars, I find that the signs of jet lag are simply mimicking some of the feelings of low or high blood sugar due to being exhausted, having off hunger (i.e wanting to eat food in the middle of the night but not in the morning) and overall grumpiness with trying to regulate my bodies clock.  It's confused.

I noticed jet leg a bit when I arrived in Sydney on November 22nd.  I had started my flight on November 20th here, but arrived in Australia what seemed like two days later.  Both Russ (the other Canadian I was travelling with) and I found ourselves getting up extremely early then falling asleep by mid afternoon.  We got a lot done in the mornings, but often we were fast asleep before the sun went down. Eventually we got into the rhythm of things and by the time the conference had begun I know that I was waking up at 7 am struggling much like I do when I am at home.

Eating habits like I mentioned proved difficult, I was waking up low often and because I was getting up early, basically before breakfast was being served at the hotel.  I found myself having to treat lows before getting the opportunity to have breakfast.   We were eating lunches and dinners at earlier times as well.   It was interesting getting used to the changes.

Other changes had to be made with times on the insulin pump as well as the meter which is important because if you have set basal or bolus rates at specific times they need to be happening at the correct times.  I think it can be tricky to make adjustments since your body may feel like it is in Toronto, but your actions, food consumption and mind is in Australia. So, playing around with rates isn't a bad idea.

This week has proven to be difficult as I caught a cold on the flight home and the change in temperature from Australia (mid 20's) to Ontario, Canada (negatives!) is a big shock to the system.   I also am dealing with stress through catching up on missed lectures and writing exams this week - three in total.   I know that it will be all worth it after Friday's final exam, but in the meantime, I am battling with diabetes, a cold, jet lag and studying... a.k.a procrastination.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I spent a great deal of time with people that share a common fight with me.  While, I wish we were meeting for a convention about scrap-booking, computer science, ANYTHING BUT diabetes. Sadly, it was a real eye opening experience as we all gathered because we have diabetes. I learned that diabetes itself does not discriminate.  Diabetes is not for women only, the old, the obese, the Caucasian, the rich nor the poor. Diabetes can happen to anyone.

Ashley (Australia) speaking about discrimination, support and
the YLD in the Federation Square Event, Melbourne, AUS. 
If you were to have walked in my shoes in Australia, you would have seen the faces of people living with diabetes. No face alike, not all languages the same and not every ones story fair.  I learned a lot that while diabetes does no discriminate, others do.  I spoke with quite a few people living in various countries around the world, from as far as the Middle East to as close as the United States.   Almost everyone had a story of discrimination due to their diabetes. Some more violent and disheartening than others, but all terribly tragic.

There is an extreme lack of knowledge in some parts of countries. I was told in Rural Bangladesh, people are still in the belief system that a curse was given to their children with diabetes and rituals are done.  To me, I was shocked, these were thoughts I was learning in my History class that happened during the time of plagues and the outbreak of Leprosy.  I had no idea that this was happening now.  Other stories of 'cures' being given, deadly cures not something as simple as cinnamon that we all commonly hear about and ignore.

Others had stories of not being able to attend post secondary, not finding a partner, not being accepted by family members, partners family members or other people in the community.  It was hard to put myself in the shoes of people from others parts of the world knowing that their diabetes is so much more of an obstacle than mine - or at least it appears that way.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

International Family

I am currently flying back towards home from a life changing trip to Australia. Thanks technology I am able to begin sharing my experience from the airplane. So, for a quick update: I've been down under for the past 18 days. I spent a few days in Sydney being a tourist but the rest of the time I spent in Melbourne with 130 diabetics from around the world (70 countries to be exact).  This opportunity was made possible by my member association as well as IDF Young leaders.  A quick overview, I applied for the volunteer position and was selected along with another Canadian representative, Russ.

I went into this experience not knowing what to expect. I knew that there would be people with diabetes, I knew that the weather was going to be nicer than home and I knew that I would be united/reunited with some people that I had known from the past. The reality of it was that yes the weather was beautiful, and yes I was reunited with some great past friends but what I didn't realize was how much I would leave impacted by my peers living with diabetes from around the world.

I learned a lot.  More than I ever imagined.  This experience taught me a lot about diabetes but more so it taught me about friendship.  I grew close with a few other representatives. Realizing that we all come from different cultures, countries, backgrounds and languages yet, share a diabetes story.  I kept a journal throughout the experience and I look forward to sharing my experience with everyone else. More so, it's my job to come back to Canada with a project.  I feel empowered and energized.  Diabetes gave me an international family.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our T1 Youth

Roommates dressed up for World Diabetes Day 2013
In the past four years I have met some pretty awesome people, but more so, some really great youth living with type 1 diabetes.  I find it fascinating as I see youth taking charge, believing in volunteerism, spreading messages and fully engaged in awareness and education. When I was their ages, I was not thinking of ways to raise money to make a difference nor was I going out of my way to teach others about a particular cause or issue. Diabetes has given these youth an opportunity to become passionate as much as diabetes is a burden in their lives.

I've grown incredibly excited for what the future has to offer for type 1 diabetic youth.  As I meet more and more youth living with type 1 I realize that they have so much potential in truly making a difference in the diabetes community. It is a breath of fresh air knowing that they want to make change.  I don't know what it is like living with diabetes as a child nor a teen.  I was diagnosed not long before my 19th birthday, and I had finished high school already.

Even though what I go through on a daily basis with site changes, carb counting and finger poking is similar to what children and teens experience, the disease affects people in many different ways.  I cannot imagine being a youth with type 1 diabetes, but most of them could not imagine what their future will look like and I am so excited to be the one to show them that it will be just like anyone else's future, maybe even brighter.

I really think that there are some strong leaders arising in the type 1 diabetes community, I see
potential and honestly, anything I can do to make them succeed, I will do.  I am so proud to be apart of such an uplifting, tight community.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Isn't On Your Mind

Aren't those moments great, when you forget you have diabetes.  I mean, it's not like if someone were to ask you if you had diabetes you would draw a blank, but those moments when the last thing on your mind is diabetes. You are so excited, living in the moment, pump is full of insulin, site feels non-existant, fingers haven't been poke in a couple hours and for a moment diabetes isn't on your mind - the moment is instead.

The pizzas we made last night - yes I remembered to bolus!
These moments are rare, at least for me. My newsfeed is usually bombarded by diabetes related posts and if not there is at least one ad on the side of my Facebook related to diabetes. I either am thinking about how high my blood sugar is or how much longer I have until I have no insulin left. Although most of this is unconscious thought, I can't help but always put myself in situations that remind me that I live with diabetes.

Yesterday for a bit, I  was able to truly feel non-diabetic. I don't know why but I knew that my pump was full, battery was full and that I was running great blood sugars all day.  I had went to the gym in the morning and since I had only two eggs for breakfast, I took my pump off and let my body naturally lower my blood sugar knowing that I hadn't ate many carbs at all.  Coming home I put my pump back on and checked every now and then but since I was feeling great I wasn't worrying or thinking about my diabetes.

I spent the afternoon at Vince's and since there isn't much of an internet connection out there, I left my phone in my bag and decided to ignore it. I wasn't reminded of my diabetes nor anyone else's and I truly enjoyed my time feeling. I get that I still had my insulin pump on and I did have to check before dinner, but I just let diabetes slip my mind for a part of the day and it felt great.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The odd time I forget my insulin pump. Usually it is tucked in the pocket of my house coat or left on my bed in a pile of clothes that I tossed around while trying to find something to wear.  But, usually if I do forget it at home, I have only ran to Wal-Mart or to class and will be back within the hour. However, today when I left London and unknowingly my insulin pump - before I noticed I was in Brantford, 1.5 hours away from my pump.

I had stopped into the bank to grab some cash and when I came out I felt that my site was stuck on my pants.  It was uncomfortable so when I got into my car I made myself a little more comfortable and unhooked my pants from my site (kind of a weird explanation but I don't know of another way to put it.)  After realizing there was no tubing attached to the site my first thought was that it unhooked from my site.  I felt around my body to see where my pump was. Usually I tuck it in the side of my bra or in the front, but also in my front pockets (I didn't have pockets, so I knew it had to be in my bra somewhere.)  But, nope. It was not anywhere to be found.

I didn't really freak out, but I begged that my blood sugar was good so that I didn't have to go to my parents house and get insulin before my hair appointment.  I checked and I was 4.8 - which was weird because my two previous blood sugar checks at home (while I had a pump on) was 4.8. I instantly thought that this couldn't be possible, so I checked again. It was 4.9. I knew it must be true. I was cured. Or at least for a couple hours.

I headed to my appointment. It was at 3:30 by this time I had been without a pump for 1.5 hours. I checked again just before my hairdresser took me to his station.  It was 4.9.  So strange. It was being stable for me, which was awesome. I felt O.K without insulin, but was hoping that it wasn't going to sky rocket mid hair appointment.  I knew my mom would drive over insulin and a syringe if I needed it. I checked about half way through the appointment and it was 4.9, honestly, I thought something was up. I happened to have a second meter in my bag (because I use it as a USB stick) and it read as 5.0.  So, once again. Cured.

When I got to my parents house after my hair appointment now about 5 and a half hours without insulin. I had some dinner, perogies and sausage and decided I would check after eating and take insulin after that. I wasn't really sure if I should have taken insulin before hand, but since it was such an odd day with super low numbers I wanted to make sure I was bolusing or syringing for the right amount. Plus, I had to drive back to London because I have an early class Wednesday mornings.

After eating and waiting about 15 minutes, my blood sugar was 8.2.  I filled up my syringe and gave myself the amount of units I felt comfortable taking.  It was such an odd day, but honestly I felt really free in having no insulin pump.  I love my insulin pump, but I must admit that sometimes it can be irritating.  The tubing, the vibrating, the finding-a-place-to-put-it.   It makes me wonder if I deserve a bit of a pump break.  

I think I need a few days to think about it. But, not having an insulin pump all day was convincing.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

I am Lucky

Finding a person who will understand your diabetes can be hard.  Often times type 1 diabetics are getting asked questions that we have to swallow down our frustration and answer like, 'Can you eat that?' or, 'Will you grow out of it?'  There are just people out there that don't get, don't want to get it or just aren't willing to deal with diabetes and I read messages from people all the time that run into this issue.  My first response is, 'those people aren't worth it!' and it's true but it is hard to take that in because we know as people living with type 1 diabetes, that it isn't going to go away and if that one person (who is once again NOT WORTH IT!) isn't accepting your diabetes, who will.  The answer is a lot of people.

I have had a few younger teens message me or talk to me about friends not accepting their diabetes.  I think for the most part, people don't understand type 1 diabetes and fear it.  They don't want to see needles, see blood or have to worry about what to do when you go low.  I get it. We come with a lot of instructions, but for the most part we take care of ourselves pretty well, and if you don't like seeing the tiny drop of blood that swells from our finger tips, look away.  

I am lucky. I am lucky because my diabetes made me and my friends closer.  It also truly has given them an idea of the importance of living life to the fullest because they know that I wasn't expecting anything health wise to go wrong in my late teens - but it did and it could happen to anyone at anytime. I am also lucky because I found a man that understands and buys me candy, because he knows I can eat it.  He is so fascinated by diabetes and hasn't stopped wanting to learn about it.  He makes me so proud when he uses words like, bolus or endocrinologist.  I feel like he truly cares about my diabetes.

I hope that for the most part people living with diabetes have had someone close to them really engage in their diabetes and want to know more. It is such an important part of personal acceptance and motivation. I am fortunate to live with another type 1 diabetic this year and our three other roommates are always engaging in questions about diabetes and want to truly learn.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Cake or No Cake

Often on my Facebook newsfeed, posts from diabetes related pages pop up. Usually, I don't respond to them unless I have some good input, and usually the posts that seem to pop up the most are questions posted by parents of type 1 diabetic children.   However, just now a question popped up from a diabetes page that said something along the lines of, 'it's my child's birthday tomorrow, should I have cake or no cake?' At first I wanted to write something like, 'why is this even a question?' but that isn't something I'd actually say to someone in person (which I think is important to think about before you post your opinion online)  So I decided to really think about it.

Old Photo, but hey! I am eating cake.
It makes me wonder how many children with diabetes are being neglected their birthday cake? There has to be parents that do not ask these questions online before acting on them.  So, I can only imagine that there are parents not allowing their children to ever eat their own birthday cake, sleepover at someone's house, or trick or treat.   It's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of caregivers, but I am type 1 and do take care of myself.

Now, I did notice that most of the people replying were responded with, 'CAKE!' which is incredibly reassuring because I instantly put myself in the shoes of a type 1 diabetic child, knowing that at birthday parties there is cake, but noticing that at YOUR birthday party, there isn't.   I feel as though that would give that child a notion that having diabetes means being different from everyone else.

We are incredibly lucky to have access to insulin, and even more technology including CGM's and insulin pumps. Raising a child with type 1 diabetes is not a cake walk - totally understandable, but I think as a type 1 diabetic myself, who sometimes can discourage herself, it can be truly hard to feel 'normal' in a world full of non-diabetics.   So, something as simple as a cupcake at a birthday party, shouldn't be the reminder that you're not like everyone else.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Diabetes Haunts

Every now and then I have those moments where I begin to wonder why I was given diabetes. Of course there are no answers that would satisfy me, in fact I don't believe there really are any answers at all.  Only the answers I give myself back when I question myself, to make myself feel better about my situation. I was given diabetes, I was given diabetes for some strange reason, and here I am really bathing in it, trying to see what more can come with my diagnosis, new friends, new experiences, career possibilities, a voice.

The other night I was lying in bed. My insulin pump, which I let freely roam in my bed with me, keeping us connected by the 23 inch tubing, was driving me insane. I was tossing back and forth and each time it twisted around me, pulling my site, not enough to rip it out but enough to feel the pinch.  I didn't want to get out of bed to grab the clip, still I knew had I clipped it to my pajama bottoms I would be shuffling it around, as it is very uncomfortable to  lay on.  My mind slowly began to wander, wander to the place that questions diabetes, that hates diabetes.

I thought about how I managed to not have diabetes for almost 19 years of my life, and how I wish it just never happened, whatever triggered it etc. I hate that I have to worry about everything from my feet not healing properly, to my eyes not being able to see no longer. Why does diabetes haunt us so much? Why do I have to worry about the risk during pregnancy being diabetic, can I get pregnant? Why do I have to relate every little headache, pain, frustration to diabetes - can it be something else?   Why is diabetes haunting infants, children, teens, young adults, and adults?

I shook the thought out of my  head. For there is nothing that I can do about the fact that I have diabetes. Whether or not I like it, I have to deal with it.  It is just incredibly frustrating knowing that it is more than just sugar and insulin. So much more.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Two Strangers Meet

After speaking to a mother of a recently diagnosed daughter I couldn't help but flash back to my diagnosis.  Eighteen years old, not knowing what type 1 diabetes was, I was given a life sentence with no chance of parole. However, it wasn't until I met another type 1 diabetic that I realized that my diagnosis story isn't unique. While some of us have a few cool twists to our diabetes diagnosis, most of us suffered weight loss, poor vision, constant urination or extreme thirst.   I remember meeting my first type 1 diabetic at a cafe in Brantford, Ontario.  I had never 'met' a type 1 diabetic before, or at least never had known another type 1 diabetic.

Photo from a couple years ago.
It is the oddest feeling when two strangers meet, but seem to have so much in common. I remember her saying things like, "I couldn't hold it, I had to go when I had to go..." images flashed in my head of me rushing to the bathroom after chugging a bottle of water, or being in mid conversation with a friend, attempting to hold it in, but having to awkwardly exit the conversation to use the bathroom. It was such a horrible feeling, but to know that she went through the exact same thing was such a strange and powerful feeling.

I think it was important for me to meet a type 1 diabetic that was older than me, someone who had been through the ropes of diabetes for a few years and knew what to tell me and what not to tell me. I went home that day knowing that I could handle diabetes, and that living with type 1 diabetes although a lifetime of a disease wasn't going to take over my life in a negative way.  She inspired me to seek out other ways of dealing with diabetes and encouraged me to bring my writings (something I had already started on Facebook) to life on a blog.

For her encouragement and positivity, yet honesty about life with type 1 diabetes, I believe has formed the person I am today with type 1 diabetes.

Special thanks to that type 1 diabetic that met me that day, Chloe Vance, founder of Connected in Motion.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Solo Low

Unfortunately my blog hasn't been at the fore front of my mind as I have been living the student life, while living with travel life. I just got back from California last night, which meant today I spent half of my day in a classroom writing an exam and half of it, trying to get my luggage to me, because of course it was left in Chicago.  I say, of course because anyone who was following my adventure on my solo-vacation knows that I had a bit of a rough time with planes, shuttles, trains, luggage and yeah, just trouble.

However, I spent a good chunk of time alone, thinking, learning about myself and being scared and then getting over it.  I journaled a bit, so hopefully I can take some time to reflect on that, and go from there.  

I want to speak a bit about traveling alone with diabetes, I think that it could be paragraphs, chapters, books about how to deal with diabetes when alone in general, but it is an interesting thing.  First of all, I am used to being alone, I have lived alone before, so the fear of going low alone isn't really a fear of mine like some diabetics or parents of diabetics.  But, while I don't fear it, it does happen and it can happen before you know it.

That is the issue, you can be sitting in bed watching t.v and just like that you're sweating, you're annoyed, you're shaking, you're hungry, you're feeling sick... the list goes on.  Sometimes grabbing food isn't an issue, you can get out of bed grab something, and even if it takes you a few minutes to decide on doughnuts or peanut butter covered cookies, you've got it under control. But there are times when walking feels like you're on stilts, like the world is slowly crumbling under your feet and your body is twisting, turning and trembling.

One of the nights at my hotel I went to bed with a pretty normal blood sugar.  But, before I knew it was waking up from a dead sleep, sweating as if I had fallen asleep in a sauna.  I knew I was low. But, my snacks were across the room (which isn't that far, it is a hotel room) but it felt like a task and a half to get out of bed and get food. I grabbed all of my snacks and brought them to bed and ate about half of them, or at least it felt that way.  I felt so disoriented, I felt so sick. Sure enough upon checking I was 2.4.

It was such a horrible feeling and as much as I was trying not to fear of what could happen,  it was hard not to imagine what would have happened if I didn't catch  it. I was in a hotel alone in California. Who would have checked on me? I had a dead bolt on the door. Who would have known?

Now, the one thing that brings me back to optimistic land, is that there is a risk for health issues for ANYONE and being alone in a hotel room, apartment, house etc. isn't uncommon.  One could simply slip in the bathtub and have no one home to help, or have heart issues, with no one around. It happens, and it isn't a 'diabetic issue' just like diabetics shouldn't eat too many carbs, neither should everyone else.

However, it is important to think about these things if you are travelling alone with diabetes, have snacks closer, possibly think about running higher at night than normal if you can do that safely without feeling horrible.   But as much as we want to be Patty the Prepared Diabetic, sometimes we are just like everybody else and don't have a plan b for taking care of ourselves.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Let's Be Honest

As diabetics, I feel as though on occasion we lie to ourselves or are less honest with ourselves that we should be.  The majority of the time when we are checking our blood sugar no one else is looking at that number. Unless you are going to your endocrinologist appointment within the next couple weeks, the majority of the time that number that flashes on your meter screen is for your eyes only.

However, sometimes we aren't checking and we aren't checking because we know that number is going to be horrid. We know that we just ate something delicious, we know that we guestimated while talking to our roommate, while whitening our teeth, while checking our email... So, we know that that bolus was way off. We know that the number that flashes before us is going to ruin our day. So, instead we don't check, we go off the way our head feels, slightly tense. We base it off our bathroom habits, peed 3 times in the past 1.5 hours and we base it off of our overall diabetes-senses.  

When, in reality, if we check, we will know the true answer (or almost true depending on meter accuracy which is a different story) and if we know the true answer we can do a correction that is right, not based on senses or guilt. Either way we will be giving insulin, either way we have diabetes, either way we know NO ONE is going to see that number. So what is it that stops us from being able to deal with the truth sometimes?

I think this story goes for those living with type 2 as well.  I remember one time being over at my grandparents house and my grandma was telling me that she didn't want to check because she just had ribs with BBQ sauce and she knew that her blood sugar would be high.  Well, yes, her blood sugar was probably likely high, but we aren't perfect in our estimations sometimes.  I find myself doing this sometimes, and sometimes it is is not guilt but laziness.  I go off how I feel rather than what the results are.  I mean, we wouldn't do that for a diagnosis of any sort, 'I feel like I have diabetes, therefore, I must have diabetes, where is the insulin?!' Instead we do tests to make sure we are accurate in our diagnosis and it is no different than doing a test to see where we stand in the land of blood sugar numbers, in the valley, on the plain or on the mountain.

So, I am going to work hard on checking, checking when I need to know, checking when I am giving insulin and checking when I don't feel well.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do Diabetes

There are days that checking my blood sugar is the last thing on my mind. With textbooks piling on my desk, meetings to be go to at school and my planner flooding with ink markings of tests, exams, essay due dates and travel times, I feel as though sometimes diabetes has been set aside. Not that I am not giving insulin, but that I am unsure of good times to check, with a schedule so unique each and every day is can be hard to set aside the time to 'do diabetes.'

I didn't ask for the position in life as a diabetic. I lived almost 19 years diabetes-free and didn't have to worry about blood sugars or insulin dosages and most definitely I did not worry about midnight low blood sugars or fear the moment I realized I have without food nor money when I am out.  I had problems, dilemmas, tribulations before I had diabetes, but the 'life threatening' problems, dilemmas, tribulations were not present.

It can be incredibly stressful managing diabetes as a young adult. I realize it also can be frustrating for other ages as well, but I am just going to speak on my personal experience of living with type 1 as a young adult.  This is the time in your life where everyone is asking you, 'So what are you going to do with your life?' and the answer is either, 'I was thinking...' or 'I have no idea.'  We are under a lot of pressure at this age because we aren't sure if we are supposed to be doing or masters degree or getting married, having children or travelling? There are so many options at this age for most of us that were are putting pressure on ourselves let alone the pressure from society.    Now, add diabetes to this mixture.

A lot of us not only are worrying about 'what's next?' but how can I do all of this with diabetes. We get that it is totally possible, I know type 1's that have masters degrees, I know type 1's that  have children, are married and have travelled.  But, what is going to work for us, is up for us to find out.  Like I mentioned it can be really hard to 'do diabetes' to not only remember, because we can admit we do remember diabetes, but actually doing diabetes is what matters. You can think about checking your blood sugar, but not actually checking your blood sugar gets you zero points in diabetes world. Thinking isn't going to avoid complications, nor make you successful in diabetes management, it is doing that will get you there.

I don't have the answers as to how to really manage it all. I think it is different for everyone, and as I continue my life with diabetes, I hope that I find ways to avoid too many roadblocks, but there really is no way of telling.  I realize that some days I don't feel like managing my diabetes, and other things take priority, but I do recognize that some days I am awesome with my diabetes, checking at all the right times and correctly treating lows or highs.  

I feel that as long as I take it day by day and accept that I have type 1 diabetes, it is a lot of work, a  lot of hard work...but I am doing O.K, then anything is possible for me.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Being Unique

Most people are staring because they're interested not because they disapprove.  Over the years as I have grown a bit older I have realized that those that hold unique characteristics whether that is unique beauty, those living in wheelchairs, incredibly pale skin, have oxygen tanks, hearing aids, hair down to their toes, whatever it is, people like to stare.  I don't believe that all those that stare are being rude on purpose, nor do we as humans realize when we are staring sometimes.   Usually what lies behind are staring eyes is the curiosity to learn more, know more and really appreciate how different one's life can be.

Karli & I in 2011 at Fanshawe Graduation
My insulin pump is often hidden so it doesn't seem to draw too much attention. However, on the occasions that I wear it on my hip I often see people looking trying to figure out what it is doing, what it is and why I am wearing it.  I have had people asking me before, usually when I am wearing a bathing suit because then they can see that it is indeed attached to my stomach or side.  I don't mind the questions nor the stares because I know that it is human nature to be curious.

I know that there are a lot of conclusions and misconceptions drawn when people stare without questioning the person. Hopefully that person maybe goes home and researches what they saw or at least makes a good conclusion about what they observed.  I think it is always a good opportunity to educate the public when they strike up a conversation about whatever makes you unique.  I know that my friend Karli who lives with Cerebral Palsy and has a wheelchair often asks me questions regarding living with diabetes as I ask her questions about living with C.P.  It's all out of curiosity and the feeling of wanting to know more.

So next time someone is admiring what makes you unique see if they want to know more, or just let them get a closer look instead of feeling shy and attempting to hide it.  Of course some will judge, but that's what happens in life. It's all about being confident in what makes you unique and being willing to share the story behind it.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Goodbye Toe Nail

I am deeply saddened to announce the death of my big toe nail. Okay, so I am slowly getting over it but to be honest I am semi-shocked it completely fell off because I was nursing it since day one of taking off my hiking boots at the lodge in Tanzania.  It all started, I believe at least, on my way down from Kilimanjaro.  The pain of my toes smacking the front of my boots were almost unbearable.

Once we finished the trek down and headed back to the lodge, upon taking off my boots, I realized my feet were pale almost blue like and my two big toes were suffering big time.  My left one was blistered in the nail bed and the nail was raised and my right toe was also lifting.  It was extremely painful.  I ran them under cold water in the bathtub there then bandaged them up.

I had extremely swollen feet on my way home from Tanzania to Toronto. That in itself was irritating let alone these two big toe nails whose future was unknown.  Once I got home I soaked my feet in epsom salt and Vince attempted to take the bandages off without me either gagging or crying.  It was such a gross feeling as the bandage became loose and I knew my toe nail was also wiggling along with it.

It has been about 1.5 weeks since being home and I was religiously soaking my feet three times a day, cleaning it with anti bacterial wipes and constantly keeping an eye on it.   Considering I only  have 15 hours a week of in class work, I had time to keep an eye on it while doing other things around the house. But of course the day it decides to fall off I am in my Shakespeare class.

I looked down and it was hanging off, and it took everything in me once again to not gag nor cry.  I waited for the class to be over, despite not being able to think about Shylock or Antonio, simply only my big toe nail.  After class I went into the bathroom took some toilet paper and grabbed my nail and flushed it down the toilet.  It seems way more dramatic than it actually was, kidding it was pretty dramatic.

I had to babysit after class, so I quickly went to Wal-Mart on my way and grabbed some bandages to keep the skin from getting infected. I didn't have time to soak it until I was finished babysitting.  I was and still am a little worried about it since being diabetic we are told to watch our feet and that things can take longer to heal. It makes me wonder if this is going to be an even longer haul than what google states as 6-9 months of regrowth.

Oh well, as much as I am sad that I only get to paint 9 out of 10 nails, and that I will have to pay even more attention to my feet. I am glad it didn't go with a lame story like, 'someone stepped on my toe...' instead I got it from doing some hard work climbing and then coming back down Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

I trust you, sometimes.

Having an insulin pump is awesome, sometimes.  The truth is, we rely on our insulin pumps a lot more than I think we should.  Often I leave the house, insulin pump in pocket but no backup in plan nor mind.  I forget to pack extra batteries or syringes or insulin and I never really fret about it until the moment happens when the pump decides it is going to take a break.

I lucked out that nothing happened to my insulin pump during the climb.  No frozen insulin, no delivery errors, no low battery warnings - really the only thing was the sensor that would sometimes malfunction but I was always able to restart it.   I was prepared for anything to go wrong on Kilimanjaro though, I brought spare batteries, insulin, syringes even an extra insulin pump.

However, now home my insulin pump decided to make a scene at the fair yesterday afternoon. First, it gave me a no delivery warning after attempting to bolus for a treat at the fair.  I tried again, and again. But it wouldn't work.  I decided to wait a bit and then try again. We paid an arm and a leg to get into the fair and I didn't want to ruin the moment by having to leave or stand around for too long.  So, while waiting in line for a ride it started to alarm.  Now, my pump has alarmed before when I have worn a sensor, but never for anything else. It was like a a fire alarm in my pocket and to be honest, at first I had no idea that it was me.    I pulled it out as it was going off like crazy and looked at Vince - we both had no idea what to do.

He suggested taking the battery out. It didn't say low battery at this point, but everything was flashing and going wild.  I took the battery out but after trying to put it back in, it failed the battery test and wouldn't let me do anything after that.   Thankfully, Vince's parents were coming within the next 30 minutes and were bringing me a battery.  Once the pump had a new battery it was much happier and gave me insulin which in turn let me be able to have dinner and a piece of cotton candy.

I couldn't believe the timing of things - I mean, I am glad it didn't happen in Africa, but at the same time, why couldn't it have happened at home rather than the fair!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Success on Kilimanjaro

For those that do not follow me on social media, I am writing to say I made it there and back. Kilimanjaro was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced in my life, that includes diabetes.  You see, even though diabetes was completely life changing, it was within my comfort zone for some reason. This challenge however went above and beyond my comfort level beginning with the lodge in Africa.

I won't go into too much detail about the trip because I plan to go through my journal (I wrote in every single day) and put together a small publication. However,  I think this blog is more so a summary of all that made up this trek.  

The flight to Africa was long, but not as bad as I imagined. I was trying to think of things I would do on the way, knowing that a. I would be nervous and b. I would be bored. However, I mainly slept and watched animated movies which helped both the boredom and fear.  Something about Pixar is relaxing.  Upon arrival at the Airport I was feeling nervous, and the fact we arrived at night didn't make it any more appealing.   

At the hotel, after meeting a few of the people I had spent months chatting to online - I was comforted but by no means comfortable.   The two days before the climb, I was beyond nervous. I wasn't feeling myself nor feeling social as my mind took over and I couldn't begin to imagine what I was getting myself into.

After the first day of trekking I was feeling overwhelmed - not to say I didn't feel this way the entire time. But, everything about this trip scared me and I was worried about my success in doing this.  I didn't want to let down my team nor the people at home and around the world cheering me on.

I made it however, reaching the summit around 8:30 a.m after trekking for 8.5 straight through the night until the sun rose.  I have never pushed myself mentally nor physically as hard before. So many times I wanted to give up, that voice in my head was constant. I would have so many inner conflicts about what I had gotten myself into.  But, to my surprise I met the congratulations sign at 5895 m in the African sky with tears in my eyes and feeling so completely proud of myself.

I would say that I was prepared for this adventure, but surprised by my own capabilities.  

I am excited to share more of my stories and the real emotions of the climb soon.

Until then, it is time to recover as my toes aren't in the best condition. 


* Disclaimer * My transportation, accommodations, meals and trek was paid for my Sanofi. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

From the Other Side

This afternoon I met up with some type 1 diabetic children/teens and their parents to talk a little bit about my climb to Mount Kilimanjaro as well as my life with type 1 diabetes.  I don't spend a lot of time with children nor teens with type 1 diabetes nor their parents, simply because I know more type ones that are young adults and living on their own.  So, my perspective of type 1 diabetes comes from my own personal experiences of course and that of those living in similar situations as myself.

So, to talk with younger people living with type one and/or their parents is always a different experience because they are experiencing diabetes in a much different light than me. I remember speaking to a twelve year old diabetic girl a couple years ago, and she told me that recess is hard. Now, to me when I think back to recess, it was hard at times, only because if you fought with your best friend the day before, she may be ignoring you, making recess leaving you feel lonely. Or, if your mom refused to buy you the 'cool' fruit roll up snacks, and you're left with some carrot sticks or the no name gummies you may feel un-cool or jealous. But, the reality for a type 1 child at recess is that they can be bullied for having type 1 diabetes on the playground, they can be left feeling segregated because Jill is sharing her cupcakes from her birthday party, and insulin has already been administered. Recess is difficult for type 1 children, but I personally have not experienced type one diabetes as a child.

This empathic view point is what many parents of type one diabetics are left feeling.  Simply because many of them may not know exactly what their child is going through, but at the same time can deeply empathize with them. It is hard for me to view what I do as a hard job when I realize how much work and deep understanding these parents of diabetic children or teens must go through. I get that when I am grumpy or feeling agitated that likely my blood sugar is high and  if it isn't then I likely know the reason why I am feeling grumpy i.e bad test marks, argument with a friend or parent. But, for parents or guardians of type one children, the child may not be able to really tell you exactly how they feel in the same manner.

Diabetes is almost like a completely different disease through the eyes of the beholder or supporter.  Constantly we are trying to understand that of what our (diabetics) caregivers are going through and visa vera, caregivers are trying to understand what their diabetics are going through. There isn't a right or wrong way of understanding the life of a diabetic nor the life of a caregiver of a diabetic, because diabetes means different things to different people.

We just have to acknowledge the hard work that both caregivers and diabetics put into their daily lives in order to stay alive, happy and healthy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Full Circle

A lot of people have asked me what I am most excited about for the climb in two weeks, and there are so many things that I am excited for that is hard to pick. However, today when I was going through my bags of things to pack for Kilimanjaro talking to Krystal (Barbados)  on Skype making sure we were at least on the same page for packing gear, I realized I am really excited to meet the people I've been chatting to online for months now.

I've become fairly close with two of the climbers, Sally (Australia) and Krystal.  We talk almost daily and seems to get along well.  Krystal I had met online when I went searching for a pen pal  on Google. Her name came up in an old forum  about also searching for a pen pal. Despite it being a few years older I contacted her anyways and wrote her an email letting her know that I was willing to be her pen pal.

We exchanged a few written letters and she even gave me a shell one time in the mail.  We talked further on Facebook chat and when she was asked to climb she asked me if I wanted to join to represent Canada.   It will be a full circle once I get to meet her in Tanzania, we are both attending IDF - Australia so, we can fully celebrate our success there on the beach somewhere with a drink in hand.

Sally has climbed Mount Everest Base camp, which to me is already an accomplishment and a half. Although she seems pretty experienced she is very down to earth and helpful! We have chatted almost daily since adding one another on Facebook. Reassuring each other and giving advice.  Looking forward to also meeting her in person in two weeks.

Of course I am excited to meet the other members on the climb as well, I have also been chatting with them and learning more about them each time.  I am excited for the stories I will hear, the lessons I will learn and the amazing life time friends I will make from this adventure.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I am at the point in my life where doors are closing and new doors are opening. Where opportunities are arising, but some choices need to be made.  I mean, I get that I am only twenty-two soon to be twenty-three in the next three days, however, as much as people tell me I am young, as much as people tell me 'wait until you get in the real world' it makes me want to shout back at them, 'I AM IN THE REAL WORLD.'

This will be my last year of University and I cannot be more thrilled that in the past five years not only have I managed to survive with diabetes, but accomplish a college diploma as well as a degree. I doubt my education door is closing behind me, but I cannot shake the feeling that something is closing behind me.  No longer is school going to be that crutch I lean on for safety, 'I am not working, but I am in school.' I will be walking through a new door, maybe there will be a few familiar faces along the way, but over all I am going to be transitioning.

I have things that I want to accomplish and experiences I want to feel.  I feel as though this summer has been a rush, a blur and I didn't really have much of a chance to sit down with my thoughts.  However, I am hoping a lot of flight time and quiet mountain gazing will give me the chance to figure out a few things about myself and what doors I am looking to go knocking on.

Even though some might tell me that I have not entered the real world, I think I have.  It may be a different world from tomorrow, ten years from now, but either way the world I live in is very real.  Ever changing, but real.  I am excited for the future, excited to learn more about myself along the way and see what doors open and what doors close.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Taking A Toll

If you don't bolus you're going to have a bad day, that little diabetes voice often mumbles to me after I get ready to eat. It's not that I don't want to take insulin for what I am eating, but sometimes I forget after getting through half my meal or I have hidden my pump in my bra and don't want to go through the inconvenience of leaving the dinner table to give myself an injection.  You see, without insulin of course, my blood sugars will simply rise having nothing to lower them.  Then, sometimes when you possibly get around to taking insulin for the meal you forgot to bolus for, you find yourself chasing highs not being able to get them down to a decent level.

Sometimes it is not that you forgot to give yourself insulin, but rather you didn't give enough.  It can be really hard to carb count for something without a package.  Sometimes when you've followed the rules of carb counting by looking at nutrition guides you will still find yourself being defeated by a slice of pizza or handful of gummy bears.  Often times our high blood sugars can be in relation to life's stressors, the weather, hormones, all of the above.

The annoying part of it all is that when your blood sugars high, often you're not in the mood for people, things, sounds, weird smells, you name it, everything makes you angry.  It can truly ruin your day waking up with a high blood sugar or hitting one in the evening before bed.  Sometimes it feels like you don't have enough insulin in the world to get rid of the high and to plummet to a decent number or a low too quick, you're left once again feeling annoyed or lethargic.

Sometimes I wonder what a day would feel like without diabetes.  Since diabetes is such an in your face disease, I can't remember what it was like to wake up feeling fine, to finish breakfast feeling good, to have lunch, dinner and a bed time snack without once feeling grumpy, annoyed, agitated or stressed. As much as I'd love to have a perfect diabetes day, there always seems to be a moment where I feel diabetes taking a toll on me.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Give Back

I really love the idea of giving back.  I mean, I often think about it when waiting in line at the grocery store, wouldn't it be awesome to just buy the groceries for this man in front of me? But, while the thought is wonderful, the reality is that I can hardly afford my own groceries let alone the man's groceries in front of me. However, I have tried to make a little difference in giving back by doing small things, one being buying a bun and some apples for a man outside the grocery store asking for change. It cost me simply $2.00 to make the man smile, and I ultimately felt like I gained positive energy from doing it.

I'm not going to lie I have been feeling rather stressed lately. I have had a lot of financial loses, i.e tuition in the last month and while I wait for funding from my Kilimanjaro trip to come in as well as student loans, I am trying to remain calm.  I am also not sleeping well because of the stress of money, my climb and the sense of losing control of diabetes due to being busy.  I have mixed feelings because I know that despite the time, effort and money I am putting into these opportunities I am so blessed to be even given them.  How many people can say that they're climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, spending three days with t1's in Maine, going to L.A for a diabetes conference as well as Australia all within 3 months...

Tonight, as I was stressing out, trying to think of ways to keep my mind positive and possibly start sleeping a little bit better I decided that I wanted to do more to show the world how thankful I am.  I have met a lot of amazing people along the way, I have met people that changed my views, inspired me, taught me a lesson or two.  I want to let those people know that I truly am inspired by them, thankful for them and appreciate them for who they are.  I want to pick a couple people to begin this project with.  Grab their address and write them up a letter.  

I hope others take on this project for their own. Think of people that you don't always talk too, but truly are on your mind, or you know have made an impact on you.  They may not know you feel that way, that you appreciate them and it could make their day, month or year.  Hopefully from there, they also take on the project.

It's a cheap but simple way to give back.


Friday, August 9, 2013


I can't be the only one who feels the frustration of high blood sugars and it isn't that I am frustrated that I have high blood sugar...(well that too!) but more so, one of the symptoms or side effects for me having high blood sugar is being frustrated, grumpy or annoyed.  That is me at the moment.  I have been scrambling to get my things together for my birthday parties, my DLead Boston trip, Africa as well as back to school.  As much as I feel very blessed, I also am losing a bit of myself while trying to balance all that is my life.

Diabetes has been, like always, in the way.  I have to stop and check my blood sugar, I have to eat, and I have to deal with diabetes' wrath.  So, today I got up and was determined to get more done for Kilimanjaro.  I got up at 7:30 a.m had breakfast, watched Big Brother (since I have to wait the next day to watch it...having no cable and all) and then began to organize the list of things I needed. After showering and getting ready it was around 10:45 a.m and I realized if I left now then I would be out during 'lunch' hour and would likely either go low or hungry. Since I have zero money, I knew that going low or buying lunch would not be in the budget, so I waited around until it was appropriate to have lunch.  By the time I waited, had lunch, reorganized myself it was nearly 12:30 and I realized how much I had to do.

I haven't been eating as best as I can since I have been busy almost every single day with gathering things. I have been eating meals that are better classified as snacks which isn't the best for my blood sugars or over all health.   Today I have been battling high blood sugars, ironically I was battling low blood sugars yesterday. I have been in a mood since leaving Walmart after having a frustrating conversation with the pharmacist about why I wanted more than average blood sugar strips. Ultimately he gave me an extra box.

Upon getting home I knew I needed to organize myself, as it is so easy to grab a diet coke and head for the couch, especially when you're dealing with high blood sugars. Instead, I reorganized my desk so that once I get home from Kilimanjaro (September 7th) I am ready for school (September 9th). I kept getting annoyed, frustrated and angry at the littlest things, luckily no one is here to endure my frustration.

It makes me upset that diabetes can have such an effect on our moods.  Why does it have to make us such annoyed individuals at times? Why does it make us yell at people? Yell at ourselves? More than ever I am wishing that diabetes would just relax for the rest of the night, so I can stop being so agitated and instead feeling excited and happy for what the future is bringing in the next few weeks.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Well I am wishing for the weekend to get here fast, so that the week of final exams finally is over and I can enjoy the rest of my summer without having to worry about health psychology or psychology of any kind.  Well, I guess that isn't true because I am sure I am going to be using some stress management techniques as I prepare myself for Kilimanjaro and I will for sure be going through some emotional processes along the way. Either way, I am glad that I won't be tested on it.

I have been really busy with family get togethers,  birthday parties, studying for exams, maintaining my social life and also dealing with diabetes.  I have not been the best diabetic the last couple weeks but managed to pull off a 7.0 a1c which I am pretty proud of. It was 6.7 last time, but admittedly I had a lot of lows as I began training and trying to figure out a schedule.  I have been so busy with all of this I didn't realize that my diabetes education appointment is this Thursday (also the day of my last final exam)  I knew it was in August,  but cannot believe that August starts on Thursday, where did the time go?

It's funny how these appointments seem to creep up on you.  I don't know about other people, but I always wish I had prepared more once I arrive to my appointment. I'd love to be the patient with the binder of information, logs, perfect up-keep, but when it comes down to it manage diabetes isn't pretty nor as simple or organized as a binder of information.   One day though, I'll surprise the nurses with my organization abilities, but it won't be this Thursday that is for sure.

I am trying hard to manage all that is going on in my life right now.  Like I said, I cannot wait until summer school finishes and I can begin other projects I want to work on.  I have had a really good summer, but it has been a lot of stress due to putting too much on my plate, but I know it is all manageable and worth it in the end.  I am lucky to have such an awesome support system to keep me afloat during the chaos of my life.


Friday, July 26, 2013

A Mother's Perspective

I always appreciate those around me that have helped with with my diabetes, but never really asked them how they felt when I was diagnosed or how they deal with my diabetes. I just know that they're always there for me physically and emotionally when I need them. I decided it was time to introduce my readers to someone that has been incredibly helpful along my journey with diabetes and before then of course, my mom. I mention her a lot, in the fact that she has been very supportive in my crazy endeavours and really helped me get my feet on the ground after being diagnosed. Honestly, I know I am the person I am today because of her and know that I wouldn't have handled my diagnosis half as well if it wasn't for her.

I asked my mom if she could outline a little bit about how she felt about having her daughter (me) diagnosed with diabetes, she wrote:

"When my daughter Kayla was first diagnosed I didn't realize that there was 2 different types of diabetes. I told Kayla that she should call the doctor to have her sugar checked when she told me she had drank 6 bottles of water before lunch time and I had also noticed she had been losing quite a bit of weight. My mom worried when myself and siblings were younger about us becoming a diabetic as her father was a diabetic. So maybe that was always in the back of mind and that could be why I thought she should have her sugar checked. I learned very quickly that I was uneducated in diabetes. The only thing I knew about my grandfather being a diabetic was that he had taken pills then eventually had to take insulin shots and that he had to eat meals at certain times and only could so much of certain foods but that is the only thing that I knew about diabetes. Boy have times changed! When Kayla called me from the doctors and said that she could possibly be a diabetic I said to her" you will probably only have to take pills to keep it regulated." It is a day I will never forget! The fear came when the doctors said that she will be admitted to the hospital and that she is a type 1 diabetic and that she will have to give herself insulin shots for the rest of her life. The thoughts that went through my mind is how are we going to handle this, especially when we saw the dietitans and nurse about counting carbs and the math that goes with it. Also about the lows and highs and how to handle them. The day she was discharged from the hospital was a scary day going to the grocery store to pick up food for supper and reading each and every food label to see how many carbs were contained in the product. Then rushing to get home so we can prepare the food and to make sure she takes her insulin at the correct time. What helped greatly is that Kayla is a well organized person and right from the get go she took control of her diabetes. Kayla was planning to go to college in the fall and I was nervous about her leaving home and living on her own, now I began thinking how is she going to move away from home and cope with school work while dealing with lows, highs and counting carbs. Thank goodness for technology that we could constantly keep in touch via text and computer so it felt less like she was away from home. She also was befriended by a wonderful family the Maheus who took her under their wing which helped a lot knowing that she could call upon them day or night if needed. This put my mind at ease greatly! Thank you Maheus!"

She also included that, "Oh yeah There were a couple of times I had to put on my supermom cape and race down to london with insulin but to tell the truth Kayla is my hero! How she copes and deals with her diabetes is amazing! She makes me a proud Mama everyday!"

When I asked my mom about any advice she would give parents of type 1 diabetic children, she responded with: 

"The only advice I can give to other Mothers of diabetic children and young adults is to be very supportive and teach them how to control their own diabetes so when it is time for them to leave the nest the worry will be still there but not as great!"

My mom then sent me another message about my diagnosis, that she had waited to tell me until she knew that I was fully O.K with my diagnosis.  She said, " I would cry on my way up to the hospital thinking why did this happen to my daughter but would put on my fearless face by the time I got to her hospital room. I didnt want her to see how worried I was. I knew I had to stay strong for both of us so we would be able to deal with this disease."

It almost had me in tears knowing how strong my mom was in making sure that I was O.K and most importantly knowing that I needed her support and she was willing to do whatever it took.  I left for college within a few months of being diagnosed and had no fear in knowing that I was going to be O.K because I had the support of my mother.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Little Help

Awhile back I attended a seminar by Sugar Free Shawn. I wrote about it a couple times because it was one of those talks that you take home a piece of it and never let it go.  I was thinking about something he said, something I actually wrote down, 'Someone who breathes life into your life.' This was in regards to placing positive people in your life that aren't bringing you down, aren't being negative, aren't creating a dead end in your life.
Along my life path I have ran into those who aren't breathing life into my life.  I feel as though there are moments that I can be negative or doubt myself or someone else.  I try to be conscious about times that I am doing that because I realize how negative people appear on the outside as well as the atmosphere they create.  I don't want to think that I am full of rainbows and butterflies all the time because I am not, but I know that through the past four years of my diagnosis I have really tried hard to focus on the positive aspects of life.

This past while with raising some funds for gear for Kilimanjaro as well as speaking with friends and family about my fears regarding the climb - I have realized that I have created a space of positive people around me. Of course the odd time I am going to have a doubter, a non believer what have you, but for the most part the people that I surround myself with the most are very much so breathing life into my life. They're encouraging, excited and make me feel relaxed and confident. 

Diabetes takes a lot of emotional beatings on you. It is hard to relax and stay calm when your body is doing the opposite.  There is so much to do with diabetes, it is constantly wanting your attention and every task comes with a blood sugar check or a needle. It makes so much sense why Sugar Free Shawn wants everyone to have people in their lives that are so positive and uplifting, because it is impossible for one person to always be the breath of life, sometimes you need a little help. 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Brave Needles

The last time I got blood work done, as always, the nurse asked if I am O.K with needles. Often their tone of voice makes it seems as though, what they really want to say is, 'You're O.K with needles because you're diabetic right?' but for me this isn't the case. I may be diabetic, but I do not like getting blood drawn from me and never have.

The misconception is, that diabetics wouldn't mind getting blood work because we get it done frequently and because we give ourselves needles every single day, or every three days. However, giving a needle to ourselves is far different from someone tying off your arm, jabbing a needle in the bend of your arm and drawing vials upon vials of blood. Totally different.

So, my procedure after telling them that I dislike getting blood drawn, is to simply look away.  I do not fear the actual needle, it hardly hurts, but to see that blood fill up that vial will for sure result in some light headedness or at least a gag. The nurses always seem to laugh at me, in fact one nurse told me, 'You diabetics are the worst!' I took it as a joke, seeming as we are believed to be the masters of needles when in reality at times we can be just as scared as anyone else.

This last time I went though, after I told the nurse I didn't like needles, she responded differently, "Well you're brave because I hate the thought of giving myself a needle, I would make someone else do it!" Mind you, she said this as she jabbed my arm, and I made no eye contact with her.  I responded with,
"Well, I couldn't imagine doing your job.  Giving needles, drawing blood..." I didn't even get into the part about collecting stool and urine.  She kept telling me how brave I was and that I was braver than her, but I kept thinking about what she does for an occupation.

It's funny how we each see each other in different lights. How something I do is seen as brave from a person who gives needles to people multiple times daily, and how she sees her job as being so ordinary.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our Motivators

As diabetics we all hate when people share stories with us about their uncle that went blind because of diabetes or their second cousin who lost his leg because of diabetes, but the truth is is that these stories are real, people don't just make them up.  We hate hearing them because we don't think of our diabetes as something that can kill us.  Even now,  I will be reading an article and it will say something like, 'diabetes is the 4th largest cause of death in North America' (not a real fact) and I will have to remind myself that yes, diabetes is serious and it can cause death . . . well its complications can.

To not be absolutely morbid about the dark side about diabetes, I wanted to write today after I saw something worth talking about.  Because, when someone says my aunt lost her leg to diabetes, you may pretend it isn't real or it happens to people we don't know or see, but today I saw someone that lost both their legs due to diabetes complications and it totally shook me.  Now, I didn't break down and cry as the man pushed the handicap button and came through the doors of the doctor's office in a wheel chair with his pants pinned at the knee of both his legs.  But, I did pull out my meter and strips and did a test right away.

You see, it reminded me that to me diabetes is something that I have taken and tried my hardest to put a positive spin on it.  I created communities, job opportunities for myself as well as gained so many different experiences with new found friends.   But, diabetes isn't pretty, it can cause so much damage in a persons life and sometimes it isn't seen physically like two amputated legs, but emotionally.

I am not going to lie, I have moments when I think about what a life with diabetes can be. It can be positive, it can be OKAY, but it can be so bad, negative, deadly.  It scares me to think what the future could hold for me with diabetes and yes I know if I take care of myself, I can avoid these things, but how do I know that?  How do we know this?

It's a whole bunch of blood sugar checks and insulin injections for the rest of my life that will keep me alive, and hopefully keep me from being the one walking through the doctor's office door with signs that diabetes defeated me.   It will take the army of the diabetes community to keep me smiling and keep me writing.

Why does this disease happen to us? Why does it involve all of the worst complications known to man? Why does it involve the sweetest of things, candy, pop and juice?

I don't think any answer could really satisfy a person that feels defeated, that may have lost something due to diabetes, but for those of us that are still doing well, thriving, alive and feeling like we have a fighting chance, we will for now have to think about the consequences as our motivators.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freaking Out

Tonight I spent a good chunk of time talking to others climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with me. We have all been chatting online trying to keep each other focused and organized with the climb.  We have been sharing tips and asking one another questions.  Overall, I think the group that we have climbing is a great group of individuals and will have a lot to offer one another along the way. However, I AM FREAKING OUT.

It's midnight now and I have been tossing and turning, trying to sleep, but finding myself back on Facebook or Instagram or checking email (because clearly people send emails at midnight.)  I can't seem to focus my mind on just falling asleep.  I feel as though this summer is speeding by and everything is due or needing to be done and I am falling behind.  This is to say with things related to school, my personal businesses and over all social life.

My Kilimanjaro Flight Tickets 
Not to mention I am climbing that mountain, remember? So, back to the part about freaking out, after chatting with my fellow soon-to-be mountaineers, I have decided that I am crazy in the fact that I decided to do this, not crazy as in I regret my choice, but crazy as in what has diabetes made me do? Climb a mountain.   I am terrified in the sense that I feel prepared, but how do you prepare? I have heard both good and bad stories which is much like the case with diabetes.  'I have diabetes,' 'My uncle has diabetes...he is blind'  OR 'I have diabetes,' 'My cousin has diabetes, she is a pilot!' Yay.

I am worried because this is out of my comfort zone, but I am sure no one has a 5895 m mountain in their comfort zone.  I am excited because this is an opportunity of a life time. I am emotional about it because I cannot believe it is real and it is happening in 43 days. Beyond having to train for the next month and a bit, I have so many other things to accomplish before school begins two days after I return from Africa.

Who knew that diabetes was more than just sites, blood sugar checks and insulin, for me diabetes has become so much more.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Diabetes Burn Out

Keeping motivated with diabetes is a hard task.  Some talk about diabetes burn out, where a person simply isn't in the mood to deal with diabetes any more.  It takes all their power to check their blood sugar and maybe not even their own power, rather the help and power of others to keep them on track.  Personally, I can say that I have felt the symptoms of diabetes burn out creep into my life. The feeling of not completely giving up, but having grown tired of doing the daily routine of diabetes management.

It really is a ten second chore to check your blood sugar.  On the scale of things, we spend much more time doing less productive tasks than the important tasks of keeping up with our diabetes.  But, for some reason that ten second task translates to a huge obstacle for those that suffer from diabetes burn out.  Sometimes, in my mind I know I should check my blood sugar, my purse may even be close by with my kit, but I still ignore the call and go without knowing.

It's bad! I know it's bad and when I think about all of the complications that can arise with unnoticed and uncorrected high blood sugars, you'd think that would be enough to convince me.  But like the smoker knows the consequences, most diabetics know, but still cannot resist the urge to ignore or push aside the duties that we were given without request.

For getting over diabetes burn out, it takes a lot of emotional self talk. Really thinking about why you're not checking or administrating insulin for a meal.  Diabetes very much so can alter your emotions and really bring you down without warning.  Personally, writing really helps me with keeping in check with my diabetes and reminding myself of what type of future I want. Often times I do blood sugar checks in the midst of blogging because I begin to feel the motivation kicking back in.

We can't expect to be full of happiness, inspiration and rainbows all of the time. After all, we all know that urge of frustration we get when dealing with high blood sugars, or that sudden urgency during low blood sugars.  Beyond the ups and downs of blood sugars, diabetes in general is a big task at hand, and it is a daily task.  It's okay to feel like it's not fair, or to feel like you need a break.  As much as we all wish that diabetes would take a day off or go on vacation, it's like our shadow.

Accepting diabetes doesn't mean holding its hand, kissing its cheek and buying it flowers. It means, knowing that it is there, doing what needs to be done, and not letting it take a hold of your life beyond what is necessary.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Not Second Nature

Someone posted a video on a Diabetes Facebook group of a young girl, only three, checking her blood sugar. I decided to play it, not knowing what my reaction would be from it. See, I check my blood sugar upwards of eight times a day, so you would think seeing others check their blood sugar would be like second nature. But, for some reason, watching a young child check his or her blood sugar is a much difference experience for me.

I played the video, and couldn't help but notice how adorable the little girl was as she sat on her floor with her kit beside her.  She was very particular as she would do each step carefully and tidy up after each step.  I did notice that she is much more thorough with her blood sugar checking procedure, she actually changed her lancet, and she used an alcohol swab to clean her finger, something a lot of us diabetics leave out as we get lazy perhaps, with technique.

She was adorable as she gave a play by play at what she was doing as her mom taped her.  She hardly needed any help, the only thing was to get the top of the lancet device off, and a few times her mom tells her not to worry about tidying up.   At the end she says her name, and then tells us all what she just did with a smile on her face.

I was diagnosed at age eighteen, so when I began to check my blood sugar on my own after leaving the hospital, the process was fairly simple but tedious.  To watch a young girl do the exact same steps as I do every single day, without crying, without screaming, without giving up, gives me the strength to keep smiling after blood sugar checks and keep moving.  After all, she is only three and I am sure she would much rather be playing with dolls or watching her favourite show, but instead she takes the time to take care of herself, something most three year olds could not even grasp.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Climbing Mountains

Since I have been training for Kilimanjaro, many people have been asking me about what it is like dealing with exercise and diabetes.  To be honest, besides dealing with eating specific food and diabetes, exercise is a close second or tie.  It has been incredibly difficult training and dealing with blood sugars because as much as I try to pin point insulin ratios or timing, I haven't been able to figure it out successfully each and every day.

Now, I have had good days, where I can work out and keep my blood sugar within a decent range, but I also have days (a lot of days) where I go high or low after working out.  It's funny because it seems like an easy thing, exercise lowers blood sugar, so why can't we just go work out after a meal or take our insulin pumps off?  Well, as easy as it sounds it doesn't always work.  I have tried going after a nice oatmeal breakfast, or I have tried turning off my pump, lowering my basal rates, eating right after my work out, all of these things I have tried, only to be defeated.

The other night my friend Mitch was over, who is also type 1. We got on the topic about working out since he has been going to the gym recently, in fact he went to the gym just before he visited me, but had to stop at home to treat a low.  He was telling me how incredibly frustrating it can be to have to eat after a work out because once you go low there is no turning back, you have to treat it.  It's hard because that little low voice in our head wants us to raid cupboards, but in reality we so badly just wish that we weren't low so that we didn't feel like we wasted an hour on that elliptical.

For me, I have not let diabetes stop me from working out. It was once recommended for diabetics not to do any physical activity and now we are climbing mountains.  Even though I haven't seemed to find the perfect combination for keeping within a good range after working out, I know that it isn't just physical activity that fluctuates blood sugar. Every single day even when we're not moving around our blood sugars are bouncing all over the place. We just have to take it one day at a time and give ourselves credit for the small successes.