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.