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.