Monday, March 31, 2014

We are an Army

Finding support while living with type one diabetes has been easy for me. It isn't easy for everyone though. For me, it's hard to imagine a world where you believe you're the only type one, or you know they're out there, but just can't seem to run into one.  You scan the pockets of people on the bus, only to mistake headphone cords for insulin pump cords. You hear the word 'basal' and your ears perk up only to see someone reaching for the spice rack.

I have met people along the way that have never met another type one, or at least another type one their age. Their excitement for just being around the presence of another person 'just like them' glows. They want to tell their diabetes story knowing that the conversation is going to be a constant flow of 'ME TOO!'  We want this because it is comforting knowing that this battle we face isn't a solo combat; rather, there is a whole army of us out there trying to get through each day living with diabetes.

We are an army. We are strong, we are tough and we have reason to fight.  We spend time preparing our action plans and we have to be prepared for the unexpected.  We fight twenty-four-seven. Even when we are sleeping, at any time we can be woken up by the vibrating of our insulin pumps or the voice in our head, demanding us to wake up and treat.  We are strong and together we are stronger.  Our battles may seem like solo efforts, but truly we are all doing our parts with each other in mind.

For those that feel like they have no army, controlling and accepting diabetes can be incredibly difficult. Imagine running into a combat field alone with fifty people running towards you. Blood sugar checks, lows, highs, insulin ratios, carbohydrate counts, the endo, the nurses, A1c results, frequent urination, insulin pump malfunctions, sore fingertips, parents, and school. Alone, with no one to talk to, a person without the feeling of an army behind them, can feel alone in battle.

I truly believe that social support is just as important as insulin and it hurts to know there are people out there who are hiding their diabetes or cannot seem to find that social support.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


I have been dealing with hives and swelling of the joints/lips/eyes for about a month now. To say it is annoying is an understatement.  I have been to the doctors and I am not prescription medication for 'allergies' but I know that this is likely not an allergy as I have carefully examined everything and nothing seems to make sense.

I have mentioned this in a previous blog that I am prone to hives.  A year before my diagnosis of diabetes I death with hives for a year straight in grade 12. Every single day and night I had hives, a lot of hives and extreme swelling. It was painful, hideous and mystery to every doctor and specialist that saw me.

Five years later I am crossing my fingers that this better not be happening again. I don't think I can do it again, yet a month later I am still dealing with the swelling hives that are so itchy, warm and irritated.  Some days are worse than others, sometimes the swelling lasts for only a couple hours while other times it is the entire day.

The medication I am on makes me very dehydrated and at times I feel like it is doing nothing.  I was given a month's worth plus two repeats, I am hoping that doesn't mean that the doctor thinks this is going to stick around for awhile.

So many people keep asking me similar questions, "Did you use different detergent?" "Are you using different soap?" But honestly, I have switched it all up and because this has happened in the past, even before grade 12, I know that whatever causes these hives isn't as simple as detergent.

I am assuming they're stress related, but I have completed all of my assignments and essays and really the only thing to do is do well on 5 exams, graduate, move into a new apartment, find a job and... okay, well that does sound pretty stressful.

Either way, I beg that my hives will go away soon, as the weather is getting nicer and I don't want to be burdened with these hideous hives.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is Good?

Recently I went into the lab to get some routine blood work done, as I have an endo. appointment coming up next week.  Of course, not only do they forward the lab work to my end's office, but also to my family doctor's office.  It did catch me off guard when my family doctor called this morning.  It was the nurse on the other line telling me that she just received my blood work. I flashed back to when the same lady called me five years ago to tell me that my blood sugar was high and that I needed to come in.

Sadly, she said something along the same lines, "your blood work came in, your A1c is really high..." I thought I heard her wrong. I was mid-nap as we had to leave Hamilton at 7 am to make it to London for 10 a.m (since Vince booked an early doctors appointment) so I figured I must have heard her wrong.  My last A1c was 7.2, just before my climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.  So, I asked what the A1c was:


7.8, well it's not perfect, but I've seen higher, I've heard of higher and I am not sure that my endo. is going to be overly disappointed in me. After all it's been winter for a few years (or at least it feels that way) and it's crunch time for school, finals are coming up, essays are due, assignments are due, and not to mention I maintain a social life and work life that gets me through.  She then asked if I am still seeing my doctors in London.   My god.

See, I feel like as type one diabetes we are spread thin between so many health professionals, amateurs, judgey-mc-Judgersons, and to be honest our friends, families and all of the people that keep tabs on our diabetes.  It's not a bad thing to have people guiding us along the way but when a diabetic feels like they are running out of air, it truly feels like we're well, running out of air.

I wanted to say back, "Of course I see my doctors, why else would I get my blood work done.  Also, do you know it's the end of the school year? Do you know what is 'good' for people with diabetes. Do you know what it is like to deal with a disease that wakes you up in the middle of the night forces you to eat cookies, tabs, bananas, juice boxes and glasses of milk and then you're expected to write important exams the next day? Do you know what it is like to have to apologize time after time for getting short with someone because your blood sugar is high because your pump is in your shirt and you didn't want to disrupt the conversation by having to reach down your shirt to give insulin...DO YOU KNOW!"

And, while I know not everyone can know. Those that are in the professions that need to know, well they need to know.  I am not new to diabetes and telling me that my A1c is high on the phone, in the morning, is not the ideal way to wake up, especially when I don't feel like it is all that bad.  I am sure I have ranted about this before, as it has happened before. But, the important message to anyone that stumbles upon this post is that people living with diabetes are spread thin sometimes and it is important to acknowledge that we actually do care to take care of ourselves, but it is not always easy and the messages we receive as patients can be very misunderstood as we never really know, what is good?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Little Treat

Today I treated myself to the spa. Something that I wouldn't normally do, but because I had a gift card on file, I was able to enjoy complete spoiled-ness for 60 minutes as my feet soaked in warm water and someone massaged my feet/legs.  It was awesome. I stayed off of my phone and just read a few gossip magazines and attempted to relax.
Artistic Spa, London, Ontario. 

This morning I woke up with two swollen eyes. Like I mentioned in the last post, this is becoming something I am used to. 'What will I wake up with next?' Sometimes it is a swollen lip, sometimes a swollen wrist, and other times like this morning, a swollen eye.  I couldn't even wear my contacts as it looked like I got punched in the eyes. Lovely.

However, with some cold compress they seem to be getting less puffy.  I still have some errands to run before Michelle arrives, but other than that, the rest of the day should be enjoyable and peaceful. Tomorrow I speak at Rainbow Cinemas as they are having an event to screen, The Muppets Movie. Vince, J and Michelle will be coming along.  I am really looking forward to speaking briefly about my diagnosis, Kilimanjaro as well as my Medtronic pump.  I am also excited as J has never heard me speak before.  Later in the week I will be speaking in Hamilton at the JDRF Infosium. I am also looking forward to that.

All in all, I am going to really attempt to focus on feeling good, making connections, and focusing on taking one step at a time.  I have a lot of things going on like I mentioned before, and I want to make sure I give everything my all from speaking to school to moving into my new apartment come the end of April.

For now, it's time to go buy some diabetes supplies... my favourite.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Losing My Mind

You know on the movies when the mom is making dinner and the kid keeps screaming, banging on the table and the mom just freaks out. She yells and locks herself in the closet... well I am now picturing Sex in the City 2 when Charlotte can't handle her children anymore. Well, that is how I feel about diabetes sometimes. Like I am Charlotte and I can't handle children anymore.  Instead of children screaming it's my insulin pump and instead of the child banging on the table, it's me losing my mind because my blood sugar is high.

Charlotte from Sex in the City 2 Movie (Thanks Google!)
As much as I'd love to be like Charlotte and lock myself in the closet and cry, there are times when you have to take action because, well you can't just walk away from diabetes. Not that you can walk away from your children, but sometimes you can hire a babysitter. No one babysits diabetes, I am the full time guardian of this disease and it's never leaving my side.

I have been extremely stressed lately. To the point that I have given myself hives for the past three weeks which includes the random swelling of whatever body part it feels like swelling, this morning half of my upper lip.  I am assuming this is stressed induced as I have ruled out all other allergies etc.  I also was told that this was a response I had as a child.  I was very attached to my mother (hmm, maybe like said picture above) Anyways, I would not want to leave her, so if there was a class trip, BAM! I would get hives.  

While I don't live with my mom anymore, other stresses have replaced that attachment issue.  Now it is everything changing and ending, starting and pausing. I have so many ideas of what I want to do, what I need to get, what needs to be finished. I realize this list never stops. It isn't about getting things done, it's about learning how to handle it.  But, please, let me rant.  I get that everyone has things they have to do and I totally accept all the tasks I take on, but with this added diabetes thing, at any minute I feel like everything can change.  The vibrations of my insulin pump going off means a site change, and yes, it's easy and it's quick, but sometimes I just don't want to do it.  But like I mentioned this isn't something you can just neglect or send away. It all has to be done.

Tomorrow I booked myself into the spa for an hour pedicure (I had a gift card, I'm not in any means in a position to pay for one myself...) I am hoping that for that hour I can take my mind off whatever is causing my stress. That I can take the time for myself, which I feel selfish for saying, but seriously. Tomorrow my good friend Michelle is also coming by, which will be fun and relaxing since I could use a big laugh and I know that's bound to happen.

I know that diabetes is going to be following me for the rest of my life, so I think that I need to learn to ask for help sometimes, look for advice and not feel horrible for wanting to throw my diabetes supplies out the window and hide in my closet.


Thursday, March 20, 2014


Sometimes when everything piles on your plate it is hard to image what really it is that you enjoy. With school speeding up and slowing down all at once, I have realized that in a couple short months (not even) I will be done school.  I will be done writing exams, done studying, done watching Netflix all day....

There are a couple of passions that I am excited to work on once everything is finished with school. One is writing of course, and I have maintained the blog throughout my schooling career, and I do want to continue it, but I also want to write for the sake of writing again.  I used to do creative writing all the time, not for anyone but myself. I loved making up stories and reading them and looking back on them too.  I just haven't had the time or felt 'free' to do it because of other writing obligations. 

The second passion is to work with type one diabetics in the community. I love connecting with people and sharing my story or giving advice. I also love hearing the stories of others. I want to work with teens with type one diabetes and I hope to find an outlet to do so.   

Thirdly, I want to read. Not a textbook or a peer reviewed article or a quick buzz feed thing. I want to read the books that are on my shelf that I got half way through because I had to do something else. I want to be able to snuggle up on my couch and read a book guilt free and not have to take notes because I have a paper to write.

As much as it is going to be hard transitioning from classroom to who knows where... I am excited to start new things and work on new projects.   


Five Years Later

Last week I celebrated my five years of living with type 1 diabetes.  It was a great celebration of life, as I was surprised to come home to balloons, streamers, dancing and singing (thanks roommates) as well as an ice cream cake that said, 'Five Years Strong' written on it.  Vince even went as far as printing the nutrition information of the ice cream cake, after all I'm not the only one with diabetes living in the apartment either.

It is hard to imagine what life would have been like had I not been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five years ago. I was such a different person then and for some reason it is hard to imagine what life was like pre-diabetes despite it only truly being five years ago.  I have found so much inspiration from my diagnosis that is it is hard to imagine who I'd know, where I would have travelled, what I would know had I not been diagnosed. I feel like my life would be in such a different place at this moment had it never happened.

Of course the past five years have no been all balloons, cake and streamers.  It has been tough.  I have  pricked myself god knows how many times and I have felt the pain of diabetes that is very much internal.  It isn't easy and even when you feel like you have it under control, the numbers often reflect different.   I hope that in my lifetime managing life with diabetes evolves as it has so much with technology. I am all for smaller pumps, smaller meters, and better quality of life.

So here is to many more healthy years of living with type 1 diabetes. I hope to share my story with many, and make a difference in the diabetes community and beyond.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Alcohol & Diabetes

The last time I got a vial of insulin it had a sticker slapped on it that said, "Do not drink alcoholic beverages when taking this medication." I've been buying insulin for five years now and I have never seen this sticker before. I posted it on Facebook and got some responses that said, yes! I get this sticker too.  I have come to the conclusion that the sticker gets put on the box when the pharmacist is maybe slightly concerned about the complications of drinking alcohol and having diabetes.

I have always been told that it is O.K to consume alcohol with my diabetes, of course there are precautions that must be taken and getting absolutely drunk is not good for anyone, diabetic or not. However, I was diagnosed with diabetes heading into college. Not that I drink a lot, because to be honest I rarely ever do considering I have gone through almost five years of post secondary. However, on occasion I do drink.

I have discovered a few things about drinking and diabetic'ing and of course it is always going to be different for everyone so as a precaution PLEASE know that what works for me, works for your neighbour, works for your Aunt and what works for you, can be completely different.

For me, I am ultra-aware of the fact that I am diabetic. I think that just like when you go drunk-texting your ex boyfriends, I go drunk-mouthing about my diabetes.  I know I have diabetes, I talk about diabetes and I 'hate' diabetes.  Well, at least the last time I drank I was becoming very annoyed with the fact that I had diabetes, as I ran out of test strips and sober-Vince had to drive me home to test my blood sugar.  (So, another thing, it is extremely important, to have someone with you that CARES about you, KNOWS about you and is willing to do WHATEVER for you.)  

Second thing is that the next day my blood sugars are awesome. Now, as much as it sounds like I found a good remedy for diabetes, other effects of drinking alcohol outweigh the fact that it gives me good blood sugars. I rather work hard for good blood sugars than have good ones, while feeling sick (hungover).  

Lastly,  it is easy for forget thing when you are drinking but with any attempt possible, I try to make sure I always have my things.  Now, yes previous I just mentioned that I ran out of test strips. However, I had been checking a lot that night, and didn't predict I would be a Tammy Tester and use all my test strips that fast.  However, I try to remember to have all three important parts of blood sugar checking, my meter, my pricker and my strips as well as glucotabs and cash in case I need to buy food.

Drinking and diabetes may seem like a hassle and for some people it totally is. However, if you attempt to be as responsible as you can, drinking and diabetes can work.  But, like I said everyone is different in how the manage their diabetes and drinking alcohol and over consumption of alcohol can be dangerous for anyone, diabetic or not.