Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's Worse....

After a visit with the allergist, my whole view on medicine and doctors changed. I didn't know what to believe, where to turn, what to think. My stupid hives that covered my body, once believed to be that of stress or food, became so much more as he began to go on about how I needed to see a blood doctor (hematologist) due to some abnormal blood work.  This same doctor had mentioned about an under-active thyroid, but after further tests that has been dismissed. So I did have some doubt heading into my appointment today.

I was semi prepared to see the 'C' word around me at some point, as the allergist had mentioned the 'C' word before. I was mad at him for mentioning the 'C' word because no one likes that word and it seemed unnecessary, at least until he had some facts.  I didn't realize that going to this appointment today I would be surrounded by the 'C' word, in fact the building I went into had the word in it, the posters, the booklets, the signs... it was everywhere.

I could feel myself getting sick. My head was burning and tears were welling up in my eyes. I was only there to see the hematologist, yet it seemed like I had something worse... and I hate saying worse because I know that real people deal with the 'C' word everyday and I hope to them, something is worse than the 'C' word, because no one wants the ultimate worst thing... For instance, having diabetes, to cheer myself up I think of what is worse, what could have happened, what I could have had instead... and to be honest my worst was being flashed in front of me.

I walked around the hospital like a chicken without his head, until I found a seat by a fish tank.  It seemed calming and I was trying not to look like an idiot and start crying as I was surrounded by those that actually had the 'C' word.  I was given a booklet about the 'C' word and ultimately became confused as if I had instantly progressed upon arrival.  But no, she let me know, "we give everyone this booklet..."  interesting.

I saw a nurse who was super excited, turns out it was his 51st birthday, so I get that, meanwhile I am trying to keep calm as he asks about any history of 'C' in my family or any history of blood disorders, when I responded with 'not that I know of' to the latter, he said, "so it's just you with little blood disorder."


Little Blood Disorder?  Little? Blood? Disorder?

I was now full on confused how was my state changing with each chair I sat on.

Finally after 3.5 hours I got to see a doctor. All in all, I think it went well, they went from wanting to do a bone marrow test to scratching that and doing a skin biopsy (of my hives).  To be honest, I kept thinking, can you guys just get your S^&t together....

I learned something valuable today. As I don't know my healths state right now. I know that there were lots of people there fighting hard. I saw tears, I saw flowery bandanas covering woman's heads that were bare, and I witnessed a bell ring, people get up and clap and a woman jumping for joy (I am assuming she's 'C' word free or did her last round of Chemo, because yes that clinic was beside mine).  I walked out being positive but keeping a piece of my heart (and skin literally) in that clinic because for a moment I realized that what I thought was 'worse' isn't just a thought, it happens, it happens to the young and old, there are people every day going through the struggle that I just imagined as 'worse'. I saw life and I saw hope, I saw sadness and fear...I saw more than I imagined I would see and felt more than I ever knew I could feel. We need cures, we need hope and we need compassion for those living with what's 'worse'.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Twists & Turns

It's official I have graduated! Which seems strange because as I sat there waiting for my name to be called, I began to wonder where the time had gone.  How it feels like a millions years since high school, yet I feel like the journey to today went by like a speeding bullet. I can hardly remember all that went on in those past few years, or even believe that some how I made it through, got all the essays in on time, or even thought of that many essays topics to write on. It's amazing.

I have been writing a lot about new chapters and how I plan to take on the days of the rest of my life. However, at graduation one of the speakers said something that stuck with me and I feel like I have been trying to remind myself of this, but with her reiterating it, it really hit home.  Don't plan the rest of your life, or set too strong of goals, as you never know when life can change, twist and turn and you'll have to change your plans.  How true is that, and how great is that at the same time. We don't need to plan ahead so far in advance that we know how many children we're going to have, what colour we're going to paint the laundry room of our first home or what age we'd like to retire. We can just live in the now and plan for tomorrow, not for fifty years down the road. Enjoy the moment.

I'm happy for all my peers that have also graduated as we all know that it isn't an easy journey to get through post secondary especially with all those little twists and turns that may have changed our plans along the way. 


Friday, June 6, 2014

Grow & Learn

It's been a full week of watching 'E' and I am starting to see diabetes in a different light.  Dealing with type 1 diabetes on my own is much different than helping someone manage their diabetes and I say helping because 'E' is pretty self sufficient in the fact that she actively participates in taking care of her diabetes such as reading the numbers on her monitor and asking questions or telling me about her insulin pump, site, monitor, meter, etc.

I find that when we know our own diabetes it is really easy to become slack and not be as worried as we are for other with type 1 diabetes. I notice it all the time online when people write a question or share a story about their diabetes and people are quick to judge or give advice that they may or may not follow themselves. We all know how to take care of our diabetes because we are explained how to from day one and the amount of resources seem almost overwhelming. However, like I mentioned we can easily ignore the truths and push through our day.

'E' inspires me to check more. Even though she wears a monitor and we don't have to check as much, she encourages me to check mine more. Like, seriously, gets my meter out, puts in a strip and holds the lancet over my finger ready to go. She even will cock it back again when we are done and say, "it's ready to go for next time you check.." How awesome is it to have a mini type 1 to not only inspire me to keep checking and keeping taking care of myself, but also for me to help her. We have each other.

I want to be healthy, I want to embrace diabetes, I want to continue to grow and learn and this was exactly what I needed to keep pushing me in the right direction.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Small Details

I recently read a quote in the book 'Happier at Home' that read:

"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life" - William Morris

I must admit when I first read it, it didn't catch me. But the more I skim past the pages, it stands out and I begin to realize that even if it isn't the true secret, or the without-a-doubt pathway to happiness, I would like to think that approach to details in daily life is an excellent way to go about living and overall being happy with each passing day.

Wild flowers I picked on a walk the other day! 
Life can get pretty mundane after awhile, especially if you work a 9-5 office job. I can only relate this to the time I worked in an office one summer as a student, and felt like the time I was spending could have been put to better use at times. But that's exactly that, I think that is where unhappiness is found. If we know what we are spending our time on is with less potential than we expect from ourselves. When we know we could be doing better, when we know that it can work, but details need to be tweaked in order to fulfill our happiness. I am not saying quit your 9-5 job; however, I think based on the Morris quote, if we approach our days with the most detail, the most focus, we can truly change our outlook on what we do and how we do it, leading to happiness (I would hope...)

I can also relate this to diabetes because it is so easy to get caught up in a routine with type one, because basically it is just a cycle. Although it throws curve balls at us, we know it's going to throw curve balls, so the thrill of those is almost routine like.  However, being detail oriented when it comes to diabetes, I believe can change your mindset about what living with diabetes is about. I have tried very hard to put diabetes into a perspective that is much different from what a doctor sees.  I get that I have to check my blood sugar at least four times a day to get a check from the endocrinologist approving me to continue with an insulin pump, I get that I need to give myself insulin before I begin my meal, but what we can do with type 1 diabetes is outstanding. If we pay attention to the details throughout our daily lives (which is 80% taking care of our diabetes and 90% trying to do other things with diabetes) than maybe, just maybe we can make peace with our diabetes.

In saying this, I am not suggesting that we become obsessive over our diabetes, but simply pay attention to what we are doing. Don't rush through the process, do it with confidence and move on. Allow diabetes not to be a burden in your life (although on a practical side, it does take a lot of our time, money and tears) but fight past that mindset and allow it to be a part of your lifestyle.  It's super easy to make diabetes enemy number one, but I believe that is a waste of energy and a source of unhappiness. 

So, overall, I am going to keep this quote in mind all day and attempt to focus on small details of daily life that maybe we miss because we are too busy. I am going to take the time to check my blood sugar when I should, actually look at food carb counts, pay attention to how I feel.  Enjoy the sun and the heat, pay attention to those around me and what they need and enjoy the special bits of the day that often go without notice.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy Right Now

It's hard not to think in terms of school years. I keep thinking, okay I will do this until September...when in reality September becomes just a month in the year, it isn't the 'New Years' of back to school. It's simply just a month, and at that, an extension of a summer month since September can still be quite mild.  I have been going to school for seventeen years. SEVENTEEN YEARS!  And now, I am free, yet so stuck in the groove in school I can't help but break down the year in that way.

This is the start to the rest of my life. Of course I have been living before, yet not I have no solid commitments to what I have to do or what I don't have to do. I can do whatever and that feels good!  It has been almost too overwhelming deciding what I want to do, where I want to be and what will make me happy, but I have realized that looking that far ahead it impossible as we cannot predict what will change. I automatically have been planning up until September, having to stop and remind myself that it's just a month not a start to anything and that my plans can exceed into fall, winter, spring and back to summer - there is a lot of time to figure out what will make me happy, but more specifically what will make me happy right now is what matters.

Watching E is giving me hope that my diabetes management will only improve. How awful would I be to make her check her b/g and not check mine. The other day she asked to check my b/g for me and had the strip in my meter before I could even answer.  We're each others diabuddies and that makes me happy. Noting to myself that what makes me happy right now is taking care of my diabetes and being a great help in managing hers as well.

I am not sure where life is going to take me, but have to trust that that is the beauty of life. I have to remind myself that is isn't about getting to September, it is about getting through the day and not just getting through the day but truly living within the moments, enjoying the people around me, listening to myself and taking care of myself.

I may not be returning to school in the near future (never say never...) however, I am learning every day and that is awesome!


Monday, June 2, 2014

My Own Voice

I ventured off to the park near my apartment the other day. It was a beautiful day and after I recovered from my horrible night of high blood sugar, I wanted to enjoy what was left of the day.  I packed my bag with an iPod, towel, banana, a book and diabetes supplies and headed there with full intentions on relaxing. Nothing disrupted this plan, I found a perfect spot on the grass, laid down my I love Barbados towel, sunscreen, my iPod l, a banana and a good book, 'Happier at Home' by Gretchen Rubin.

As I was lying there, families having BBQ's around me, people tossing a football back and forth, even a loose balloon flying around me, I felt so good! I felt so relaxed and couldn't help but wonder, 'Why haven't I done this before?!"  I have been in London for six years, and I have been an independent person since what, eighteen. I could have at anytime taken a moment or two to appreciate what is around me, enjoy time and specifically enjoy time alone.

I laid on the towel, book in hand, sun beaming down and took the time to appreciate what I do have and what makes me happy. I don't like complaining about diabetes or the chores of daily life; however, sometimes it is nice to take time for yourself and allow yourself to be alone to reflect on the day rather than gossip about it to friends (which, I must admit feels good too!)  But, being alone provides something different.  I have spent a lot of time alone, as I am living alone, and it has truly given me time to figure out what I want, I can hear my own voice and I am starting to realize how important it is to know yourself and most importantly love yourself. I don't think this can be achieved when you're surrounded by people, clutter, or noise.


Sunday, June 1, 2014


Yesterday after getting home from a long morning, I felt abnormally hungry. My first instinct was that I was high for some reason because I had other symptoms that gave me that impression. However, I was sitting at a 4.1.  I took the opportunity to have an earlier dinner; however that only led to me being hungry around the normal dinner time... so I ate again.   I couldn't help but feel grossly hungry for the rest of the afternoon. I began snacking as the urge was too strong, literally I couldn't resist.   My blood sugar was rising and I took insulin accordingly.

Like I mentioned I was already feeling like I was high at a 4.1, so when I was actually high, I felt awful. My head was pounding and I could barely keep my eyes open.  Now, I live alone, so the thought of something awful happening does cross my mind every now and then.  I try not to panic because I don't want to live a life fearing my diabetes; however, it is important when you live alone to be honest with yourself, if you think you should check, you should. If you think you should sit down, you should. You can't push yourself, especially when you're alone.

I checked and it looked like it was coming down again. I clearly was on a diabetes roller coaster and the feeling of thrill was hanging on strong.  I decided I would change in my pajamas, put on Bridesmaids (my favourite) drink some Fresca (another favourite next to Diet Coke) and relax with my meter by my side. However, it seems that when I changed into my pajamas I clipped my pump back onto my pajamas but didn't connect myself to it.  I have done this before, but usually in change-rooms. I will be walking around the mall and spot my tubing flying back in forth in the air like a swing being pushed.

Clearly I was out of it, as I fell asleep at around 7:30 p.m and didn't wake back up until 12:30 p.m  I didn't even bother throwing on my glasses to guide myself to bed, I must have just stumbled around and fell back asleep. Although, I did notice I picked up a few things off the floor and placed them neatly on the coffee table, clearly OCD in my sleep as well.

I had a long night however, up to go the bathroom, up to get a glass of water, up to revisit the bathroom, back to the kitchen to get more water (all without glasses I might add!) I felt horrible each time I woke up, my mouth was dry, my head was pounding. I checked and I was sitting in the 20s. I grabbed my pump and gave insulin and fell back asleep.

I had a commitment this morning to go to and had set my alarm for 6 a.m. Well 6 a.m came and I woke with the worst headache and stomach ache. I felt literally like I had been drinking the night before, yet all I did was sleep. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to drive feeling as bad as I did.  I messaged my friend (who also has t1) and let her know. She told me to check my site, which is a pretty standard procedure when things go wrong, but in the middle of the night, all you want to do is a normal person.

I felt around my site, sometimes the cannula will come out or bend and insulin will leak. So, I was looking for a wet site or the potent smell of insulin. Nothing, however, this is when I realized something major, that is, that  I wasn't even hooked up!

Clearly, taking on diabetes alone is a lot of work. It seems simple and to me sometimes I forget how complicated it can be. But it isn't impossible to take care of yourself, it just takes some trial and error and we can't be too hard on ourselves, after all we have a pretty big job.