Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Check Ups

Today I woke up feeling like crap.  While at first I thought it was just sleepiness since Cola was up almost every 2 hours for some unknown reason - I soon realized it was more than just sleepiness.   My blood sugar was 18 mmol/L after nearly fasting for 10 hours and I felt sick to my stomach.  While I hate calling in sick to work I knew I had to stay home in order to sort this all out. Plus, when you work with children you don't really want to be passing on any type of sickness (even though they often pass things on to you.)

I began to trace back my steps as to what could have gone wrong but I am totally unsure.  I went to bed with a blood sugar of 7 mmol/L and even bolused for the couple cups of popcorn I had before bed. My tubing isn't kinked, I just changed my site, reservoir and insulin yesterday afternoon and for the most part my blood sugars were pretty awesome yesterday.

After going through the check-list of checks, I am marking this one down as unknown - possibly getting sick.  That's okay, I will sort it all out and hopefully be back within range by lunch time.  But, I did want to stress to myself how important it is to check frequently.  It's easy to get busy within our days and especially in a job where we are looking after others, whether that's a teacher, a nanny, a nurse etc.  We often put ourselves aside and neglect some of the basics of taking care of ourselves.

I need to test more and focus on what my body is telling me.  If my body says it's time to take a break it's time to take a break.  I will often work all day, come home and do chores and not physically sit down or rest until bed time.  My weekends are often packed full of things to do and I simply do not check when I should out of trying to pack everything in and not worry about myself - but that's bad!

I have my meter close by and my goal today is to check as often as I can.  Focus on myself this morning and get back to feeling 100% by this afternoon.  I don't do sick days well - I don't like to sit here and do nothing but I need to remember that it isn't just me that needs myself healthy - it's many others.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

I'm Not Alone

There are days when I get incredibly frustrated that I have diabetes. I will look at my insulin pump and think, "I can't believe this happened to me." While I know wearing an insulin pump is truly not a hassle at all, I mean if my biggest complaint is getting hooked on the occasional door handle, then I think I am O.K.  However, somedays I get sad that this is what has been written in my life story.

I think because I am such a busy person I don't take enough time for self reflection or decompression. I am a go-go person.  I like to be busy and I like to work on projects and help as many people as possible (that being said, I hardly ever say no to lending a hand, whether that's physically or emotionally).  In saying that, I think I lack a full grasp on life events that are life changing, and what they mean. For instance when my uncle passed away I don't feel like I fully processed it, I mean, it's a thought that will always be there, but I don't believe I fully took the time to grieve or cope, instead I tried to be strong for my father & family. What does this have to do with diabetes?  Well, when I was diagnosed with diabetes I instantly thought, 'Okay, I need to be strong, I need to be a role model, I need to do something." I never really allowed myself to get pissed off - for lack of a better word.  I never processed it - which I think sometimes effects the way I look at my diabetes or my uncle's passing.   It hits me hard when I take the time to reflect.

There are times when it 'hits me hard' and I feel as if I have entered a different state of mind.   I think about the consequences of diabetes, and when people say things like, "my uncle lost his leg, or I'm slowly losing my sight" it scares me.  In this state of mind, I picture it all happening to me. I wonder why I was diagnosed with something that has such an awful  track record with those that have it, I think about scary things like, life expectancy, not having a successful pregnancy, going blind, losing limbs, all of those things no one likes to talk about, hear or think about.  It all comes at once.

How I pull myself out of that - makes me think that these thoughts are likely normal and not something to be concerned about.  Everyone has bad days I assume, diabetes or not.  When I find myself alone, thinking about these things I often think about the others living with type 1 diabetes.  I remember that while some of these things are true, the consequences of high blood sugars or lows, all type 1's have those things on their minds or at least they're aware of it.   We (all type 1's) are on a similar ride together, we may not all make the same pit stops or get off at the same time, but that's life.  Together we are on this ride, we have each other to lean on and to keep us going.

I have very close friends with type 1, I have a mini-diabetic best friend, I have amazing support around me physically and online that are type 1 - we are all going through diabetes together and that's what brings me back.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Schedule Changes/Diabetes Changes

As most people with type 1 know, when your schedule changes, your diabetes management has to change. Even minor changes in ones schedule can cause an unexpected low or high throughout the day. While it seems like it would be an easy fix by changing your insulin dosages, it really isn't that easy.

Today I had my dreaded diabetes appointment at the clinic, and to be honest it wasn't as 'dreadful' as I thought. While there is always room for improvement, I think they know I have a level head on my shoulders and know what needs to be change.  I try to be very honest with them when I go to my appointment and I think that pays off instead of trying to make excuses for myself.

I did realize when looking at the printed sheet pump upload they examined, my blood sugars are kind of everywhere.  There really is no pattern to my blood sugars, I may be high one morning but low the next two.  I tried to think of reasons why this may be, as they asked me things like, "What did you eat?" "Did you change your site?"  "Were you sick?" While most of the time I couldn't remember, I did realize that my work schedule has changed quite drastically and that is likely the culprit in my diabetes scramble.

My work schedule is all over the map and I have been eating less and moving more. So, of course any one can assume, I am going low a lot more often.  However, I do spike every now and then which I am still trying to figure out why.  Taking on the new jobs plus working more hours has really affected my diabetes and how I go about managing it. I am still trying to figure out what works best for me and how I can prevent lows and random highs.  This of course is an ongoing battle and I know there isn't going to be a fix-all solution.

The diabetes clinic appointment made me realize that sometimes I need to slow down and look at the big picture.   I sometimes get fixated on the moment, for example, my blood sugar is 6 mmol/L and that's because I took the right amount of insulin for dinner.  I don't look at the day as a whole, where did I go high? when did I go low? How am I feeling? What can I change?    There is a lot going on in a day, a week, a month and in all of that your control of diabetes can easily be affected.

My goal is to put more of a focus into my diabetes management and activity make changes. While it's  important to know the numbers of right now, it's also important to assess your management from a big-picture point of view, and to make those needed changes based on the changes in your life.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Don't Judge

In the diabetes community there is a lot of cheering on, lots of check-ins and advice but there also is a lot of judging that goes on.  This isn't really a surprise since everything on the internet is judged but I don't really want to focus on the internet community as much as I want to focus on the real-time community, that being your friends, family, nurses, doctors and other professionals alike.

I have a diabetes appointment coming up. With that comes some strong anxiety, as it's time to renew for a new insulin pump (woohoo!) That being said, I know that this is likely when they take a hard look at your past years of managing diabetes and make some assumptions, notes and decisions. This is the first time I have had to renew my pump, since I have only been pumping for five years - so I really do not know what to expect. I do expect judging.

While I realize likely 90% of the time when people talk about MY diabetes, they aren't trying to harass, judge or shame me, but at the same time why does it always feel that way? I mean, it's hard enough when I woke up this morning with a blood sugar of TWENTY-FOUR and thought to myself




Knowing that that number is going to make an appearance on the printed sheets of my pump upload next week terrifies me.  I know I didn't attend a midnight buffet, but I do know that I may have underestimated the carbs in my before-bed snack and I also know I changed a site before bed which is on the top 10 bad things to do when you're on a pump (if there was such a list).

Am I failure at diabetes? Maybe this morning. Those that claim to master diabetes are either hiding some secret solutions or are lying.  I vote the latter.   Managing diabetes is a lot of work. It's frustrating and it doesn't always make sense.  No pizza, no stressor, no menstrual cycle, no workout is created equal and in saying that managing diabetes with all the unequalness of the world isn't a small feat.

That being said, in my dream diabetes world, there wouldn't be anxiety over doctors trips, and there wouldn't be judging.  I want to hear more of;

"So you had a bad day, let's try again tomorrow."

"It's not your fault, we will figure it out together."

"Diabetes is whack." 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

To the D-Parents

Okay, wow, a whole summer has basically passed and I didn't write a THING! I mean, I have been writing things, but nothing on this blog.  I feel as though this blog sort of fell to the wayside and I do want to attempt to bring it back and bring myself to write at least a couple times a week again.

So here we go, what made me think about my own personal blog was a new diabetes thought I had today.  You see, I have now had diabetes for six years and while there are a ton of bloggers out there that write on the subject of diabetes, I somewhat felt like I was running out of original thoughts.  While I am constantly talking/doing diabetes, the thoughts and ideas aren't always new... in fact diabetes is so repetitive I cannot believe I have built this much content. But, the truth of the matter is there are always new moments of learning and exploring with diabetes; therefore, the subjects truly are unlimited.

The thought came after spending the night with one of the little girls that I nanny. She also has type 1 diabetes as I have mentioned before.    Now, I spend roughly nine hours a day with her, so looking after her and her diabetes (and mine) has never really been an issue.  While sometimes I feel incredibly sad for her, such as if I have to put a site on her, most of the time, we try to be both upbeat about our diabetes and I don't see her any different that any other child.

When she came over for a sleepover, I knew what I was getting into. She has slept over before, so I am fully aware of alarms, juice-boxes and a bright and a cheery 7 a.m wake up call, "WAKEY, WAKEY" as she says.   But, what I  didn't realize was how exhausting it is to care for both a type 1 child and my type 1 self at the same time - at night. You see, diabetes doesn't really care what time it is.  In fact, I actually think diabetes knows when it's a bad time and that's when it makes sure it rears it's foot at your butt.  

Last night I went low once, and she went low three times. THREE TIMES.  So, no big deal, wake up from the buzzing noise of the Dexcom, grab a juice-box I lined up on the bed side, and she literally does not wake up, but she will sip that juice-box empty, eyes closed, like a champ.   We did this three times, plus, my solo low treatment that unfortunately I cannot remain asleep for.   Looking at her sweet face sipping away at the juice box (three times) made me sad.  It made me realize that millions of children out there will never know what it's like to have to drink three boxes of juice a night, or get pricked at midnight, miss gym class, receive a needle 4+ times a day in the belly...and while that's good that they will never know, I wish she didn't have to know.

Needless to say, with waking up four times from lows, and two times to go the bathroom (#diabeticproblems) I was exhausted in the morning and so was she (despite her WAKEY WAKEY good morning sentiment)  I wanted to tell her mom that she deserved an award.   How in the world does she do it every night?  Yes, I am a type 1 myself and I probably never get a good sleep, but I think it's so different.   Not saying one is worse than the other, they're both hard. But, having to worry about your child 24/7, knowing that there are going to be issues, having to watch their sweet little faces sip mindlessly on juiceboxes at 4 a.m. HOW!

While I have always felt so strongly about how awesome parents of type 1's are...I am going to say, I gained the upmost respect for them as well. So, type 1 parents pat yourself on the back, grab a large cup of coffee, treat yourself to a day at the spa while the kids are back to school, you all deserve it!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Making Changes

I was tired. I was tired and bored.  I had spent countless hours swiping down on my iPhone peeking into the lives of others and feeling awful about my own. But why? I have a beautifully decorated apartment of my own, I have the cutest little shihtzu, an amazing boyfriend who wants to travel the world with me and I have a job that helps me pay the bills. I have many more things that I am thankful for, yet here I am scrolling through feeling awful. Pulling at the fat on my stomach, crying about how I wish my hair looked a certain way and getting angry with myself for missing my workout.  

What I began to realize was that the habits I had gotten into were eating me alive. Seriously, attacking myself.  I was wishing to be like other people, yet wanting to be myself and what I needed to realize was that instagram isn't real life.   People don't take a picture of their crappy days and if they do, they filter it in a way to make it look beautiful. And it's not just instagram that was turning me into a psycho but, a lot of other habits.

I decided for the sanity of both M and myself, I was going to make some changes and make them quick.

So here they are,

For the month of June because committing to forever is asking to fail. Also, it may seem like a lot of changes at once, however, I climbed Kilimanjaro, I think I can handle a few tasks (at least that's what I tell myself)

Limit Phone Use: I will seriously be on Facebook on my phone and on my laptop at the same time. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?   I don't want to be holding my phone all the time. I don't want it near me all the time.   I forgot to bring my phone with me this morning and although I missed the music I have on it when I was at the gym, I loved not having it.   So, while I know it's not safe to not have a phone on me, I am going to attempt to neglect my phone unless it rings, I need to take a picture, or I get a text, if I want to go on Facebook/Instagram, I have to get my laptop.

Limit Social Media:  This is difficult because I use social media both in a personal and business way. However, I don't need to spend half my day looking on instagram or facebook.  I want to stop checking it when I wake up.  Why do I care what so-and-so uploaded last night?

Check Blood Sugar Way More: I admit, I fall in and out of diabetes care.  I neglect my diabetes when I feel like I have no control over it, which for anyone with diabetes, it's easy to feel that way. However, this is common sense, but we often forget, if we check more, we do better.  Knowing what our blood sugar actually is, is better than any guesstimate. I want to be checking every time I eat.  I told M that if he sees me eating, and I haven't checked, he needs to tell me to check.

Drink Way More Water: Somedays I don't drink any water. WHAT? I know.  So, I am trying to make an effort to drink more water. I am not setting a number out there, but just the idea of drinking more water.  When I am thirsty I am going to drink water, when I am hungry, I am going to drink water, when I am bored, I am going to drink water.  Water.

Only Drink Diet Coke When I Am Out: This one is sad. Considering I named my dog after the popular soft drink, Coca-Cola, giving up some diet coke, isn't easy.  So, the goal is to not buy diet coke...which is also hard because the vending machine in my building has diet coke. But, regardless, the only time I should be sipping diet coke is when I am out.

Eat Mainly Unboxed Foods: Fruits and veggies, anything that isn't in those middle aisles.  I recently started reading the Undiet and I just ordered a copy of my own so I can finish it. I read up to Chapter 4 and I am totally inspired, but have a ton to learn about the food we eat. I honestly, love eating and love bad food - I cannot lie.  However, I also like good food, but rarely choose it. So, the plan is to have only good food lurking around, so I don't sabotage myself. They just build a Farm Boy down the road and I plan to use that as my go-to to buy fresh food for the week.

Don't Waste: I am so bad for this. So BAD! I always fall for the 2 for $6.00 or 5 for $10.00 tricks that supermarkets do.  I don't need 5 bags so why am I buying 5? I actually am the worst for buying things in twos, I do this with clothing as well.  I don't know why?  But I waste a lot of food and money and I am tired of throwing out 20 yogurts at a time.  So, I plan to plan for the week and not overbuy.

Use Affirmations: Somedays, I feel gorgeous, other days I feel like a hot mess.  M is constantly reassuring me how beautiful I am and I fail to see what he sees.  However, I plan to write out some great affirmations on sticky notes and stick them to my mirror. My only concern upon doing this, is that I will get stressed about the way it looks, so I may have to think of another alternative (I am a very particular person, can you tell?)

When In Doubt Go Out: Right now, I spend a lot of time at home because I do not work during the day (this will change come next month) I get pretty bored and usually watch Dr.Phil for hours (that is why Cola's obsessed with Dr. Phil)   However, every time I take Cola down to go the bathroom, I feel better. Fresh air and an escape from the apartment is what I usually need to kick start a better and more clear mind.  So, when I feel bored or stressed I am going to go out, step outside (even if it's on my patio) and clear my mind. I want to visit more libraries and starbucks patios to work on projects I have in mind, and spend less time watching the distress people are having on a talk show.

Focus On One Day at a Time: I am a planner.  My wedding is pretty much planned and I am not engaged.  I am constantly looking at trips online for the future and I stress about things that are months away.  But, I really want to start looking at each day as its own and focus on what I can do to make that day great and not worry about tomorrow, or next Thursday or next winter.  Focus on myself and how I feel today.

So that's that! I am going to really be focusing on these, and if you want to partake in any, feel free!

I am excited to see how things can readjust and focus and maybe these are all actions I can maintain for longer than 31 days!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Just Ask!

The other day I went out for brunch and to skip all the intimate details, I will go straight to the point.  I had gotten french toast, because I hardly ever treat myself and when I asked for sugar-free syrup and the told me that they didn't have any - I didn't fret, I just knew I would bolus for the regular syrup.   After all I am eating french toast...why not add a few more units of insulin to the mix.  One of the people at my table then told me that I shouldn't be eating what I was eating because I have diabetes. While, I smiled politely and explained that I have insulin (crazy right?) and the insulin will cover the food that I am eating; therefore, within reason I can eat whatever I want... similar to ANY OTHER HUMAN.  The rest of the conversation went pretty much downhill because this person knew more about diabetes than I did and isn't that frustrating!

I know this happens on a daily basis to everyone living with any form of diabetes. I don't really let it bother me, although I am sure this is coming off as it is.  I just am more so baffled that there are so many diabetes experts out there that don't bother to get their MD, like come on! If you're an expert, then surely you should be a doctor and a researcher and an author, and please while you're at it, find the cure!

In a way I want to blanket statement it, I AM HUMAN, I DO HUMAN THINGS.  Like the whole Jenner interview and the conversations that come with that, we are all human and while some of us have limitations or prefer something that isn't the 'norm' then who cares? why do we assume things for others? Why can't I just know, yes maple syrup has lots of sugar, but don't worry I have insulin.   It doesn't matter what others are doing unless it's affecting you directly.

The biggest lesson of this is to just ask. If you're curious, just ask.  Don't assume that someone can or can't do something. Don't assume that someone is okay or someone is unhappy. Don't assume that the person needs help or doesn't need help.  It's so easy to ask questions, "How do you count carbs?" "What is an insulin pump?"  "What does high or low blood sugar mean?"   JUST ASK!

And to answer some of the questions I have gotten in my diabetes lifetime here we go:

"Can you eat that?" Yes, I can eat anything that you can eat. I just have to work my pancreas manually, while yours is automatic.

"What do you feel like when you have low blood sugar?" Everyone can feel different and sometimes it varies for me as well. But usually, I feel shaky, hungry, faint, and I sweat a lot.

"Do you take insulin when you're low or high?" I take insulin 24/7 but that is complicated to explain without hand gestures.  However, when I eat or my blood sugar is high, I take insulin. When my blood sugar is low I eat something.

"Were you born with diabetes?" Not that I know of? I wasn't diagnosed until I was eighteen, but I am type 1. I know, I know the 'juvenile diabetes' wording is confusing.

"Do you wear the pump all the time?"  Yes!  Except when I am showering or swimming, or if I take it off to change and forget it on my bed, go to Walmart, do some shopping then realize I forgot it.   But yes, all the time.

"Do you have the bad kind of diabetes?"Okay, this is one of those questions that I believe comes from the heart, but when it exits the mouth it becomes a hot mess.   I have been asked this countless times, and that's okay, at least it's a question and not a statement.  I don't know what kind of diabetes is bad, all of them? I have all kinds of diabetes.

"Have you had a low blood sugar or high blood sugar before?" Nope, never, I'm perfect. KIDDING. Oh my, when I get this question, I can't help but laugh.  Some people will call it an episode, or go real deep and ask if you've ever been in a coma.   I think those who only know of people with type 2 diabetes, or they are of the older, super old generation, they think high blood sugar is insane, like anything over 12.   So, when you say things like, "my blood sugar was 20!" which is ridiculous but, as a type 1, not insane, old people freak out. (Like my Grandma...)

"Did you get surgery for the pump?" One time I was at the dentist, mouth open with tools plucking at my teeth and the dentist was talking about MY diabetes to the dental assistant.  She said that, "Kayla got surgery for her insulin pump." While I couldn't defend myself, re: mouth. I had to give the death stare through those sweet sunglasses they put on you.

While I know there are many other questions, and like I said, I don't mind. So ask away!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Fret

A lot of people ask me what I want to do and while I am twenty-five and thought by now I would have an answer I am still very vague when it comes to answering that specific question.  I feel as though I've got lucky along the way, getting jobs that I enjoyed and helped me network my way into others.  I did my short time in the fast food industry, I worked at a 24/7 Christmas store and I spent almost three summers changing diapers and singing The Wheels on the Bus at a daycare centre. Now, after finishing university I am working as a nanny for two families.  While nannying isn't my dream career; although I do have a lot of fun with it... I keep asking myself, "Why do I need to pick one thing to be?"

I think we put a lot of pressure on our youth.  Since kindergarten we get asked the same question, "What do you want to be when you're older?" While most of us answered things like the tooth fairy, a mommy or a teacher. Often we changed our minds along the years, so regardless our answers were 'of the moment' not a lifetime. Plus, it's not like because you say you want to be a tooth fairy in kindergarten they're going to start gearing your education towards the tooth industry - just doesn't happen.

So it's incredibly frustrating when I talk to young teens who are struggling with deciding what they want to do. The pressure of what college or university to attend or whether or not to work or take a year off to travel.   Of course the choice to do any of these things doesn't always depend on your 'choice' other things like finances and grades have a say as well, but I think as the 'older generation' including parents alike, should really demonstrate that making that ultimate choice isn't something to stress your heart about.

For me, I took a year off, I spent half the year doing a grade 12 math course; in which I barely passed, therefore it was quite useless to me. For the rest of the year I began working at the daycare, you know the changing diapers, wheels on the bus job.  During that time I decided I would go to college. How did I decide? I was at my grade 12 graduation sitting beside someone who I never had met nor seen before. He told me what college and program he was going into, I checked it out briefly (google) and applied.    I know it sounds like a simple choice and truly it was.  I knew I wanted to go to school, but I didn't fret over what I was going to be, because frankly I knew that I was always just going to be me, and the other things that I gained along the way would become apart of me, not the whole me.

My mindset was completely, 'Let's see where this goes!" and frankly, that's still my attitude.

After finishing the year of college, I decided to do another year. Why? Two reasons, doing one year meant a certificate, doing two years meant a diploma, one sounds better than the other.  Second reason, I could apply to go to Australia for school. Because? Australia.  While I was accepted to Australia I decided not to go, mainly because of two things, money and the 'beautiful by the ocean school,' was actually 'hidden in the woods, middle of nowhere school'  and I am deathly afraid of snakes, if that sentence makes sense.

After that I needed to continue to do something. While I wasn't set on becoming anything in particular, I knew that I wanted to keep moving in a forward direction. So moving back home and going back to diapers (for the children/not myself) wasn't what I wanted to do.  I applied to three universities and was accepted to all three. But I secretly wanted to go to the University that was in the same city as my College.  So I was pleased to be accepted and accepted their offer!

In the three years I changed my major twice.  Why?  Because I realized I had to take math for my first selected major and I wasn't willing to do snakes, I am also deathly afraid of math.   So, I began my English major; which I often admit to people with my head down, as if I am telling them I can't sleep with the lights off.  I truly, choose English because I am good at writing and I enjoy reading, although since we're telling the truth, I hardly read any of my course material, but hey, I have a diploma on my wall....

Now, after graduating from both college and university, six years later, here I am.  No, I am not a doctor or a nurse, a teacher or a engineer, I don't really have a title but the ones that I give myself.  While, I can imagine how nice it would be to be lined right into a career, not having to worry about paying for insulin out of pocket... at the same time I can safely say I am doing okay and I am okay.  I managed to not fret about the big "WHAT AM I GOING TO BE?!" and just focus on being.  That's what it is least for me.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

Lately I have been on a 'health kick' - I am trying my hardest to make it a lifestyle because we all know diets end, kicks quit and life happens.  I want to be a healthy person and in saying that I don't want to feel the weight of bad eating habits, on my body or my mind.  I like the feeling of finishing an hour at the gym, the feeling of fitting into a size six or the feeling of empowerment when someone tells me that, "I look good"  - these are things I like, so why do we sometimes quit feeling good?

I think the issue is that for people (like myself) who do enjoy bad food, and enjoy lounging, switching to a lifestyle of kale shakes and chin ups isn't an easy switch. It takes effort even if we feel awesome after doing such things. I have been living this lifestyle since February 2015, so I am in it for about 3 months... I have lost 10 pounds thus far, went from size 9 to size 6, and I have had much more energy (although some days, not so much).    The other challenge for me is putting as much effort into my diabetes - it doesn't always happen.

For me, making this switch is about making it public. I have to find a way to be accountable and for me that is through instagram and myfitnesspal.  Posting my triumphs, posting my food and keeping track of what I am doing/eating.  Some make fun of those that post gym photos or photos of their dinners; however no one is forcing those photos on others, so I don't see any issues.

Sometimes I think to myself how hard of a battle it is, I think, "Oh if I just lost 10 more pounds..." but when I think about how far I have come, I have to remind myself that I am okay the way that I am today.   

What keeps me motivated isn't just the number going down on the scale or my pants fitting looser, it is the idea that I could inspire others, especially others with diabetes. I wasn't completely overweight to begin with, but I wanted to make a change. With the many obstacles that type 1 diabetes brings an individual, it's easy to use it as an excuse to quit. However, if there is anything I can promote more, is the infamous quote by Dori, "Just Keep Swimming."  It's so important to keep going in any pace or motion.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

This isn't 1910

As some people know I work with teens on a weekly basis that live with type 1 diabetes.  A group that I created last July to give back to the diabetes community.  While, the group is small in size, it's large in discussion and passion.  We have spent a great deal of time learning about one another as well as helping one another.

Recently one of the teens brought to my attention an act of discrimination.  After practicing for months for a school play, she has been 'let go' due to her diabetes. Stating that her diabetes (going low) is an issue. I was instantly baffled and wondered a few things, how can a school discriminate in such an obvious manner and since when is diabetes a reason not to do something?

I instantly thought of the numerous diabetics that I know that have accomplished a ton of amazing things while living with diabetes.  I know olympic athletes, dancers, backpackers and actors and not to mention, myself and many others who have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. To say that a diabetic cannot participate in a school play is not only ignorant but ridiculous!  What it says to me is that those that made the choice to terminate her position in the play have taken little to no time to understand her diabetes because if they had, I am sure they would reconsider.

This isn't 1910.  We aren't suffering from our diabetes, we are thriving.  Yes, we go low and yes we go high, but that doesn't mean that we are incapable of managing our diabetes. And what happened to helping out one another, if I happened to go low at a party, I would expect a friend to help. But that doesn't mean I am dependent. If you collapsed of heat exhaustion, I would help you out, I wouldn't tell you that you're too much to handle.

This isn't right. Students living with type 1 diabetes shouldn't be criticized, punished nor ignored because of their diabetes. Clearly someone needs to google type 1 diabetics to see just how successful, talented, and independent we are.

Get with the times!


Friday, February 27, 2015

It Is What it Is

Up & out the door early for Dermatologist appointment
So for anyone that knows me, you know that I have hives pretty much every single day and along with that the occasional swelling of half of my lip, my eyes, one finger...etc. I had hives growing up and my mom would try to figure out what it was by taking away certain foods.  I think we first believed it was anything that was red including spaghetti sauce and then we thought it was bananas. Eventually, I started eating those things again and realized it wasn't the trigger.  I haven't had hives every single day of my life, but they do play a pretty prominent role in my health story.

Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had hives for a full year. Basically all of grade twelve I had hives. They were everywhere except for my face. I can remember sometimes they were so itchy it was almost unbearable. I would have to put lots of cream all over my body to prevent myself from itching and at one point I remember the skin being so raw it was disgusting. I hated it. I wore capris when it was warm because the hives on my legs looked awful.   When it went away, I was then getting symptoms of diabetes (I didn't know they were symptoms of diabetes at the time....) I began losing a lot of weight around September 2008 and eventually in March of 2009 I was diagnosed with diabetes and had about every symptom in the book.   No one knows the immediate need to pee unless you've had super high blood sugars - it's awful.

Anyways, I didn't have hives for a couple years and if so, they weren't super memorable.  I got hives in December 2012 because I found out I was allergic to penicillin.  But that doesn't count.   It wasn't until March of last year that I started to get the hives again - full time. The hives were back and not only were hives back but so was my random swelling, something else that I had back in grade 12.

Now, when I had hives before, I was sent to every specialist you can imagine and they mentioned endless amounts of 'diagnosis' ideas, ranging from Rheumatoid Arthritis to Lupus.  So, this time, about a year ago I knew that once I told a medical doctor about my hives I was going to be given the same run around.  Successfully I can say I was right because it's literally been about a year and I still have hives and I have seen another set of specialists including now a haematologist and a dermatologist. They all have different ideas, send me for blood work and come back to tell me I have hives - literarily they say you have urticaria which is a fancy word for 'you have hives.'

I am O.K with this.  I am okay if I just have chronic hives. It's super annoying but after having to go to the haematologist appointment (that scared the crap out of me!) I will make friends with my urticaria. I am lucky because usually my allergy medicine works and I can sense when I am going to get hives or start to swell - I can feel it before it happens.  I also know what triggers hives for me including working out (sometimes) white wine (super sad about that...) and stress (not always).   Even though it's a super vague diagnosis, and after going to a 7:20 a.m appointment (I know right?) only to be told I have hives and then was given a prescription for Reactin (which I already have...) I am going to today just stop worrying about 'what it is' because it just is what it is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You Pick.

Fifty-two days ago I started a weight loss challenge with M. We decided that before our cruise we were going to lose some weight.  He had to lose fifteen pounds and I had to lose ten.  We both have surpassed our goal and have a week left of the challenge. I see it all the time on social media that people with diabetes have a hard time losing weight. I think the biggest concern is stabilizing your blood sugar to try and avoid the sugar spikes.
For me, I wasn't going to focus too much on diabetes. Obviously I was going to take care of my diabetes and take insulin when needed but I wasn't going to make this weight loss about diabetes.  Why?  For me, thinking about losing weight takes a lot of my focus.  I love food. I love bad food mostly.  So, knowing that I was going to have to cut back on the junk/excessive eating was going to take a lot of brain power.  Like I mentioned in earlier blogs, diabetes also takes a lot of brain power even when you don't realize.   So, to add the pressure of trying to have perfect blood sugars was out of the question for the next two months. I was going to try my best, check my blood sugar at least four times a day, take insulin when I ate and treat lows.  It also helped that I have been eating the same foods for the past two months so carb counting has been pretty easy.

I wasn't going to let diabetes be an excuse for not losing weight. It is easy to blame diabetes. "It can't  lose weight because I have diabetes." Well, it may be a challenge but it isn't impossible. In fifty-two days I have lost eleven pounds. Did I work hard? YES! SO HARD! I worked hard but not once did I give up because of my diabetes.  I believe that any challenge is usually encouraged or discouraged by our own minds.

We have the power to accomplish anything - trust me, I climbed the tallest mountain in Africa with zero experience.  When our mind tells us that we cannot do something, we believe it. Likewise, when our mind tells us that we can, we try our hardest to fulfil that belief.  We can be our own worst enemies or our own best friends in any situation whether that is in weight loss, or diabetes.  You pick. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Manage Diabetes When You're Trying to Manage Everything Else

I do everything. I don't sit still. I have lists of things I want to do on paper, on my phone and in my head. I am constantly adding things that aren't necessarily needed to be done, but I would like to accomplish anyway. I sign up for everything, I say yes to everyone. I get overwhelmed when I have too much on my plate but I also get upset when I have too little.  Does this sound like you? Or am I alone on this?

All of this doesn't include managing my diabetes.  I do diabetes on top of all of this.  Not only am I thinking what can I create next? I am also having to count carbs, inject insulin and feel the consequences of my blood sugar (because unless you're superwoman and you're sitting at a nice 5.5 mmol/L all day - I know you're feeling something that isn't 'normal') 

Managing diabetes is HARD! It's so hard. It's not just the blood sugar checks and the insulin - it is everything. So many times I have heard, "checking your blood sugar takes seconds - why is it so hard?" WHY!? Because when I see my friends and family members, they're not having to check their blood sugar, they're not having to inject insulin or sit in front of their food guesstimating the carbs of the casserole - while dealing with diabetes come somewhat natural after a certain length of time - I don't think it ever truly is.  We don't naturally want to do it. Just like it takes some 'umph' to go for a 30 minute workout - it takes some 'umph' to take care of diabetes.

But it isn't just about the diabetes remember. It's that we are busy bees. We are not only living the lives of those who don't have an autoimmune disease, we are also living the lives of a person with an autoimmune disease (if that makes sense...)  Diabetics are normal people who live normal lives. We go to to work, we go to the gym, we join clubs, we attend events, we make dinners, we shop, we attend social gatherings, and we go out to parties.  We are totally normal, we look normal, we act normal, and we are in no way limited by our diabetes. But, we have diabetes. So, while we are doing all those 'normal' things we are also thinking about carbs, about how our body feels, about where to put our insulin pump, about the annoying feeling the pump gives us when it's rubbing against our body. We are thinking about how nice it would feel to eat whatever without consequences. We are counting the carbs, we are measuring the insulin, we are pricking our fingers, we are worrying about if we have packed enough supplies. We are counting our money, checking our balance, figuring out insurance, we are buying supplies that are more expensive than our entire wardrobe. We are second guessing if we took our insulin or not. We are debating on telling people we have diabetes. We are tired but we are managing our diabetes. 

I think like my last post it isn't about being the 'best diabetic in the room' it isn't a competition. It is truly about doing the best you can.   We all manage things in different ways. For example, some of us find working out a great stress reliever, while others find having a nap the best way to relieve stress. Just like diabetes, we find a way to manage is that works for our schedule, our lifestyle and our benefit. People like to judge people for how they choose to manage. But, we have to remember that we all have different things on the go. While I am a busy bee, some not so much - so the way a busy bee manages her diabetes could be completely different from someone who has little on the go.  It isn't about being a good diabetic or not, and it isn't about who manages their diabetes better. There are so many factors involved it's insane to think there is a right and wrong way to go about an autoimmune disease.  

Yes, it takes literally seconds to test your blood sugar - but think about everything else that goes on in those seconds. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

You're Doing Your Best (without driving yourself crazy)

It's -17 but feels like -27 with the windchill. While we can all clearly see on our calendars that we are more than half way through February however, it seems that winter is still going on strong and spring seems like it's a distant dream.  I have read a few things about the 'winter blues' that people get when the weather is cold and we get less daylight to enjoy (not that we can really enjoy it because it's FREEZING).  While, I must admit I feel the winter blues, I can imagine it is worse for some more than others.  I still get up every morning and get myself to work and the gym and run my errands.  While, I feel like spring is going to take its sweet time, I have a vacation to look forward to in the near future.

Today I was feeling pretty good about the success I have had with my healthy food choices & workouts.  I have really stuck to it, despite having moments where I wanted to cave, mind you I work with children who have access to candy.   I have been doing really well, keeping track of my food intake in a journal as well.   While it's been hard work and to be honest managing diabetes along side all of this has been difficult. I have been better at working out/eating healthy than keeping up on my diabetes.  I am checking and all that is required but I have made little effort into switching around basals etc. in order to get the most out of my pump - however, all in time everything will come together.  I am doing the best (without driving myself crazy) I can at the moment.

But, I think this is a lot of people's norms. Doing their best without driving themselves crazy.  Diabetes is one of those diseases that can give you OCD (I made that up, but I think it's true) You could literally spend your entire day focused on your diabetes and still not figure out what's wrong with your blood sugar.  It seems like a really easy process. Eat, take insulin, exercise, eat something to maintain blood sugar, blood sugar goes high, take insulin.  But, in reality and every diabetic knows, that a diabetic's Tuesday is never the same as a diabetic's Wednesday.  Everyday is different.

I think at this moment, on this cold (maybe warm depending where you are p.s if so, can I come over?) day, take a moment to tell yourself that you're doing the best you can without driving yourself crazy. You're working hard being a pancreas - a job you never asked for. If you're a caregiver, give yourself a huge hug and know that you're doing the best you can without driving yourself crazy.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Be Grateful

It can be hard to understand why we were given a disease.  I think everyone who has ever suffered for anything begs the question, "WHY ME!" Recently T1Empowerment (a group I started) had a speaker, Karli-Ann come to an event I hosted and she talked about the why me question.  Karli has Cerebral Palsy. I have been thinking about it lately, why was I given type 1 diabetes?  I watched as my sister drank a regular iced tea, thinking to myself why did diabetes choose my body and not hers? Not that I wish diabetes on any of my family members, but one must admit they question why they are the 'chosen ones' from time to time.

The more I thought about this the more my mind started to wonder why I never ask myself, "WHY DO I HAVE A WARM HOUSE TO GO TO EVERY NIGHT!"  and "WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE FOOD IN MY FRIDGE?" We don't ask ourselves these things because it is so easy to take them for granted.  We have a standard of what we expect.  While some people grew up vacationing in adulthood, we just expect we will continue to vacation (like myself) but there are people who didn't grow up going on vacations, so something like a trip to Niagara Falls is considered a vacation - and there is nothing wrong with that. We all expect things in life, we expect that we will have a certain amount of food available, for some people it's a larger number of items than others. We expect that we will have some sort of job, whether that is something minimum wage level or higher.

When the bad things role in like an unexpected health concern or a loss of job we start to blame. We blame 'God' or whoever we believe in or blame.  We wonder how could this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this (insert here).  When in reality, the bump in the road, is merely a bump in the road compared to all the things we have been 'blessed' with.  The problem is it usually something unexpected and unusual. Something that is deemed a pain or obstacle, while we feel as though we don't deserve it - as time goes on we realize the importance the road block was. Maybe it made you stronger, maybe it introduced you to a community that supports you, or maybe it made you realize how lucky you have been to have a roof over your head and food on the table all along.

Whatever the case is, I think that asking why we were diagnosed with diabetes isn't a bad question to ask, we have to then also take the time to focus on why we have been so lucky to have other things in our lives.  We must be grateful.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Self Love

Growing up we are told to love our bodies. We are told that each body is different and that there is nothing wrong with us.  This coming from the people that love us, otherwise we hear a different message from the media like, 'thin is beautiful' 'nothing tastes better than skinny feels...'  But, I want to focus on the goal which is to teach our children to love themselves for all that they are, not just their bodies but their minds and spirits.

I think we all have had moments in our lives or continuous moments where we battled with trying to love ourselves - our whole selves.  I've noticed that people have a hard time picking positives about themselves, but when it comes to negatives it's easy.  I think back to the Mean Girls scene where the girls are listing things they don't like about their bodies - some outrageous like, 'nail beds sucking...' (See the clip for yourself here:  Overall, we are our own worst critic.

When it comes down to loving myself, I try hard to focus on the positives that I bring to the table. I try to evaluate myself in a forgiving light. It can hard because with all social media accounts we tend to compare our lives to the lives shown online - which we know aren't always the 'real lives of real people.' Regardless, self love is important. But when it comes to loving your diagnosis - how does that work? Can we love diabetes without being weird about it? After all isn't diabetes a HUGE part of who we are, if not, can we think of it as something that is a part of us.

What made me think of this was hearing that one of the families I know allows their child to say their diabetes is stupid. Diabetes is stupid. I wholeheartedly agree. Diabetes is a constant annoyance in the lives of children, teens, adults and parents alike.  However, half of me wants to say that while diabetes is stupid, I am going to potentially have diabetes for the rest of my life. It is always going to be there. An insulin pump attached at my hip, vials of insulin stored in my fridge, test strips strewn throughout my house, car and purse and physically scars on my belly, back and fingertips, mood swings from happy to sad and feeling like absolute garbage every now and then.  While I want to hate diabetes, I don't know if it is something I can give myself permission to do.  If I said I hated the way my nose was (giving that I wasn't going to spend the money to fix it) I would be having to everyday look at my nose with hate or disgust.  Looking in the mirror thinking, why was I given this nose? it looks so stupid, instead of saying, "My nose is unique" and it "gives me character" or "it could be worse!"

I guess it's all in the matter of perspective. While deep down inside we curse our curves or our nose.  We think our hair is too thin or our laugh is too obnoxious.  We have to remember that from the beginning we were told to love ourselves - for everything we were.  If diabetes is going to stick around for the long run then I guess I have to love it too.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Action Plan

NYC December 2014
As I get older I have realized how fast time goes. I remember hearing adults say it all the time as a kid, but never really comprehended it.   Now, looking back, I think it is safe to say that twenty-four hours isn't a lot of hours and thirty days goes by fast.   I try really hard not to wish days away. I think it's different to look forward to a date such as the day my vacation begins or the day the weather gets warmer in Ontario. But, overall, I try to appreciate each day that I am given because we truly won't get that day back.

I have found that my 'fit challenge' that I have been participating in has been a great way to love every single day a bit more.  Reason being, is that I always wake up ready for the challenge. I want to do well and I want to succeed.  I love writing in my food journal (I can't believe I have actually been writing in it for forty days, and hope to continue after I get back from my vacation.  I love going to the gym (who am I?!) and I enjoy watching the process of becoming more fit.

The biggest thing I am learning day to day is that we have to pick things in life we love to do.  We can't waste time doing something we dread. Somethings yes, we have to do despite not liking it, i.e paying bills, going to appointments or making beds...(I hate making beds).  But, there are big things in life that some of us do because we think we are supposed to do them or we think it's the right thing to do, when in reality we don't have to push ourselves into any box that we don't feel comfortable being in. For example, a lot of people get married and have kids right away, because they feel that that is the next step, but who says we have to get married? Who says we have to have kids right away or at all? Don't let anyone determine your life path but yourself.

M and I recently made a list of things that we want to do, more specifically places that we want to see.  While we are both climbing up in our late twenties (more so him than me...) we have things that we want to accomplish.  We have goals that we want to meet. I think this is so important for overall happiness. To honestly make the most out of each day and not create a list of things you want to do, but actually do them. M is a good match for me because he has the same mentality as me, when I wanted to go to NYC at Christmas because it was on my 'bucket list' he was down to join me.  Likewise, I am willing to help him get the most our of his days.

Time goes by fast and we have to recognize that the more we spend thinking about what we want to do instead of actually doing it - the less time we have to do it. So, on this day of love, start an action plan, what do you want to do? and when will your start to do it?


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Because I have diabetes....

I rarely worried about diabetes as being something that was going to 'kill me'  I never thought of diabetes as serious.  I don't mean that in an ignorant way. I think it was my way of coping with diabetes.  Thinking of it as something I just have to take care of and everything will be fine. While, yes taking care of your diabetes does result in good health - there are aspects of diabetes that we cannot control, days where our blood sugar sky rockets without warning, or days that a dark cloud seems to hang over our head and we don't manage to our best ability.

When my uncle passed away in the late summer, I looked at my diabetes differently. He also was a type 1 diabetic.  It wasn't diabetes, but he was the one type 1 in my family that I felt I was connected to. Not in a way that we talked about diabetes together (because we didn't) but just knowing that I had someone blood related in my life with type 1, that was travelling and working, and enjoying life gave me something to hold onto.  I had learned that my dad also had a cousin that passed away who was type 1 diabetic.  Realizing both of my blood relatives with type 1 had passed away, I felt this strange sense that I was the lone survivor and that I was next.

It sounds awful, and the thought has been lingering in my head since.  Something that I struggle with on days that I give myself too much time to let my mind wander.  It makes me anxious knowing that diabetes is way more serious than I ever let it be.  That this disease isn't worse nor better than any other disease. This is real life and it isn't easy.

I had an eye appointment a couple weeks ago and all I could think about was if he was going to tell me bad news.  Because I have diabetes he's going to tell me something is wrong with my eyes. Because I have diabetes .... I hate that I even have to think that with every single appointment I go to. Every time I have hives, every time I get stressed, every time I feel sick, every time.

I don't want to cast negative thoughts on myself because of my diagnosis.  I have proven to myself and others that living with diabetes isn't a limitation. But I would be lying if I didn't say there are times when I am terrified that I have diabetes.  I want to live my life the fullest and I have realized the we don't know how 'full' our life is going to be and we can't sit around and wait for the bad to kick in. We have to go one day at a time, and truly do whatever we have been meaning to do. Don't wait. Don't worry and don't let those thoughts take over.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Quote

When asked my favourite quote, I always give this one, "Everything Happens for a Reason." While I know this quote is smothered on mugs and notebooks alike, I truly don't think it's a quote that can be taken lightly or regarded as some quote people quote when they can't think of a quote...quote.

I was diagnosed March 2009, between finishing high-school and starting college... I had just finished a math course that I decided to take (6 years later and I still haven't found a use for it...) regardless, if there ever was a good time to be diagnosed this was the time. I was working as a daycare teacher-assistant, living at home and graduated.

I often think back to myself, age eighteen, clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life. I had a boyfriend that lived about 20 km away whom I always drove to see.  My life was pretty average, I had a couple close friends and some that would come by every now and then.  I was enjoying my new figure (about thirty pounds lighter than three months previous) hindsight 20/20 it was the 'diabetes diet'  Overall, my goal was to be with my boyfriend forever, go to London for school, come back home after a year and ta-da that's life.

Being diagnosed with diabetes changed a lot. Not drastically at first, but looking back almost six years ago, it really changed me.  Of course it's hard to say because it's not like I lived this life before non-diabetic. Maybe age, broken hearts and living independently would have also changed me - well for sure it would have. But I can't imagine a change as drastic as diabetes being anything less than life changing.

It changed the person I was.  I went for careless to careful. I went from still to turbulent.  I went from knowing I had a headache because I have a headache to blaming everything on one thing, diabetes.  While I'd like to say that diabetes changed my life for the better (in some ways, yes, 100%) but in other ways not at all.

The quote comes into play because clearly when something happens it is happening because that is the path your life must take.  I believe that we have control of our paths to some extent. I didn't choose to have diabetes. However, those things that we don't decide, happen because they need to.  The relationships you build and break down happen for a reason. All of this happens for a reason.

Sometimes I ask myself why I was diagnosed with diabetes? Mainly when I see bad things pop up about diabetes, like 'early death' or the mere thought of having any diabetes related complication.  I get angry, like to the point where I can't focus on anything else but the fact I have diabetes.  I begin to get anxious about my future as a diabetic and no good ever comes from that.  However, when I really sit down and think about what has come because of my diagnosis, the connections that I've made, the experiences I have been given - I realize that it happened for a reason.