Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcoming 2017

So, here we are, the last day of 2016!   It is funny how a year change can make you feel so refreshed. I always related the new year feeling to September - that feeling of change and setting goals for a year ahead.  Now that I am not in school, September begins to feel less 'new year' to me, so I get excited for January to approach.


2016 was good to me.  I travelled to Cuba and California (3x).  I moved into a new home with M, after being in an apartment/student housing for what seemed like forever.   I started a new job that I really enjoy (although I do miss my nanny children very much) and I trained myself to run, and realized that I truly love running.   I do miss our dog Max whom we lost the beginning of 2016, but he lived a wonderful long life that I will always be thankful for.

In 2017 I hope to see more positive changes. We are to welcome our first niece into this world in February (and I cannot be more excited!) and Mom and I are travelling to California (I know, I am obsessed) to run our first 10k Disney Race! I only hope that everyone has an amazing 2017 ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fight For Your Life

Sitting in the waiting room looking over at my brother grinning with excitement, I reflect on the past years of his transition.  The road, which I am sure was much longer for him than for us as his family, was not smooth.   My heart ached for my brother as he struggled to find himself in a world that is filled with so much judgement.  I think to myself, how proud I am of his strength and perseverance, and that I wish others could see that there is so much life to be lived and hope to found. I check my iPhone as we wait patiently for them to call his name into surgery. I see he has wrote a status on Facebook that perfectly sums up what I was thinking . . . [Those sibling brain waves at work]

"If you are unhappy, push through. Good things are to come even if they take years. #living proof." - Jaxson

You see, when you're dealing with internal battles that are sometimes hard to talk about, everything can easily get pushed aside.  I feel as though my brother, who is transgender, had to walk through fire to get to where he is today, and as much as our feet burned while we tried to guide him, it was ultimately up to him to push through. Much like living with diabetes, we are guided by our friends, peers and family, but it is ultimately us that has to make the choice to push through.  

Although Jaxson is my younger sibling I can safely say he has taught me some very valuable lessons about life that I hope to pass along to those that I recognize are struggling. I also hope by writing this very blog post that at least one person can look at Jaxson's perseverance and see that no matter what your situation is, whether you're dealing with gender dysphoria, or struggling with your diabetes, the list is endless and is in no way ranked. What you're dealing with is real and valid, and so worth the fight. 

"I have never honestly felt the happiness and comfortability I have up to this point. Last year I was dragging myself just to be here and now I'm the happiest man alive. Don't give up, good things are yet to come. 👊🏼#fightforyourlife" - Jaxson

I also would like to state that I am a safe person to speak to, I will not shame, I will not judge, I will not tell.  


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Weight Off My Shoulders

"You Don't Know What You Got Until It's Gone," this statement rings true in many situations.  We get used to things, we get used to having food in our fridge, we get used to getting a pay cheque every two weeks and as people with diabetes, we get used to have test strips and insulin in our hands.

When I was in university I had benefits covered under my mom's plan. Any of my medications I needed, any dentist appointments or eye glasses.  I was able to go to the pharmacy at any time and get the medications I needed to survive, whether that be insulin or test strips for testing my blood sugar.  I knew that by the time my diploma was framed and put on my wall, those benefits would be taken away.   That's when I learned the method of stock-piling, getting my supplies ahead of time to make sure I could last as long as possible post-graduation without having to fork over half my pay cheque to survive.

From that stock-pile, I kept a keen eye on who was looking to get rid of supplies they did not need anymore. People switch meters all the time and are left with test strips they no longer need, my eyes were on those supplies.  I collected, and stored and forever thanked the people that were graciously adding to my stash.  I used samples given to doctors, insulin people did not want, I didn't turn down anything.

Almost three years post graduation, certain supplies become dreary.  The drawer that was once stock-piled with test strips has two petty sample canisters rolling around, that are for a meter I haven't taken out of a sealed box.  I unwrap the box, charge the meter and realize I have about 12 strips left before I need to really take action.

Now, I know that at anytime I can find my way to a pharmacy to fork over my hard earned cash to save my own life and sanity, but there is something about having to do that, that irks me.  There is also something about asking for help that also irks me, which puts me in a difficult place.

Knowing I will have test strips by Sunday, but not any day sooner, gives me hope that I can stretch my twelve test strips out for the next week.  My thinking, if I check twice a day, I will be okay.  Of course a few test strips fail due to not enough blood and I am frantically counting how many left I have.  Tonight, four.  M sees me in frustration counting the test strips left in the canister having to just throw one out due to an error.   I can see it in his eyes that he is worried, but doesn't want to push me.

I decide it's time to make a choice.  Fork over $50 + for 50 test strips that will last me two weeks or ask for help.  My pride fighting me with every letter I type to a friend in the diabetes community, I put my ego aside and ask for help. With open arms, within thirty minutes, test strips are at my front door.  I cannot thank this diabetes-family enough for their gift of test strips.

The relief of having over 100 test strips in my possession is beyond what any words can describe. Literally a weight off my shoulders. For years I had a drawer full and never once worried about how I was going to check my blood sugar tomorrow or the next day because the supplies were always there. Having these test strips means that both M and I can sleep peacefully knowing that we can test my blood sugar at anytime.

It's truly heartbreaking that to some in this world, this is not an option. I am humbled by the people that I have met along the journey of having diabetes and try not to take advantage of any given situation.  But, tonight, I am so incredibly thankful for the support this community & this particular family has given me.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Driving Miss Diabetes

Living in Ontario, Canada the weather can be pretty iffy. You could easily leave your house on a nice winter afternoon, only to have to drive home in a nightmare of a snow storm.  We have been hit especially hard this year with a lot of snow, wind and overall awful road conditions.  I am sure, there are many other places around the world that are fighting with weather while driving, whether that is with flooding, snow, or high winds.

While this sounds like a blog post for the weather network, I assure you it very much relates to diabetes.    Driving with diabetes already comes with some pretty big responsibilities.  When you get behind the wheel of your car, you are responsible to obey traffic laws and also, try to make sure you get from point A to point B in the safest manner, no matter who you are.    But, what happens when we add in some obstacles that we are not prepared for, a low blood sugar on the highway? a traffic incident that has you sitting in your car for hours longer than expected? Being prepared in your car is super important!
Pre-Driving Selfie

1. Pack Low Snacks in the Car....Everyone's Car! 

Winter driving can be full of unexpected obstacles.  Traffic can slow down, to an almost stand still, making your one hour commute into two hours.   I highly suggest packing low blood sugar supplies in the car for any emergency situations.  This is also handy for those that drive with people who have diabetes, whether you're their partner or parent.   Being prepared is crucial because if you are stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and have no low supplies what would you do?

2.  Double Check, Triple Check, Quadruple Check! 

Have you ever left the house without some of your key supplies?  *raises hand...*   I am bad for this, but I am trying to get better, with the help of my partner who also tries to remember for me.    Before you leave the house check your diabetes bag to make sure you have some critical diabetes supplies, your meter (and all that goes with it), your pump/injections, a site, a syringe, and of course extra low supplies.  Of course if you're going away for the weekend the list goes on, but if you're just leaving for a few hours, then make sure you have what you need for that moment.   It's important to have these things on you because once again your travel could be delayed and you may require more test strips, injections etc. while waiting.       Better yet, keep some supplies handy in the car, like sites and a syringe.

3. Bring Your Phone/Keep it Charged! 

This is just good advice for everyone, but when you're driving, especially in the winter, you can run into unexpected accidents or awful traffic.  It's always good to be able to update the people that are waiting on you/know you're out.    If you happen to be stranded and need help, having a phone could really save you.    Hopefully you won't be calling for them to bring your low supplies (because you read this and prepared your car ;) ) But regardless, having a charged cell phone is key.

4. Check your Blood Sugar! 

Now I just sound like a Mom, but last one I swear.  Driving with diabetes does not have to be dangerous, you can easily check your blood sugar to give yourself an idea of where you're heading... do you need to eat a few extra M&M's - then do it!  I think a lot of people with type 1 have a good instinct and if your body is telling you something then you need to listen!  Remember that delayed traffic could push into your routine time you usually would be eating etc. which would heighten the risk of going low.

Hopefully this was helpful as many people are driving longer distances this time of year to see friends and family!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Credit

This time of year can be tough for anyone.  The extra expenses of buying gifts, baking supplies, decorations... the visiting with people you hardly see and have to make small talk with as they ask you what you've been doing and when you plan on doing more... and for people who struggle with will power *raises hand* this time of year is like running a obstacle race minus the leaping over fire and army crawling through mud trenches...although, that isn't out of the question.

Living with diabetes I am constantly fighting to keep my blood sugars in balance.  It's like being on a teeter-totter and trying to remain in the middle without either side touching the ground.  The smallest of sugar can have a big effect and as you grow older with diabetes you begin to realize what food items effect you the most.  All carbohydrates aren't created equally.

I can't really remember my stress level for my first Christmas with diabetes, but I know I must have blogged about it somewhere... Ou, here is one, Christmas 2009. But, I do know that 7 Christmases later, I am still struggling the self control/ listen to your gut feeling when trying to navigate the Christmas spread.  With or without diabetes, I know this can be a struggle.  You've worked so hard all year to lose those ten pounds and after five Christmas parties you're back to where you began, or at least it feels that way.

The gyms get busier, people break out their Magic Bullets and Kale goes up in price because they know you're going to be all over that.   It's difficult.   1 week prior to Christmas I have given myself two boundaries, no cheese and no peanut butter.  I am trying to constantly remind myself what I have been working hard for this past year, (I started working on being healthier December 29th 2015).   I also want to try and stay conscience of what my blood sugars are, and remind myself that when my blood sugars are high, no one is happy.    This is something that is proven most difficult as the desserts rest on the table in front of you.    The smallest Christmas cookie can send my blood sugar into a frenzy.

But, if you're a person with diabetes remember to give yourself some credit over the holidays.  On top of trying to manage this disease that shows no boundaries, you also have a long list of things that come with it, carb counting for Grandma's Fruitcake (Or not...) bringing your insulin to each house you visit and remembering to pack extra test strips, the list goes on.  And for those that love someone with diabetes, remember to go easy on them, it isn't always easy to do or remember the things above, and controlling blood sugars around this time of year can be a daunting and stressful tasks.


Monday, December 19, 2016

My 1%

I hate to measure my level of diabetes care on purely my numbers. But, living with diabetes, we can be really hard on ourselves when certain numbers just don't reflect the way we want them to.  On average I check my blood sugar five times a day, sometimes less, sometimes way more, regardless that number that flashes on my screen is a defining moment for that specific time.  That blood sugar represents my last hour-ish of diabetes care. The pulsing high blood sugar that makes you wish you didn't have that glass of eggnog, or that vibrant low blood sugar that makes you wish you had more eggnog.   Regardless, as much as I try to give myself some credit beyond the numbers, it's not that easy.

There is one number that rules them all, that is the a1c.    A test that is done every 3 months to give yourself and your medical team a snapshot of your diabetes care, purely based on numbers, but regardless this number is highly fixated on.  An a1c is pretty powerful, it can grant you permission to try for a baby, it can deny you permission to get your drivers licence and it also can deny you permission to an insulin pump (here in Ontario...)  This number, that can be skewed by an abundance of low blood sugars, and also by the last month of blood sugars weighing heavier.... this number can also have the power to discourage you, encourage you or simply break you down.

My last a1c which was done in July was not great.  I don't cry over my diabetes often but my last a1c brought me to tears, angry tears.   You can read about the experience through this via Raise Us Up.   I was devastated to say the least.  The best way to make it relatable is stepping on the scale to be weighed after 3 months of ups and downs.  The number that reflects isn't always awesome and if we see a gain, we can feel defeated, but when we see a loss, isn't it a great feeling.

This brings me to my latest a1c that I got done this past week.  I must add that I am so happy LifeLabs has an online option of checking your blood work without having to call in.   Although it makes for an interesting google binge as you try to figure out what each thing means that they tested, even though it all came back normal.   There was my a1c with a nice caution sign above it, but guess what? It was a whole 1% lower.  Seriously, 1%. 

I instantly felt relief, that if I could get it 1% lower, I can continue to work hard.  That being said, I tried to remind myself that numbers are a mere reflection, but not the entire picture. I brought myself back to the me that was crying at the end of my bed and remember that that Kayla was just as great as the Kayla I am now, despite the a1c reading. I can continue to fight for that great a1c, but also need to keep myself in check in other ways.  Chasing the perfect numbers sometimes comes with a price, a chunk of your mental health.

So as I push forward and constantly remind myself that each day is a new opportunity to work alongside diabetes and to be OK with the numbers that I produce, good or bad and that while my numbers are important, they are not the whole picture.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Five things NOT to say to a T1D during the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching which means you will be reunited with relatives from all over that barely know much about you, except maybe that you have diabetes, people don't forget that. I decided to create a list of the top things people say to people living with diabetes during the holidays.... I'm sure everyone means well. Don't worry as people living with diabetes, we know the answers to your questions, well I mean we have the politically correct answers and the answers we keep to ourselves.

1. Can You Eat That?

 If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I could eat something during the holidays, I'd be living on an island in the Caribbean, with a large yacht right about now.  I am not sure why people like to pick apart the plate of a person with diabetes, but it's become all too common. So common, that I already know when a person is going to ask me before they even ask me.    I must admit my grandparents are so bad for this.   Every get together my Grandma usually gives me that face like, "you little rebel you, eating a cookie with diabetes..."   

2. What's Your Blood Sugar?

Next time someone asks, I am going to directly ask them their weight, followed by asking them their blood pressure.   Seriously, asking me what my blood sugar is, is a little intrusive... I mean, I usually do not care, because half the time when people ask, they have no idea if it's 'good' or 'bad' (That is usually the next question) But really,  unless I am low or seriously high, you likely do not need to know.

3. Are You Still Taking Insulin?

Nope. I'm cured.    Okay, so I haven't been asked this directly, but I know people have been asked this before.   The thing is is that a lot of people mistake different types of diabetes for others... and to add on that, a lot of people do not know about diabetes regardless of the type. This leads to all kinds of strange questions like if we still have diabetes, if we still take medication for diabetes, if our diabetes will go away, the list goes on.   I'm not asking Uncle Joe if he still takes medication for his cholesterol, so Uncle Joe, don't ask me if I still take medicine for my diabetes. [I don't have an Uncle Joe, but I am going to assume if I did, he would have high cholesterol.]

4. Should You be Drinking Alcohol with Your Diabetes?

Well, diabetes doesn't always make the perfect drinking partner, a person living with diabetes can likely still drink unless told otherwise by a professional (not by a relative or a stranger).    While there are some cautions to take with drinking and living with diabetes, there is just as much caution with other conditions and umm, personalities.   So, if you see someone enjoying a glass of wine, who also happens to have diabetes, I am sure they will be okay.. no need to police them.

5. I am glad you're doing well. You know Bob, he isn't doing very well with his diabetes, so he is running to major complications, but you, you're doing well, so you're okay! 

This one is more of a statement than anything.... this is something that people say A LOT.   They know someone with diabetes that isn't fairing so well.  Often followed by reasons why this person ended up with complications due to lack of care.  This comes with some assumptions that the person you're telling this to is a 'perfect' diabetic and does not need to worry about complications. But, the truth is, is that many people with diabetes struggle and especially around this time of the year. It is likely that the person you're making this statement to has seen high numbers flashing on their meter screens and in turn is now worried they're on the same destruction path as poor Bob... please stop the horror stories, it's Christmas!

There are so many other statements and questions that are asked at this time of the year and SOMETIMES these questions come out of curiosity, and that is OKAY! I am totally fine at giving a diabetes education lesson at a party, but the most important thing is that if you are curious, be sure to carefully think about how to ask the question! I'd assume this translates to any medical condition and other issues that people make blanket statements about... I won't even get started on this one.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Top Five Things NOT to get a T1D

I was thinking back to some of the things I have received during my seven years living with type 1 diabetes and it dawned on me that while I have gotten a lot of items from people in my life that are 'diabetes' related, a lot of the things just didn't get used or create any form of excitement like any other gift would. 'Tis the season that your friends and family are roaming around the malls and big box stores looking for something for you, the person with diabetes.    You know you're bound to get one of these things in your stocking if you don't clarify quickly that just because you have diabetes does not mean the world has to revolve around that fact.  [Looking for a way to get that message across, just share this post] 

1.  Sugar Free Candy/Chocolate 

No, just no.    Here is the thing, while this seems like the perfect little stocking stuffer for that sugar-free person in your life, it actually is a better gift for your enemy.  A majority of these candies or chocolates are laced with fake sugars that well, let's just say, has you running to the bathroom.  

I cannot count how many times I have been given sugar-free candy or chocolate in the past seven years, but I can tell you that I only had to try it once to know that this stuff isn't as charming as we would like it to be.

So, as much as Sugar-Free shouts, 'BUY THIS FOR SOMEONE WITH DIABETES' resist and buy them a real chocolate bar, they have insulin and they will enjoy it a lot more.

2. Diabetic Lotions, Creams and Magical Spells 

If a person with diabetes feels the need to buy special lotion, let them buy it on their own.   Nothing says, "you're special' like receiving lotion that is specifically designed for your medical condition.   I have never used any of these creams, lotions or magical spells before, but I can only assume the ingredients are similar to any other lotion and that the charm is in the marketing.    Take a trip to Bath & Body Works and get them some nice smelling lotion if you feel inclined, it won't do us harm, even if it is candy scented... and I am sure we will love it more than 'diabetics' dry skin relief' lotion.

3. Diabetes Education Related Books 

I wanted to specify that I mean certain diabetes books because a lot of my peers with diabetes have amazing books both children's books and adult books that could make an amazing gift. HOWEVER, one year I actually did get this exact book, "Diabetes for Dummies."  I apologize if the person who gave it to me is reading this. Although, I think it was given as a joke.  However, if you've got this book in your hand in the book store and your humming and hawing over getting it for the person with diabetes in your life (especially if they were just diagnosed) PUT IT DOWN.  

Once again, if the person with diabetes is so inclined to read more about the disease they live with 24/7 they can find it.  Get them an inspiring book, diabetes related or not. Get them a newspaper, anything BUT,  a book telling them how to control their diabetes, how to cure their diabetes or how to eat with their diabetes.

4. Diabetes Magazines 

This follows along the same guidelines as the diabetes education books.  Diabetes magazines do have some good information in them, but my guess is that most people living with diabetes rather read a magazine about their favourite hobbies and not their disease that is currently kicking their butt over the Christmas season.    The point is that magazines about diabetes is once again something the person with diabetes can search for on their own... why not embrace the person with diabetes' talents, interests, love for juicy celebrity gossip, rather than forcing them to read articles about going low.

5.  Diabetes Compression Socks 

Nothing says sexy like gifting a pair of diabetes compression socks (with grippers, I must add!)   This gift basically points out two things, the person has diabetes and needs help with circulation in their legs..... which is a common thing for people with diabetes, but why bother bringing that topic around the Christmas Tree.   Instead, give them some exciting Christmas Socks, something happy and cheerful, and let them take care of the compression socks on their own....


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Alongside My Diabetes

There is something about living with diabetes that almost erases all your memories of not living with diabetes at some point in your life whether you were diagnosed at 12, 15 or 18.   I have lived more years withOUT diabetes (18 years) than with diabetes (7 years), and yet I can barely grasp the concept of eating something without any consequences... Maybe this is some weird coping mechanism, so I don't think back to those care-free days, but regardless, those 'feelings' of life without diabetes are most definitely gone.

This morning as I got up, after a few low blood sugars throughout the night and previous day, I began to think of all the times diabetes has really taken me back.  The number of hours of missed sleep, the number of  sporadic purchases of sugar in stores to bring myself back to normal, the time I spent grumbly picking fights because my blood sugar was so high that my mind and heart were broken.   All of the times diabetes set me back from going for a run, driving, going for a walk.... There are so many times that diabetes has reared its head into my life beyond any of what I think people imagine diabetes does.

Diabetes isn't just about making healthy food choices and getting in physical activity. Diabetes isn't even just about carb counting, insulin injections or blood sugar checks.  Diabetes is a life changing disease that alters almost, if not everything that a person does.  Diabetes is serious.  Diabetes takes time away from things I love, diabetes takes a piece of mental capacity away, diabetes breaks my heart sometimes.   People with diabetes are fighting a battle every single day, every single second and we do not always understand the circumstances nor can predict what will happen.  

I cannot remember the days where my sugar intake did not make a difference to my mood, body, feelings, strength.

I cannot remember the days that I did not have to get up and use the bathroom to fight the sugar that runs amuck of my body.

I cannot remember the days that I did not have to stop, focus my mind, try to stay alert and get glucose in my system as fast as possible.

I do not remember because for the past seven years I have been fighting every single second to be healthy and live my life alongside my diabetes.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

International Insight

The more conferences that I attend the more I realize how greatly they have impacted my thinking and perspective.  For example, if I had never been to international conferences, I'd likely have no idea how others around the world deal with their diabetes.  Why is that important to me?  Because, learning about how others deal with their diabetes is incredibly important in building a creditable outlook on 'diabetes' because diabetes while, medically speaking is the same no matter what country you are from, everything else that factors into living with diabetes can be drastically different.

In the most honest of ways I am going to let you know that my heart breaks for those living with diabetes in countries that have little to no access to insulin or their supplies.   This wasn't something I learned form an infomercial asking me to send money, this was something I learned face to face with people who are living this nightmare.  I remember last year at the YLD conference in Vancouver, I was in a room with people who were from some of the poorer countries and listening to their stories were absolutely heartbreaking.  These people were struggling, beyond anything that I could comprehend.  Beyond  the frustration of not getting the correct test strips, beyond the anger of the rising dispensing fee, beyond anything that me, as a Canadian can comprehend.

I always tell this story of a roommate that I had when I was at the conference in Melbourne, Australia and for those that have not heard me talk about or read about it, I will tell it again.   When I arrived to Australia I had a big suitcase full of dresses, shorts, make-up, hair products, you name it, I had it stuffed into my suitcase for my 2.5 week stay in Australia.  Of course I also had diabetes supplies busting out of the seams of both my luggage and carry-on bag. An extra pump, syringes, vials of insulin, canisters of testing strips, extra batteries, back up meters.... it was like a pharmacy threw up in my bags.   

My roommate, from the African region, was telling me with excitement about her new meter. Which, I gladly admit, I get excited about new diabetes meters as well. But, when I asked her what she was using before she let me know something that has forever changed my mind set.  

"I never had a meter before this. We had to walk to the clinic to get our blood sugar checked."

This is why I can't complain. This is why I lose focus in listening to people complain that are from countries that can make it work, somehow, some way.    I am not saying that a person in a first world country does not have problems, that are real, that are vital. I get that there is a HUGE issue with the cost of insulin in countries that should be able to maintain a fair cost of insulin.  But what if you couldn't get insulin at all. What if you couldn't find insulin? What if you had to walk your family every single day to the clinic just to know what her blood sugar was?   

I am sure people will disagree with me, that the struggle is real world-wide. I know that's true.... I mean, I literally asked my mom to put test strips in my stocking because I do not have benefits and that cost is out of pocket for me.  But, with the same breath, I am so thankful to know that if I needed to buy insulin, I can go to Wal-Mart, or Shoppers Drug Mart down the street.  That if I needed test strips, I could do the same, or even call a friend who would gladly be able to share their supply.  It just isn't that way in other countries around the world and it breaks my heart. 

I am grateful. I am thankful and I will never, ever forget the life lessons I have learned from international diabetes conferences. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

That Voice



"How much insulin do you have on board?"

"Well, my blood sugar was high, I took the correction plus some, maybe 4 units left on board?"

"Shouldn't you check?"

"I am tired..."

"Shouldn't you just check? Look at your pump."

"Okay, in a minute..."

"Do it now. Also, shouldn't you check your blood sugar?"

"I do feel sort of low... and I may have a lot of insulin on board.."

"Yes, you may go really low in the night?"

"What if you don't wake up from you low?"

"Do you have any rocket candies left? Did you eat them all?"

"I think I have some in my travel bag in the other room.."

"Shouldn't you go check? What will you eat if you are low and don't have any left?"

"Well, I could maybe have a glass of milk and.."

"That won't be enough."

"Go check your blood sugar..."

"I do feel pretty low..."

"You really should put your meter by your bed and find some rockets."

"I really should..."

This is an example of the inner voice that haunts me when I turn in for the night.  The voice that is like a nagging mom that tries to convince myself I need help, sugar, a glass of water, anything to do with my diabetes, this voice nags me.  I guess I am lucky to have this voice. It acts as a reminder to keep myself in check and not let sleepiness nor laziness take over.  But, there are nights when this voice hardly mutes itself and keeps me worried or on the edge.  Often when I am between sleep and wakefulness and need to take time to wake my body to take action.  This is the conversation between diabetes and its owner.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Chasing Highs & Lows

Chasing highs and lows, if I gave you a list of these numbers can you tell me what the pattern is:  6.2, 12.8, 17.5, 15.2, 3.9, 14.2, 3.5, 10.8. If you guessed no pattern, you're correct.  These 8 numbers are my blood sugars I logged yesterday and yesterday wasn't a 'wacky, is it a full moon day,' these days happen to people with type 1 diabetes... where we just can't seem to catch the lows and highs and keep ourselves, what feels, above water.

With the fluctuations of blood sugars ranging from high to low, I find myself feeling moody, annoyed,  and anxious.   There are days that my blood sugars stay fairly close in range, but then there are days like yesterday where I literally feel like I am on a teeter-totter. It's hard to try and understand what 'sets' off the blood sugars, as you can see I checked eight times yesterday and still couldn't seem to find a blood sugar that wasn't either high or low.  

It's a tough gig trying to manage your diabetes and the rest of your life and still be a civil person. It takes patience and a deep breath sometimes for us to push through the frustration of the neon glowing number on our meter screen.


Friday, November 18, 2016


Sometimes I despise diabetes. When my blood sugar is high, when I can't keep my blood sugar up, when my site rips out and falls onto the floor, when I use my last test strip while I am out and wish I had one more... there are so many reasons to despise the disease that takes up a large chunk of my mental capacity, but in the same breath, I am so thankful for diabetes.

It's such an odd saying and I've said it so many times, I think I forget the significance of why I say it, but last night reconfirmed why I seriously am so thankful.   I have been so lucky to meet amazing friends through diabetes and often times I think of it in a global sense, I have been so lucky to travel the world to be with other people living with diabetes, but in reality, I have my own lifelong diabetes friends that live very close to me... I mean, a couple hours away, but way closer than across the world and I am so thankful that I get to connect with these people.

Last night, my friend Dani was in town and I invited her to check out my Empowerment group that I run weekly with teen girls from my community.  Dani had been to one of these events before, but she was lucky, we had a full house of teens buzzing with excitement. She got to meet the girls that I spend an hour with every week and I was so happy that she got to be apart of the magic of my diabetes support group. Then, she came by my house, we have recently moved, so I was excited to show her my new home.    But, beyond it all, I was so happy to be around someone with diabetes, who gets it, who has been there for me for many years and who happens to wear the exact same pump as I do (purple and proud!)

It's the little conversations between one another that mean the most, the reassuring that feeling of, 'I get it. Don't worry.' I probably could spend hours just dishing out my feelings to her, person to person, and really venting about the frustrations of living with diabetes.  Seeing her pump tubing coming out of her pocket, her pump falling out of her coat jacket, or her going to check her blood sugar because she felt low.... all of these things that take up my day, take up my time, take up my strength, all of these things that she does too.

I am so incredibly thankful because, I have many friends that live with type 1 diabetes who I know I would have never met otherwise.  These people are incredible inside and out and despite us sharing the same disease, we share a friendship that can't quite compare to any other.


Friday, November 11, 2016

DiabetesMine: Innovation Summit

I was lucky enough to have been selected as one of the winners of the DiabetesMine: Innovation Summit contest, in which people/parents of people with diabetes were invited to attend a conference in San Francisco, California among some interesting participants that are actively trying to improve the lives of people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.   This conference was unlike any conference I had attended (and I have attended quite a bit!)   I found an instant connection with some of the other winners of the contest and also with the content that was discussed during the conference.

The conference started off with a social hour (the conference was over a two day span, but we were invited to the social hour of the first day, and the conference in its entirety the second day) The social hour gave us an opportunity to meet the other winners of the conference, but also meet some of the corporations, tech people and some other people living with diabetes and participating in the diabetes community.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces for me that I didn't realize would be there, including Paul Madden (former IDF Young Leaders member) and Christina (former IDF Young Leader and head of Diabetes College Network).

The following day, like most conferences was a full packed day, with a lot of information, great input, and emotions.  Here are the things that stood out to me:

1. Kyra Bobinet, M.D: Speaking about engaging in health, happiness and wellness 

I LOVED this presentation. It was totally up my alley of happiness and wellness and I really think I took the most from this presentation. While it wasn't completely about diabetes, and was more general, I felt like every bit of information from this presentation as useful, grounding and inspiring. I really took a lot from this presentation, including working on better focus, mediation and mindfulness.  Kyra had a lot of interesting studies and facts to back up her research and I really was engaged in the theories and ideas.

2.  Prioritizing Quality of Life 

A few of the speakers talked about QOL in their presentations and I felt like it was very eye opening and I almost wish they could do a speakers series for all of our endocrinologists and diabetes teams.  They really highlighted the importance of measuring QOL and what that truly means.   One speaker, Kasey Boehmer, talked about the idea of a 'non compliant' patient, something we may sometimes be told we are!  In reality, she broke down the background of a patient and how it is KEY in working alongside patients.   I took what I learned from these presentations and applied them to my T1 Empowerment group, focusing on root causes of negativity in regards to their diabetes.  I think it is important to grasp the understanding of a person as a WHOLE and not just as their disease.

3. Games and Apps

As many people know I am a HUGE social media lover, and there are certain apps that I use daily, social media related or not. So, it was so interesting to hear from a couple speakers about their initiative in making online games and apps for patients to keep them interested, motivated and plugged in.  For example, Jennifer Shine Dyer, M.D, is creating a Ninja video game specifically for people living with diabetes and Anna McCollister-Slipp (a person living with diabetes) also is working on an app for people with diabetes!

4.  We need support and we need to fight for it 

Anytime I go to a conference it is often a global initiative with people from other countries besides my own, Canada. There is a huge issue in awareness, funding, expenses and support and it is very clear at every conference I go to.   People are emotional, people are tired and people sometimes need to vent those frustrations in order to help brainstorm a better solution.  I do feel lucky to live in the country I live in, I know it is not perfect, and yes, my insulin and test strips are not covered, those are my expenses, but there are so many countries out there that need help, assistance, even just a person to say, 'I know how you feel' or 'I have been there.'    That is the beauty about conferences, we get to connect with one another and really share ours stories and most importantly empower one another.   A mother of a child with diabetes, Brenda Hunter, showed how powerful a voice can be and how that alone can empower change.  She is the co-founder of No Small Voice, which is an initiative to provide transparency with insurance companies in the U.S.A.

Overall, this conference was a success. I truly enjoyed meeting the people I did, and hearing new information that has really sparked my drive to make change in the diabetes community.

Special thanks to Michael Hoskins and Amy Tenderich for making this experience happen.


Disclaimer: DiabetesMine paid for my flight, two nights stay and food during the conference. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Syringes & Cookies

Today diabetes really tested me. I don't often get mad at my diabetes but today it really threw me a curve ball in what was a wonderful day. Just as I was enjoying the bread bowl, I bolused and got a "no delivery" notice. I troubleshooted for a bit but no results. I tried not to panic as we were no where near our hotel and I didn't have a syringe on me (we transferred things in bags and I'm human and forgot to pack some supplies).  Thankfully I was meeting a friend who also had diabetes but it was going to be a couple hours until she could get to me.

Mike and I tried to find a pharmacy with a pharmacist so we could get a syringe. Then, I could extract insulin.  Thankfully, Walgreens hooked me up with a single 50 cent syringe and I then had to transfer insulin (finding out my reservoir was totally messed up... literally broken and not unhooking properly...) regardless, in the middle of a not-so-nice mall I tried to get enough insulin in this large syringe so I could at least get in a bolus for that massive bread bowl Mike and I shared (of course I had massive carb filled lunch) To be honest, I was so panicked about the whole thing, in the middle of San Francisco that I didn't really carefully measure the amount of insulin, I did know it was under the 10 mark, but my blood sugar was 24.7 mmol/L I needed it.

So, at this point we had walked quite a bit but we had a lot more walking to do. I ignored my pump as it vibrated for attention, but clearly wasn't doing its job. We did some more sight seeing and frequent blood sugar checks, slowly but surely it was going down, however it was still high so I took another bolus (mind you I had no background basal, so I had to keep that in mind) about two hours or less later, I began to feel off. I checked and I was going low and I also had no idea how much insulin I had on board. I did know this, I once again failed myself and didn't back sufficient low supplies and I knew we had a lot more walking ahead of us.

So, we went on searching for food. We found a yacht club.  They were having an event and we hovered by the door as there was a table that read "kids only" and had a delectable plate of cookies on it! Perfect. I'm not a kid, but I'm low!  I asked a lady that was by the door and explained my situation much like I had to do to the pharmacist but different circumstances. With no hesitation she told me of course. I grabbed a couple "kids only" cookies and headed on my way.

Soon, it was time to meet with my friend who was prepared to give me the supplies I needed. I am so thankful for those global diabetes friends I have made along the way. But, also thankful for the community in which some how works together to protect one another, and help each other out. Because, if it wasn't for the pharmacist, Mike, the cookie lady or Krystal... today would have been much worse.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Just Show Up

Today I set out to run my week 7, day 3 run of the Couch to 5K program.   I needed the extra push of motivation, as the couch was looking more appealing than the run, but once I got out to the park, I was set.  I am a firm believer in just showing up.  When you show up, there are way more opportunities, opportunities that you do not know exist. I kept this in mind as I parked my car, got out on the pavement and warmed up for my run.   Little did I know, a Runner's Choice 1/2 marathon was taking place at the same time.  I ran the opposite way of the runners, which means I got to see each passing face as I ran by and it was....Inspiring.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a reason as to why they showed up.  It isn't always easy.   Living with type 1 diabetes, sometimes I feel diabetes holds me back and makes me wait patiently while time passes by, but in reality, there are times when I am holding myself back.  I have practicing how to self motivate, how to show up.   I was in awe at each runner. Some looked professional, like they had been running for years and years, all the running gadgets and proper technique, while others looked as those this may be their first race.  There were people of all ages and sizes, and abilities and that inspired me.

Running has changed me and I hate to sound cliche, but each day I wake up with a different goal and ability to do better for myself and I am falling in love with just that.  I ran my fastest pace today conquering almost 5k, and I credit not only myself, but every single person that passed by me today on that trail.   In particular, I passed one girl who was heavier set, she had the biggest smile on her face and the person in front of me (who was not in the race, began clapping for her)  I smiled at her and in that moment I wanted to say, "You've got this! Keep going!"  She was running 1/2 a marathon, something I am not close to competing in and it was so inspiring. I cried under my sunglasses as I thought about all the obtacles people go through in order to achieve their goals. The struggles, the setbacks, the record-breaking achievements, the pain, the happiness, all that is a part of running and the running community.

I am just new to this, and I can feel my energy growing, my glow, my heart and my spirit.   Never doubt your abilities, never doubt your impact and most importantly, ALWAYS show up.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Private Lows

I do not like to bother people when my diabetes needs attention.  There is something about being low, that makes me quiet. That hushes me from alerting people, I try to figure it out on my own. I reach into my bag quietly and unroll a package of rockets to shove into my mouth.  I try not to make anyone stop for me, keep going and I will catch up.  But, why?  Is this my low brain or is this how I handle my lows?

I often go low in the night despite my efforts to stop it from happening.  I wake up from my slumber feeling off, and I usually lay there until my brain wakes up and realizes it's go time.  I get up from bed, trying to be quiet without disrupting M and Cola.    When I lived alone, I would often bring my food up to my bed and enjoy a comfortable snack in bed, but now I fear waking up M and not because he would care, but I just don't want him to have to deal with me. Although, sometimes I am so low, I think I should wake him. But then his sleep is ruined, I think to myself.

I sit quietly in the kitchen with my collection of snacks.  All a blur, because I am half asleep.  This isn't just a night time thing either. I can't blame my sleepiness for being so private about my lows. In public, I often try hard to just be 'normal' until I can find space to eat.  I count my change in my shaky palm and order something from the cashier without mentioning my low blood sugar or diabetes, I finish up my work, hoping to get to my bag before I drop to the ground.

'I'll get there, I will take care of this, but I need to get this done first.'


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Belly Full, Mind Weak.

The first low is usually okay.  As long as you're prepared it's an opportunity to have a piece of fudge or candy that you wouldn't normally have.  But, when the lows persist, there is no worse feeling.  The feeling of being totally out of control of your own body.  The dread of having to stuff carbs down your throat when your belly is full and your mind is weak.   There is nothing fun about getting to roam the kitchen at 2 a.m searching for substance to keep you alive.

Since I started my running journey, I have been going low a lot.  I am constantly checking my car, my purse, my bed-side table making sure that I have restocked my low supplies.  That usually doesn't stop me from wandering into the kitchen regardless looking for something to satisfy my low.  Constantly telling myself, don't eat the whole kitchen.    But, the search for food is only a part of the low. When you have a low after a low after a low, it starts to wear on you emotionally.

I can't compare the emotional exhaust to anything else, but personally, there comes a point when I feel my mind weakening. I can't cope with how tired my body and mind is.  I have been low, over and over again, I have lost sleep, I have eaten all of the fudge, what next?

This could be taken as a sign that exercise and diabetes is too hard to mix. But, hard is okay.  I am willing to figure this out, despite the exhaust and the mental feats. I know that I am not alone in my disease and that many others have sleepless nights because of lows. While it is frustrating, I take this as an opportunity to ask for help, seek better options and really try to master (as much as possible)  running and diabetes and ALL of the lows that come with that.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

One Foot in Front of the Other

You know that saying from that Christmas movie, 'just put one foot in front of the other.'  Every now and then I find myself singing it in my head, either because I truly need that Kris Kringle inspiration or my dad engrained it in my head from many years of having to watch all the Christmas specials on cable.

I find this saying rings true for a lot of things. I am a planner.  I love things to be planned and I love knowing what I am doing in advance.  I am organized and particular, yet I also like surprises and being spontaneous sometimes.  It doesn't make all that much sense, but as you can imagine, I can get quite anxious about things fairly easy because of this interest in both spontaneity and preparation.  This saying often helps me sit back and think about what I am worried about, what I need to get done and reminds me that each step is important, but needs my focus. As long as I am moving, I am going somewhere.

We do not reach our goals in one giant leap. It takes steps.  It takes patience and trust that we will reach that goal, and 'putting one foot in front of the other' is key in achieving success.     I think about diabetes management and how overwhelming the thought of taking care of my diabetes for the rest of my life can be. If you really think about how much time and effort you will have to put in over a lifetime, you can get rather stressed over the matter. But, instead if you focus on that first step of taking care of yourself and move on as the day continues, it becomes less of a daunting task.

I find this goes with weight loss, healthy eating, career paths, the list is endless.  It is really easy to get caught up in the big picture without really focusing on those steps that need to be done to get there.  It takes one step in the right direction to push you forward. If you need to pause and reflect after a few steps, that is O.K too, just remember when you're ready, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cookie Cutter

For anyone who struggles with their relationship with food, adding diabetes [carb counting, self-medication, burn-out, mental stress...] can make it incredibly difficult to overcome certain battles.  Part of me feels like I am making progress in loving myself and my journey, but part of me struggles with finding practical balances with my diabetes, healthy eating, and exercise. I have set high expectations for myself, and more than ever I feel like I am ready to take on a challenge and surpass it.  I have been through this before, I have lost weight, I have gained weight, I have beaten myself down with negative talk and I have felt on-top-of-the-world. BUT, when does that cycle stop?  When can we commit to loving ourselves always? When can we say, enough is enough?

I am falling in love with running and despite always thinking I wasn't designed for running, I am building my confidence in myself that there is no 'runners' body and there isn't a cookie cutter shape for a person that is healthy.   Healthy is happy, and feeling confident in your own skin. Healthy is taking on challenges that excite you and believing in yourself.  I don't want to make this a cycle, I want to make this a lifestyle. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We Too

I am sure many of us have had people tell us, "I could never be diabetic."  I couldn't count the number of times people have said that to me, as they laugh and go on about how they love cake too much or they hate the sight of needles.   I usually just nod and laugh along with them, I mean, would they be shocked if I told them, I love cake too?

I did not choose to have diabetes.  Some magical mix of genetics and luck has given me a disease that requires my full attention and not only that, but, unfortunately requires needles. This disease also requires me to think about cake a bit differently, fear not, I can still eat cake, but that cake comes with a number and you'd be surprised what that number is sometimes.   I wish I could say that I could never be diabetic and make it happen but the truth is, I am diabetic. It happened to me, and I am dealing with it every single day, every hour, every minute.

Now, I am not trying to rant on people who have said this to me because I think almost everyone at some point in their life has said it (probably myself pre-diabetes too) but, hopefully what this post does is alarm people in knowing that people living with chronic diseases are not always burdened by their diseases, they push forward and make it work.

We too, do not like having to do these things.
We too, did not think we could give ourselves needles or go through rigorous treatments. 
We too, thought this would never happen to us.  


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Strong Headed

There are parts of my days that I feel out of commission. Like someone found my pin, pulled it and I am slowly deflating. My head is pounding, and I am angrily checking my blood sugar and begging it to go down. I feel thirsty and upset and I want to crawl back into bed, but I can't because I have a life to live.  I have written about having an invisible illness before [Invisible Post] but, as I read it over, I realize I focused more on the physicality than the practical portion of what truly makes living with an invisible illness difficult, so I am going to take some time today to post about it.

The other day at work my blood sugar shot up. I couldn't think of why it would shoot up so fast and so aggressively, but regardless I accepted it. I was working at this point, so I took some time to change my site and made sure I was checking every 30 minutes or so. At this point I felt all the classic high symptoms and I kept thinking to myself, if I had a non-invisible disease and you could clearly see that I was sick right now, it would be more acceptable to leave.   In my mind when I am high or low, I do not see the urgency for what it really is. I deal with it and hope that it goes away fast. But, we all know that isn't always the case.

I have a strong suspicious that many people living with diabetes hardly ever take themselves out of the ringer when dealing with highs or lows. That many of us keeping going because we do not want to make a big deal about it. So, I may have to use the bathroom every 15 minutes, and I may chug water straight out of the water cooler, but I am here. I am present, but I am so incredibly high.

As bias as I am, I like to think that people living with diabetes are for the most part strong headed. A lot of us just keep pushing on, despite feeling like trash at least once a day, whether that is at 2 a.m, 5:30 p.m or the entire day.  But, what I think is important to take from this is that we do deserve a break and especially when we are high or low. There is no reason to push aside our health because it doesn't 'appear' bad.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Low in the Night

Imagine you're lying in bed. You've been asleep for a couple hours and you suddenly wake up. You feel strange, but you aren't sure why. You lay there in agony thinking "what time is it?" You glance over at your phone and check the time, and huff and mumble about only have a few hours left before the alarm rings. You try to go back to sleep but, you feel hungry. You feel beyond hungry as if you could clear out a variety store in half a second. But, you try to ignore that feeling. You have been doing so well with clean eating, why destroy it now? You try to close your eyes and ignore it but, your mind begins to talk to you. "Get up, check your blood sugar. You're low." You try and ignore it and think of all the reasons why you aren't low. "I was 12 mmol/L before bed."  "I ate a snack before bed." "I'm sure it's just hunger not a low..." But, there comes a point where your mind is literally screaming at you. So, you give in. You find your glasses, pull the covers off yourself and walk down the stairs to the kitchen. The whole time thinking, "please don't eat too much. Just take what you need and go back to bed."  You reach the kitchen and realize it would be much easier to keep things closer to the bedroom but, you can't remember it all. You check and you're low. You think what you want, but, know that you're wasting precious sleep time. You grab a few things, still reminding yourself, "take what you need and go."    You stumble back upstairs disrupting your partner who is also trying to sleep before the alarm goes off. You lay there, still feeling low but, know that you've ate enough. You ate more than enough. You toss and turn and try to quiet your mind and still your body. You fall back asleep, hoping a low doesn't visit again.


Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Your Journey

Diabetes is not a race, it's a journey. I think it is incredibly easy to get caught up in numbers measuring our success as people living with diabetes. "What's your a1c?" is the dreaded question that somehow marks your capability of being able to take care of yourself.  But, that isn't what living with diabetes is about.  I got really caught up in my last a1c. I honestly felt like I let myself down but more terrifying was that I felt like I let down my community. I get that I play a large roll in the diabetes community and I have teens that rely on me as a good role model, but I felt like I was cheating them.   It wasn't until I sat down and thought about why I was beating myself up over a number that actually isn't my final score. An a1c is a blood test that gives your a snapshot of your last three months, not your future.

I threw that mentality of diabetes being a race out the window. I am not competing with people. I am proud of those that hold great titles of a1c's and that check their blood sugar without hassle and eat clean 24/7. You go girl! But, I cannot be perfect. I cannot hold myself above or below, I need to focus on the journey ahead - the journey of living with type 1 diabetes for the rest of my life.

Focusing on the day to day goals is easier than focusing on lowering my a1c, that's a given. But, incorporating focusing on my mental health, physical fitness, social status, work load, those day to day goals can get blurry and that's okay.  I am listening to my body, my thoughts and living in this moment. Diabetes will throw curve balls at me but so will anything else, that is what makes it your journey.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Voila, Appointment Done.

The other day I had my endocrinologist appointment. I was nervous to go with the heightened a1c, but, felt that since getting the "wake up" call a1c, my blood sugars were half decent and I was at least checking 5-6 times a day.   Regardless, going into any appointment I was weary of what they might say.

The first step was getting myself weighed and my blood pressure done. Usually I would be nervous about getting weighed because well, who likes someone weighing them? But, I knew for sure that I was down from my last visit and I had weighed myself in the A.M so I had an idea of what it would be. No shocker there.  Blood pressure was totally normal and I actually remembered not to cross my legs when I sat down to get it done - success.

Next was heading into the actual office to sit down and wait for someone to come in. Of course I got the resident (does everyone get the resident or is it just me?)  I am all for learning, and such but sometimes when I just want to get in and out of an appointment, I feel like it adds 20-25 minutes of questions and protocol that I am already very aware of. "The reason you go low when you work out is because..." Yup, I know.

Next was my actual doctor, who is super nice.  I actually do not mind seeing her, but I always fear one day she will look at my blood work or pump upload and lay down the law. But, it wasn't the day for that, she told me I was doing a great job (even though I didn't feel like I was to my own standards) and that she would just change a few minor basal rates and viola, appointment done.   Oh, and a couple samples of insulin - which for a girl with no benefits, I'm all for.

I left feeling good about the appointment, and promised myself to lower my a1c, despite the fact it was never even brought up at my appointment.  I think, what I have realized is that, when it comes down to it, with diabetes, you are your own doctor. You make a lot of the calls, adjustments, and ultimately it's your disease to manage. For sure, you have the support around you, and your doctors advice, but really we have so much power over our own medicine.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Web

Last spring I did a workshop with the teen girls from my support group T1 Empowerment.  The point of the workshop was to better understand the web of who is connected to our diabetes beyond ourselves, the patient.  It was an interesting task to give the girls because a lot of them struggled to see past the immediate and realize just how many people really do make up our health care web in regards to diabetes care.

what the teens came up with
I felt this was an important workshop because a lot of times when we are managing our diabetes on a daily basis we forget who else can help us along the way. We can feel swamped with numbers and emotions and forget that we can also reach out.  Not only do these people make impact on us, but we also make impact on them.

I am lucky, I have resources, while I understand very much so, that many do not have such a glamorous web to show.  I tried to in-still that in the minds of the teens who do at times struggle to keep afloat with a disease that does demand a lot from them.  

The funny thing, was that these teens almost saw these ties as an annoyance, and I totally get that. There are times that I do not want my friends telling me how to take care of my diabetes, despite their best interest, or times that I do not want my endo or nurse judging the way I have been taking care of my diabetes, but the important thing to take, is that no one in this web, is out to get you, but rather to walk the journey with you. 

This web is ever changing, growing, shrinking and that is okay. The important thing is that we recognize who is in the web and remind ourselves that they are there for us. 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Why I Quit Diet Pop

Over a year ago I quit drinking diet pop. For most people living with diabetes diet pop is a dietary staple. It's one thing we can enjoy without having to carb count, and bolus for. It's a treat without consequence, but is it really? I don't know. 

Before I had diabetes I drank a fair share of diet pop (specifically Diet Coke) I loved it and as years went by and (I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes along the way) my love for it grew stronger when I realized literally every other drink besides water would spike my blood sugar. All my friends and family knew that Diet Coke was my vice. People would tag me in memes, buy me Diet Coke and even would purchase me novelty Diet Coke things like Christmas ornaments. It somehow became my identity like a cat to cat lady - I was hooked. 

 But over a year ago I noticed something. I noticed that when I drank Diet Coke things started happening to my body that were not normal.  Hives covering my entire body, swollen lips, joints and eyes and pain to those joints as well. It was awful and I went on for years with these symptoms on and off with little to no idea what was causing it. 

I haven't had any formal testing done BUT I can tell you that once I stopped drinking Diet Coke (cold turkey) it stopped almost immediately. Trust me, I had hives everywhere and they were far from minor - they made me hate my body to the point I didn't want to go out and feared eating the wrong "mystery" thing to make them worse.  There were times I could not go out because of a giant swollen lip - although my friends encouraged me that it just looked like extreme collagen injections. Not cute. 

I had to say goodbye to the beloved silver can and break up with something I was almost depending on. Bad day, Diet Coke. Hot day, Diet Coke. Celebration day, Diet Coke.  Now a year later I'm proud of myself that I have not touched diet pop, I'm even more excited that I haven't had any joint pain, swelling or hives.  As a person living with type 1 diabetes and being "allergic" to diet pop I'm sure my fellow diabetics can sympathize.  

Regardless it leaves me with questions about what we consume and the overall consequences of those health choices we make. I'm not shaming anyone who enjoys Diet Coke, because if it wasn't for the relief of my symptoms, I'd likely be drinking a can right now. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Travel Alone

I think travelling alone at least once should be on everyones bucket list. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel alone a few times, often because of diabetes conferences.   While travelling alone can seem daunting to some, I think it's important to do at least once (or more!) and here is why:

1. You learn more about yourself and your capabilities 

Trust me when I say that when I was younger I did not want to leave my mother's side [Ask Mom!] I was constantly checking to see where she was and I am pretty sure she was about ready to seek me some professional help if I didn't grow out of my attachment issues.  Obviously, I have and [phew!] but my mom always notes how crazy it is that I went from her shadow to the globe-trotter I am now. When you are on your own and especially in a foreign place, you learn what you're comfortable doing and most importantly how far you're able to push out of your comfort zone.  It's all up to you, there is no one pushing you to take the scenic route, zip line alone though the rain forest, or take a sketchy train through Compton, that's your choice and when you choose to do something with your full power, it gives you a better understanding of yourself and your capabilities.

2. You have no other choice but to hang out with yourself or make new friends 

San Diego 2016
We all know that when we travel with friends and family we tend to hang around friends and family 24/7 during the trip, maybe not all as a group but rarely do we break off and do our own thing for a long period of time. When you travel alone you're kind of forced to either sit alone or make new friends.   Personally, I tend to sit alone, and take the time to really connect with myself - meaning that I give myself time to write, take in the scenery, tour around the city I am in or really listen to what I need. You will find you're chatting to more people around you, the waitress, the bar tender, the lady lounging by the pool,  you make friends along the way, even if only for a short period.

3. You grow up a little 

I am 26, so clearly, I've over the whole "when I grow up" but travelling keeps you humble and encourages growth and education.   I believe regardless if you're travelling alone or travelling with a friend/family member you grow and learn, but there is something different about travelling alone. Having experienced both, quite a few times, each time I come back from a trip alone, I feel like I have a better grip of reality, something that comes only from exploring alone.

Hopefully you add 'travel alone' to your bucket-list after reading this.  Of course I understand people's concerns with travelling alone - in particular safety. I have put myself in some-what [could have been] dangerous situations travelling alone, so that is a real fear, but at the same time, living in fear can be incredibly limiting.  I choose to fear less but be aware of my surroundings and learn from my mistakes [i.e don't walk around at night alone, know where you're going and your surroundings and have access to a cell phone etc.]

Would love to hear from others who have travelled alone before!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beeps & Buzzes

There is a lot of alarms, beeps and vibrations that come with diabetes.   If you are totally decked out with a new-ish meter, an insulin pump, and a CGM of some sort, then you really know a lot about beeps, alarms and vibrations.  I actually have turned off a lot of the 'sounds' and switched it to vibrate because I was getting really irritated by the sounds, of course if I am home-alone then the noise alerts (especially with CGM) are important, but for the most part the 'beeps' of diabetes drive me crazy.  

These machines, while incredibly helpful, can really be like walking around with a broken alarm clock. Usually my meter is buzzing to let me know I am high or low, or have inserted a strip, my pump is buzzing to let me know the same information, or bad news like 'low reservoir' 'low bat' or 'no delivery' and my CGM is sending more buzzing signals to my insulin pump to let me know what is happening with my blood sugar in the moment.  All kinds of buzzing.

For the most part you get used to it and you find what works for you. Some prefer to have the sound alert, while others prefer the vibrations.  Sometimes it's a matter of what will grab your attention in case of an emergency and not necessarily what you prefer and that makes sense.   Annoying or not, it comes with the choice of using the technology - so I'll take it.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One Intention

I am all for being positive, sending out positive vibes and surrounding myself with positive people but this isn't always an easy mentality to keep. We often are faced with obstacles that limit us and make it incredibly hard to see the good in the day, or the people around us. We get bombarded with negativity and finding the positive light is often fogged.

I find diabetes has a way of being that negative block in a positive day. When I wake up I have to check my blood sugar and that can really play a huge role in how I feel. If it's a great number, I often feel more motivated to get up, and continue to check my blood sugar throughout the day but if it is a higher number I feel tired, and less motivated to really take care of my diabetes in the way that I should. That morning number can really alter your mood, just like weighing yourself can have the same effect.

I think the key is to take the time to set an intention for each day. Diabetes takes a lot of brain power and effort and if we wake up and do not like our blood sugar we are more likely to feel that sense of loss of control. Instead of letting numbers (whether that is blood sugar, weight, whatever fits your situation) if we focus on one intention for the day and really put effort into that regardless of the outcome - we may have a better chance of staying focused and positive and in turn send out positive vibes to others and eventually surround ourselves with positive people.

An intention could be something simple like, "Today I will check my blood sugar four times" or something more mindful like, "Today I will think one positive thought after each negative thought that comes to mind" There is no right or wrong intention, as long as you feel like it will help you focused, and add positivity to your day. I am a big fan of taking one day at a time. For me, it's a way to keep my focus strong and also to not get anxious about the future. 


Monday, August 15, 2016


On August 11th, BD invited 14 individuals who represented a portion of the diabetes online community [DOC] to their Thought Leaders event. Some familiar faces and organizations were in attendance including Children with Diabetes, and a home-grown organization, Connected in Motion - an organization that played a significant role in my diabetes life.  There were also bloggers present including Karen Graffeo from Bitter-Sweet and  Scott Johnson from Scott's Diabetes.  Others included:

The Sugar Free Shawn Show
IronLady Anne 
My Diabetic Heart
ComedianChelcie Rice 
Close Concerns 

and of course myself, representing Kayla's Life Notes.

We were flown to beautiful San Diego, California to learn more about BD and their involvement in the diabetes realm of healthcare and beyond (way beyond) but most importantly we had the opportunity to show BD who we were as individuals living with diabetes as well as our roles in the DOC.  BD wanted to know what we wanted as patients and that was key. What that said to me was that diabetes products aren't only created with the key purpose of administrating insulin, or checking blood sugar but also to make living with diabetes easier and more comfortable.

Clearly very excited to be here! 

I was surprised to learn that BD had been around for so long. In 1924 BD made the first syringe specifically for injecting insulin which began their journey into diabetes care. How remarkable to have been there since the beginning only shortly after Sir Frederick Banting discovered insulin in London, Ontario.  Beyond the products BD also has a lot of amazing resources for those living with diabetes as well as for health care practitioners including the FITTER and Diabetes Innovations US/Canada website.

Heather (Connected in Motion) + Myself
Long time friends both living with t1d

I love to see a company interact with those that are living with type 1 diabetes and especially when they are also looking to create products to give us living with diabetes, more options.  Everyone with diabetes prefers something different, it's not a one size fit all type thing and BD gets that.  With their soon-to-be released infusion set, BD FlowSmart Technology  [available in the US and France first, then shortly after Canada] BD will be a part of the pumping game and I think that's awesome.

BD MiniMed Pro Set Infusion Sets
Group Photo
Source: Diabetes Innovations US 

Disclaimer: BD paid for my flights, travel, two nights accommodation, and meals.