Sunday, May 22, 2016

DBW: Let's Get Physical

Let's just start off with this photo:

Diabetes isn't just about what you eat.   You can avoid sugar, you can cut out carbohydrates and still deal with high blood sugar. Likewise, you can eat extra food, take less of a bolus, set a temp basal, and still end up low.   I find exercise and diabetes one of the most annoying combinations in the history of combos.   The issue is that no day is the same, I could eat the exact same thing [which I do] every morning and do the same amount of fitness [which I do] and have completely different numbers.  I think that when it comes down to it, it's about being prepared for whatever diabetes throws at you. If you're going to the gym, keep your tester near by and your low supplies close.  As much as we try to pre-plan it can be extremely difficult.

Personally, I do not go to the gym. I used to go all the time, but then I realized it wasn't practical for me and I wanted to find something that didn't stress me out, yet also kept me active. I work with children so I am constantly running around whether that is playing at the park, walking around the neighbourhood or jumping on a trampoline.  To me, this is fun, and also keeps me active, which is good enough for me.

The difficult part is that when I am active is when I am working, and since I mentioned I work with children it's so important that I make sure I am not going low and if I do go low [which happens] I make sure that I have the proper things I need to bring me back up.   If I am going for a long walk, I bring my supplies, a snack, low treatment and my debit card just in case I need to further purchase more food.

Since my exercise is based around/during my work schedule, there really is no need for added motivation. I have made it apart of my routine and it has worked out well for me.  Almost every day at work I reach over 15,000 steps before noon. It's the weekends that I slack, I do run a lot errands but not enough to classify as exercise I don't think.

All and all I have learned how important it is to find something that works for your schedule and also something that doesn't stress you out. When I had a gym membership I would stress that I didn't go often enough or that I was spending too much money on the membership.   I found that once I withdrew from that and began walking with the children and with my friends and partner, I felt much better overall and was still getting a workout in.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

DBW: My Day In Food

I actually always track my food, well at least I have been since December.  It's not some strange obsessive thing, but it is more to keep myself accountable for what I eat and how much I am eating.  I have always struggled with weight, nothing extreme, but just chasing that 'ideal' self for as long as I understood what my 'ideal' self was.

Here is a page out of the wonderful food journal, which is an old notebook from IDF Melbourne I got.

The book I am using to track my food.
May 9th 2015 

Breakfast: All Bran [2 cups]
                  Skim Milk [1/2 cup]
                  1 Banana

Snack: Popcorn [2 cups]

Lunch:  Grain Bread [2 slices]
              Black Forest Ham slices
              Greek Yogurt

Snack: Granola Bar
             Baby Bell Cheese

Dinner:  Quinoa Chicken Fingers [3]
                Beets [1 cup]
                Apple Sauce [1/2 cup]

I often try to stick to 1200 calories and under and frankly, lately I have been a bit more off because I have had so many lows, but dealing with diabetes and food can be difficult. It is hard to find balance between eating healthy, not being obsessed, and making sure that you are also giving yourself a break.


Friday, May 20, 2016

DBW: Tips and Tricks

Living with diabetes for over seven years now, I have found some ways to easily navigate my life and diabetes without totally having a mental breakdown. Working full time, having a decent social life and living with diabetes is a lot of work.  If we spend too much time focusing on our diabetes we may miss out on a lot, so having tips and tricks to make life easier is always great.

Diabetes comes with a lot of STUFF. I literally two clear plastic drawer stands that are filled with diabetes supplies.  I keep these in my closet and it keeps everything organized and together.  This makes site changes a lot easier because I know where everything is and how to access it. Also, if anyone else needs to get something for me, it's pretty laid out as to where everything is.

I will admit, I do not measure my food. It takes up a lot of time and I am very much a 'right now' type of person.  However, for things that I eat often, I use the same bowls/cups so that I know where to fill it.  This is super easy, because most people have a full dinnerware set with all the same bowls, plates etc. So once you measure your cereal once, and know where in the bowl it lines up to, then you know approximately the serving size.   This obviously isn't as accurate as actually measuring out your food, but it's just something that has made my meal times a bit less annoying.

I recently wrote about travel and diabetes. In the post I mention a couple tips and tricks for traveling and diabetes such as I always keep my diabetes bag packed.  It has everything in it I need (minus insulin) and I just restock it once I return from a trip. I always pack double, perhaps triple the amount that I need. This travel bag keeps it all together and one less thing to worry about when packing my other things. 

Overall I wouldn't say I have discovered anything miraculous, but I do think that individually we find life hacks that make dealing with diabetes easier. Some work for others while others are a complete fail. We are all different, living different lifestyles and how great is it when we find something that works perfectly for us while making life that much easier! 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

DBW: The Healthcare Experience

Healthcare in Canada is a bit different versus the United States for example. It also varies province to province in Canada, so I will specifically speak to where I am from, Ontario, Canada.

In Ontario, those living with type 1 diabetes can be eligible for an insulin pump + supplies which are fully funded by the government.  Depending on what pump you choose, you may have to fork some money out of pocket for extra costs, but regardless, you have the funds of $200.00 a month to buy your supplies.  We have four different pumps available in Canada, Medtronic, Animas, Omnipod and Accuchek. This program is called Assistive Device Program (ADP) I am on this program, so my insulin pump, and supplies are fully covered by the Ontario Government as long as I meet all the requirements at my appointments, things such as checking blood sugar 4x a day etc.

What I do not have coverage for is insulin and test strips. This is because I do not have a job with benefits [I am self employed] so, those expenses are out of pocket for me. Thankfully, insulin is relatively affordable approximately $36.00 a vial [which from talking to my American friends, this is much cheaper] the tests strips vary but are usually just under $1.00 a piece.  There are programs out there to help with the cost of insulin and strips for those that need the help.

Overall, I am thankful for the care that I receive in Ontario.  I have attended two Young Leaders in Diabetes programs and have talked to many people who live in countries that do not have access to insulin. It has given me a much bigger appreciation for access.  Yes, it's $40 out of my pocket every two weeks or so, but I cannot imagine not having the option to purchase insulin.

My healthcare team in my city is great. My nurse also has type 1, so that makes my appointments less stressful than when I had a non-type 1 nurse. I have had my fair share of diabetes clinic experiences. I feel that where I am at now is a great guiding experiences and I am very thankful for them.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DBW: Language and Diabetes

Tester, Poker, & Strips
I have always called myself a diabetic.  There are times when I have said person with diabetes, but not about myself, usually in situations where I know the person I am with prefers that term. I understand why people do not like calling themselves 'diabetics' but at the same time, to me, I am diabetic. I am also a girl, and a Canadian and a sister and a daughter.  These are all tags that are associated with me. Does it mean that I am ALL Canadian that's it eh? No. But, everyone has their preferences, and I get for professional reasons, 'a person with diabetes' is probably the most PC way to go about addressing someone living with diabetes.

There is a ton of lingo that those living or caring for someone with diabetes use. It even variates in the diabetes community. For instance when I need to take insulin for my food, I say 'bolus'  example, "I need to bolus for that ice cream!" But, that's pump talk, most people who are on injections wouldn't likely say 'bolus.'  For other things such as when I check my blood sugar, I use the word 'check' versus 'test' although I think sometimes I switch it up.  

I call my meter my 'meter,' or 'tester' the lancet, a poker and the test strips,' test strips'  If I am low, I say that I am 'treating a low' and if I need something when I am low, I say, 'I need sugar!' 

There are things I am sure I say that the average public has no idea what I am talking about, but that's part of the inclusive diabetes club, we come with a whole slew of different words and variations and while we may not all agree on some, at least we usually know what one another are talking about.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DBW: The Other Half of Diabetes

This topic screams out to me unlike no other.  Kind of like my mind when I am completely acting like a fool because of uncontrolled blood sugars.  I must admit right from the beginning of diagnosis I can recall 'rage' like moments where I totally lost control of my emotions and threw them at the people that I love.  Still, I have those same moments, all the while my mind {the part that has common sense} is shouting, "YOU'RE BEING UNREASONABLE."

I have gotten angry over someone asking me a basic question. I have slammed chairs, I have name called and I have completely shut out the people that love me.   I hate blaming diabetes for things, I really do, but the more I talk to others about these issues, the more I realize, I am not alone. I can only assume because this was a chosen topic for Diabetes Blog Week, that many others are dealing with mental stress.
Barbados 2015 - In my happy place 

I think that my family, friends and partner know that diabetes comes with the good, bad and ugly in regards to moods. But, I think that it is extremely difficult for them to understand why, especially for my partner M, who I have only been with for just shy of two years.  It's hard for me to explain my emotions, and when I am feeling defeated with it all, I tend to shut him out completely, making things uncomfortable for both him and I.   Diabetes doesn't always make sense to me, so how could it possibly make sense for someone who doesn't have diabetes, and has only known someone for two years with diabetes.

Recently M sent me a great article about managing anxiety/stress. While I feel like I may dip into those things every once and awhile, especially in relation to weather. [I need to live on a beach full of sunshine].  The article was pretty straight forward, and the gesture alone with great. Sometime it isn't as easy as taking a deep breath, but at this point, I'd try it all.   Deep breath, downward dog, glass of water, extra sleep, big smile and a hug.   Whatever it takes to keep my mood in balance just as well as my blood sugars.

I have recently tried, self talk. Simply asking myself, 'what is wrong?' 'what is bugging you?' 'what do you need right now?' 'is this urgent?' 'can you not say anything?' 'do you need to say those mean things and make everyone mad at you?' It doesn't always work. Sometimes I end up saying the things regardless or doing the actions I just told myself not to do, but there are times when it does work and I am much more pleasant to be around. I still think the best way to deal with it would to be live on a sunny beach, but that isn't as affordable as self talk.

My hope is that not only can I better control my mental stress due to my diabetes but also help my partner and family and friends better understand what I am dealing with and how hard I am trying to make things better.


Monday, May 16, 2016

DBW: Message Monday

After I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2009, I started writing 'notes' on Facebook. A feature that I am not sure Facebook even offers anymore. Regardless, I wrote these notes as a way to communicate with my friends and family what I had been going though the past little while.  I was learning just as much as they were, and I needed a place to put it.   I realized that people were responding well to my notes and the journey that I had unwillingly entered. I was told that I should turn my notes into a blog and it was by far one of the best advice I have ever been given.

October 13th - Brantford Expositor

The blog to me is my diabetic therapy, it gives me a place to put down my experiences and raw
emotions and in return get the feedback or comfort I need.  Sometimes it isn't about the audience, and really just a place to clear my head. Regardless, I knew that having started a blog more than seven years ago has taught me a lot about who I am and has also given me a very real timeline of how I have handled diabetes up until now.

Today is about the message, what message do I want send out? What do I want to accomplish with the blog?   I want to give those living with diabetes peace of mind. There is way too much worry in this world.  We worry about our health, our safety and our finances and we worry about our children, our parents and our country.  But, what pulls us out of that worry is sharing, talking, and really connecting with those around us.  Community is huge and to be apart of such an amazing community, the diabetes online community, has helped me deal with my worry in so many ways.  

I also feel that in the diabetes blogging community we play a huge role in education.  We may not be qualified dieticians or endocrinologists, but we are living with diabetes 24/7.  Having a blog gives us an opportunity to open the window inside the life of diabetes and show people who may not live with diabetes, what life is like.   Having a diabetes blog to me, allows me to share apart of my life that many people do not see or realize.  


Friday, May 13, 2016

Candy Saves

Going low is part of the diabetes experience. My first low blood sugar happened in Mexico while on vacation. I don't remember much except explaining how I felt to my Uncle who had type 1 and him explaining what I needed to do. The funny thing about a low is that you become someone you're not...or at least a person you don't recognize. You make bad choices, you have no limits, you make no sense. There is something weird about having a low blood sugar, like being drunk, but having absolutely no fun.
Yesterday I had an awful low blood sugar. The lowest I have ever been in my life.  1.4 mmol/L and for my American friends that's 25 mg/dl.   A few quick thoughts went through my head during this low, "OH SHIT" and "I LOVE CANDY"  As I ate my twizzlers I grew this deep love for it.  It was like I was falling in love. See, what low does to the mind?   I honestly, just started to appreciate the makeup of candy and how it can actually save my life.    I believe I even thought about writing to the candy company to let them know they saved my life, you know all the important things that were rushing through my head as my blood sugar plummeted.

I got some weird sensations that I haven't had before and I can only assume it's because I have never dipped into the 1's.  My body was growing numb, first it was my butt, then my hands. It was like they weren't even there.  After that I started to get a weird tingly in my mouth, I actually thought that maybe I was having an allergic reaction.   I hadn't washed my hands yet from after work, and I had been playing at the park and on the grass. But after talking to another t1, it seems that she also gets that sensation when really low.

It felt like it took me an hour to settle after that low.  I felt disoriented and like I was being rushed around, yet moving still.  I text my boyfriend to let him know that I had just experienced my lowest low, and he made sure that I was okay. Living alone, it's up to me to save me, that is why I love my CGM, which I had just taken off the night previous.  

Eventually my sugar came back up, and I was able to continue on with my day, already missing half my 'break' in my day and having to head back to work.  Finding the balance of managing diabetes is hard, there is a scale and it's hard not to teeter on one side or another.


Thursday, May 12, 2016


my journal that I keep in my nightstand...
with a million lip balms
Ever since I was young I loved writing. Any kind of creative writing was my thing.  I wrote pages and pages of fiction and dreamed [and still dream] of publishing my own books that mark the shelves of a local book store.  When I wasn't writing the stories of imaginary made up characters, I was journaling, or at a young age, it's more about dishing the gossip in the form of a diary. This was a therapeutic way of getting through those rough awkward years of elementary school when everything seems awful, exciting and unfair.

Now that I am older and have less gossip or at least less direct gossip,  I have found other ways to express my love for journaling and put it to better use instead of rating the top ten boys in my grade seven class. Of course, I have this very blog. It has been such a great outlet for me and while it's mainly diabetes, there are components of the rest of my life scattered throughout.

The other thing that I absolutely love is hand-written journal [I know, old school] called Q&A a day. This is a three year journal that asks you a question each day. You go through the book three times [three years] and you get to reflect back on your past answers. Some answers end up being exactly the same while others are way off.  This journal is something I have full on stuck to! I am 1.5 years in, and I absolutely love reading my past answers and realizing sometimes how much can change in one full year.  For anyone that loves to journal, I highly suggest it, and for anyone who likes the idea of journaling but doesn't have much time commitment to do so, I suggest it as well. It's only 1 question a day and you can write as much or as little as you want!

To me, expressing my feelings via writing is really helpful. I know everyone is different, but there is something about the creation of a paragraph, phrase, quote, story, that really makes me happy.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Diabetes Blog Week

Next week I will be participating in the 7th Annual Diabetes Blog Week and I am really excited to be a part of something so cool!  I have been blogging since 2009, just a few days after my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. I love when people in the diabetes community create something that brings us all together and because I love blogging, Diabetes Blog Week is something I fully support. I look forward to reading all the other posts, although there are a ton of people participating so it may be a Diabetes Blog Month.

Looking forward to sharing all of my thoughts on each daily topic!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easy Or Not

Those that are newly diagnosed often ask "Does it get easier?" and that is a tough question to answer. When I was first diagnosed I was thrown into a world that I knew nothing about.  I went from eating carelessly to counting carbohydrates, something I had never even looked for or cared about.  Now I can't imagine not caring about carbohydrates.   I remember going into the pharmacy after discharge and ordering a whole slew of prescriptions. The pharmacist tested me as he handed me my new things, asking me what each one was.

"A meter? test strips? ketone strips? insulin?"

 Upon returning home, I began measuring out my food. I remember counting out 44 frozen french fries and putting them out on the tray and filling my glass up 'until it hit the red mark' so that I knew how much milk I was drinking. It was pretty tedious, and time consuming and while that does make for great carbohydrate counting, for me those nit-picky-first-diagnosed habits gradually changed into more time saving ones.  

So yes, managing diabetes in some ways becomes easier. I say that in the most lightest way because there are moments [sometimes days, months ... ] that diabetes is not easier than it was when I was diagnosed. There are times when I will readily admit I have no idea what I am doing and throw in the towel or meter in this case.  But, like anything, over time diabetes becomes apart of us whether we invite in welcomely or not. There are things in the beginning of diagnosis that will seem like a big deal, then months down the line seem like nothing.

I will stand by the fact that talking to others with diabetes is a great way to make diabetes a bit easier. There is something about chatting with a group of people that know exactly how you feel.  It's the little things that make it seem easier or at least give you some quick inspiration to keep pushing forward.


Thursday, May 5, 2016


Sleeping with an insulin pump becomes second nature, but I often wonder if I didn't have a pump, would I get a better sleep?  Wait, not just a pump, if I didn't have diabetes would I get a better sleep? Yes 100%. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. I'll be sleeping with diabetes for awhile I am sure... but in the meantime, I want to write about what it is like to get a nights rest while living with type 1 diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed my friend Mitch who also has type 1 and a pump told me to just let the pump roll around with me in bed.  The first night I tried that, I tied myself up like a cowboy on a train track and decided that that was not for me.  So, I started clipping it to my pajamas and I would adjust it as I moved around in my sleep. At first, it was difficult to get used to having this hard small brick in my bed with me, that was attached to my stomach.  I would get it stuck and twisted, and would wake up with the marks on my body from where the pump was lodged in my sleep. But now, 6 years later, the insulin pump is like my third arm, something that I barely notice in my sleep.

While I am sure I don't physically notice the pump anymore in my sleep, I am sure I am disturbing my sleep making myself comfortable adjusting my pump with each toss and turn I make in bed. I have gotten to the point where I do not clip it to anything and let it roam around my bed with me. (I am finally at the stage that Mitch was at when I first got my pump.) There have been a couple times I have some how ripped it out in my sleep, but that is less than a few times in the 6 years I have been pumping.

Beyond the pumping and sleeping, there are symptoms of both high and low blood sugars that interrupt a person with diabetes sleep. For example, high blood sugars often make a person have to use the washroom a lot.  So, usually in the night depending on my blood sugar I am having to get up and pee, which of course disrupts my sleep.  The other thing is low blood sugars, which are awful in general but especially in the night. This requires me to wake myself up fully, check my blood sugar and find treatment via snack/glucose.   All of this adds up and by the time the alarm goes off, sometimes it takes all the energy I can grasp to get up and carry on with the day, still having to deal with the diabetes that kept me up all night.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Irrational Feelings

Ocean in Cuba 2016
Diabetes isn't just about the highs and lows of blood sugar. It also is about the highs and lows of moods.  I haven't met a single diabetic that hasn't had diabetes effect their mood. Even if it's a symptom of a high or low, being moody and having diabetes seems to go hand in hand.

When I was partially still living at home [between school years] I can recall my mom always telling me to check my sugar because I was in a rage, like a tornado tearing its path.  I would slam the chairs in, scream at my mom, dad or brother and would really just have no control over how I felt.  I knew in my mind that I was being irrational but I literally could not stop. Unfortunately, this wave of emotions hasn't stopped.

There are times when I am totally being irrational, and my poor boyfriend takes the hit.   I get stand-offish, mean and stubborn. I resist comfort, help and dare anyone ask me to check my blood sugar. I know it has to do with regulation of blood sugar, going really high or low, and especially if it's rapidly dropping.  The sad part is the fact that I am aware that my emotions are irrational, yet I cannot seem to flick the switch until my blood sugar is stable and I've had something to eat.

Hangry is a real thing, hunger & anger go hand in hand. But, the issue is that it's not always easy to explain that to the ones we are hurting when we are in a mood of 'no-reason.'  I have made a plan in to try to re-direct those feelings when I cannot control myself and they mainly involve taking a time-out. I realize that taking a time-out can appear as disconnect, but at the same time, I can't imagine coping any other way when I am having a hard time. I at least know that taking a time out is better than saying things that I would regret or behaving in a way that is out of character.

I am in an incredible battle with diabetes. I am thankful yet full of hate of the disease.  It has taken over my life in so many ways, both good and bad and that can be a lot of weight on ones shoulder.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016


There is a lot of focus on stigma and diabetes. The focus around stigma and diabetes is usually in regards to what diabetes looks like  as well as placing blame on the person living with diabetes.  

The issue is that we do not have a clear reason for the cause of diabetes, especially in the type 1 population. While some type 2 patients have clear reasoning towards their diagnosis, many type 1's are left feeling a disconnect because some of us living with type 1 have had no genetic reasonings and were diagnosed at an age where little to nothing could have affected their health.

There is incredible stigma around those living with diabetes and those that are at risk for diabetes.  Society loves to joke about diabetes and I have talked about this before.  The problem isn't the jokes, the problem is the miscommunication.  You cannot define what a cancer patient looks like, and you cannot define what a person living with diabetes looks like.

JDRF launched a campaign called, T1D Looks Like Me  and I think it's a wonderful way to showcase those living with diabetes, although I know there have been people exposing what t1d looks like for years - so not a new idea. But, nonetheless it took off and many people were turning their Facebook into a great campaign to highlight how diverse type 1 diabetes is.   This type of effort can help break the stigma of those living with diabetes, unfortunately more-so for those that are living with type 1 diabetes not type 2 (a population that could use a boost of support, in my opinion).

While that JDRF campaign highlights how we all physically do not look alike, it doesn't really highlight how we got where we are today.  A lot of people are quick to ask how I got diabetes, and to be honest, I have no idea. No one told me, and I've never asked.  I know in my genealogy there were two type 1's in the family, and because I know of the nature of type 1, I know that I didn't physically do anything to cause my diabetes. But, oh the remarks, people love to point a finger.

I think the diabetes community is doing a very good job at making sure all are felt comfortable and connected within the diabetes community, but we need to do more to expand that knowledge beyond us, so that no one feels the stigma of diabetes.  

Stigma is defined as:

nounplural stigmata 
 [stig-muh-tuh, stig-mah-tuh, -mat-uh(Show IPA), 
a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation.



Monday, May 2, 2016

Never Too Late

People always say it's never too late.  For example, when someone in the mid fifties decides that they've always wanted to open a bake shop, people will happily say, "Oh, Jan, It's never too late!"  And that's true, Jan could totally go take out a loan, find the perfect little store, bake some baked goods and start a new career in her mid fifties, it may be tough but it's not too late. But, as much as good things can start late, bad things can start later too.
Summer 2015

Growing up, I didn't really have many medical issues, I did have asthma, but it was barely anything to worry about and I did have some mystery hives every now and then, that to this day still haunt me in my adulthood sometimes. Regardless, I was a pretty healthy child who didn't see myself getting into too much.   Lone and behold, a diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, that completely changed my life in more ways than I can count.  It wasn't too late for diabetes to strike me at age eighteen, I wasn't in the clear once I became an 'adult' of a disease that often haunts the lives of many, many children.

But, my diabetes diagnosis isn't what made me think that "it's never too late" is actually a terrifying expression.  It is incredibly easy to get cozy in our lives.  Feel like everything is slowly coming together (another common phrase) We may have a decent chunk of money in our bank accounts, a great partner or a wonderful social group for weekend plans, but the reality is that time is precious (and another phrase) and it's never too late for things to turn.

This really isn't the most cheery of posts on a Monday, but it really has made me think about how one should approach life.  I know as I get older, more and more things become evident. I realize that people don't live forever, and dogs do not either. I have realized that relationships come to ends, and sometimes someone you've talked to endless, no longer can care.  I have learned that looking 'cool' is way less cool than feeling comfortable and warm. And the biggest thing that is evident is that the days are quick, and if we aren't present for those days, what a waste.

Just because I have diabetes, doesn't make me invincible to other things. I think of my friend C, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, while still trying to navigate type 1 diabetes.  It's never too late to get these things, there are no exceptions to people. While this is a scary thought, we have to look at both sides, back to Jan and her bake shop.  It is NEVER TOO LATE to start, begin, try, do something that you love.  It is never too late to embrace yourself and what you've accomplished and really, really enjoy every single day, because we just do not know what the future holds.