Sunday, July 31, 2016

He Knows

Anyone who knows me, knows that my dog, Cola means the world to me. And anyone who knows Cola, knows that he has a very interesting little personality on him. He loves TV, he loves Facetiming and he poses quite well for photos. But, one thing I am starting to notice is that perhaps he also knows when I am low.

Now, Cola is trained but to a minimal. He obviously knows to sit, go to the door to go outside & pee and all the basics of dog training. I have never trained him to do anything diabetes related as far as alert me when I am low etc. But I am starting to notice that Cola always seems to wake me up when I am low or at least assist me when I am low and maybe it is just a fluke, but regardless it makes me smile.

Cola keeping me company when I was low
I do not rely on this method of care. I often feel my lows but sometimes when I wake up low I'll sit and stew over it for awhile before I take action (that's my low brain working at a minimal level). In the past year Cola has been the one to either pounce on me, or come up to the bed and wake me up by barking or jumping on top of me, and every time I have been low. Majority of the time I knew I was low but was stewing over it, and as soon as Cola drew attention to it, I decided to as well.

Last night I was in bed and woke up because I felt low. I have had a lot of lows in the night, but I was just so exhausted I laid there and thought about how I was feeling. Just then Cola appeared who was downstairs watching TV with M. He didn't jump on the bed to sleep but rather came up alongside the bed and pushed his face against me.

"Okay Cola, I'll go check."

I came downstairs, Cola happily trotting behind me and checked 3.0 mmol/L. I couldn't believe it and even M was amazed at how Cola abruptly left him to go check on me. And maybe he wasn't, but it's hard to overlook such a fluke.

Regardless what this says to me is that dogs can sense our energy and they're such amazing creatures. I'm happy Cola is checking up on me, and almost always sitting with me while I treat myself. He has kept me company many of nights while I stuffed my face with peanut butter and apples, yet never begging for a piece.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why I Booked an Eye Appointment

Appointments make me anxious. I often avoid booking them, if I can. I get nervous about being critiqued and also hearing bad news. I mean, the whole experience  in 2009 of being at an appointment alone, hearing I have diabetes has given me some dread of hearing what professionals have to say.  I have had many appointments with specialist (my whole hives issue for many years) and all had a different opinions and  some scary ones too. So, let's just say unless it's mandated, I avoid appointments.

So, the whole eye doctor appointment was not in my to-do list. I guess I should say it kind of was, but I was pretending it wasn't. I should go to the eye doctor once a year, just as a precaution to make sure my eyes are in good health. It has been just over a year and I have avoided the eye doctor. Why? Because of course I'm anxious about it. I am anxious about doing the tests, I am anxious about the stupid eye drops that burn, and I am anxious about hearing bad news.

I have worn glasses since grade 7, so about 14 years ago. It started off for seeing far away, like the black board etc. Then of course it got worse and now I wear glasses all the time, well I should say contacts. I wear contacts all the time.   So vision issues have been my thing for awhile and I am pretty dependent on them, my perscriptjon is 5.50. So without my glasses/contacts I am pretty much seeing blurred colours. But other than that, I have not noticed any issues with my eyes.

However, my fear is that something worse will be wrong with my eyes and so I just avoided making the call to the optometrist. BUT, after talking to a friend who has had diabetes for awhile now and is having issues with her eyes and taking preventative medicine for it, I started to ask myself: "would you rather help prevent issues now? Or wait until it is too late?" And that is when I picked up the phone and made the call for an appointment, which is next week.

Sometimes things are hard to do but once they're done, it's a relief. While going to this appointment is going to make me anxious, I know that avoiding going is much worse.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Max Domi
Yesterday I was invited to an event in Toronto, Ontario at Evergreen Brick Works to watch as professional NHL hockey player Max Domi launched the Accuracy Coach program which is a new feature of Contour Next's Powered by Accuracy Campaign by Ascensia Diabetes Care.    The event was packed with children  and their families and it was an excellent venue to have children getting active as well as connect with one another over a disease we all know very well, type 1 diabetes.

Max Domi is a Canadian NHL player who plays for the Arizona Coyotes and who also happens to live with type 1 diabetes.   I had the privilege of meeting Max Domi a few years ago in London, as he played for the London Knights, an OHL team. It is outstanding to see how far he has come since then and especially in regards to his involvement in the diabetes community.

Stretching with the kids before their activities

Domi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 and he has proven that his diagnosis does not limit him from achieving his goals. You could tell that all the aspiring athletes in the crowd were in awe of Max Domi as he spoke about achieving whatever you set out to do whether that is a hockey player like him, a dancer, baseball player etc.  His impact on the children with diabetes will likely be more than he will ever know.  He's an inspiring person, there is no doubt about that.

The Powered by Accuracy Campaign is made up of many important resources and tools for those that are looking to incorporate fitness into their lifestyle while managing diabetes.  Let's face it, exercise and diabetes is not easy, but having amazing resources such as Powered by Accuracy, those looking to get the most out of their fitness and diabetes, have that opportunity.

The website is made up of a lot of different resources including videos of professionals giving their educated input. On there, I see familiar faces such as Mike Riddell, who I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with in 2013. Another inspiring face is Dessi Zarahrieva, who is a MMA fighter and also lives with type 1 diabetes.

This event proved that community, education and activity is key in the success of diabetes and I look forward to exploring Powered by Accuracy even more, to learn how I can better my fitness along with better management of my diabetes.

Check out the website to find out more about Ascensia's amazing campaign: Powered By Accuracy Campaign


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Accu-Chek Aviva Connect

Recently I was given the opportunity to try the Accu-Chek Aviva Connect meter by Roche Diabetes. I was given twenty strips, so I used the meter until I ran out of strips, which ended up being three days, as a couple of the strips went to waste due to not enough blood.

Accu-Chek Aviva Connect

Overall the meter was great.  This meter connects with your smart phone. The benefit to that is it allows you to test and keep track of all of your blood sugars, carbs, as well as any other points you want to track throughout the day. This includes weight, meal size, insulin dosage and you can even include photos of the meals you have had.  All of this is accessible to view from your smart phone. 

Things I loved about the Accu-Chek Aviva Connect: 

+ easy setup  | I do not like complicated. If I can't set something up in minutes, I have lost interest and given up. This was super easy to set up. You basically just download an app, put in a code and you're good to go! From that point on, anytime you check your blood sugar it appears on your smartphone in the app.

+ organized | The app and overall meter is very organized and easy to understand and use.  All of the settings and menus make sense. 

+ helpful | having the blood sugars automatically go to your phone makes things easier to understand and manage.  I am able to look at my numbers in more clear and understanding way. The app also gives you options to view as a logbook, graph or statistics or table.  I was amazed at the distance in which the phone and meter could transfer blood sugars.

Things I didn't love so much about the Accu-Chek Connect:

+ big strips/lots of blood | At first I saw the strips and thought, 'oh my gosh these are ginormous!' and they are.  However, they started to grow on me, especially when having lows. They were ginormous but also super easy to handle, however, I did notice that compared to the meter I use on a regular basis, these strips are more particular about the blood you give, and how much.  I wasted a couple strips because I did not fill them enough.

+ information overload | This isn't so much a dislike, but rather the fact that all of the information that this app lets you use, I likely would not fill in. While I like the idea of tracking all things, I doubt that I would take full advantage of this meter, as I do not have the time to write down everything I eat, do, inject etc.  However, I believe there are people out there that would love the idea of micro-managing their diabetes care! 

This meter is a success in my books and I must admit, I love how technology is moving forward in diabetes to better suit the busy lives of those living with the disease. I can see myself using this meter from the mere fact that I can easily view my blood sugar trends rather than having to scroll through the actual meter or go through the process of manually uploading my meter. 


* Disclaimer *  I was given the Accu-Chek Connect meter and strips & also received compensation for using the meter. 

Monday, July 25, 2016


So, after getting my last a1c, which was a lousy, 8.4% I have been cracking the whip on myself to do better.  While many keep reassuring me that it is just a number, I know that if I keep thinking that way I will end up with a ginormous number, and let's be honest, then it becomes a lot more than just a number.

I have been checking my blood sugar A LOT and by A LOT I mean at least 13-15 times a day. I am required by the Ontario Government (ADP) to check four times a day - it's a part of their regulations to fund my insulin pump, so let's just say Canadian Government, I am obeying the rules plus some.   Some might say I am obsessing and I won't deny it.  I scared the crap out of myself by getting back that awful blood work, and I promised myself that I would get it down.

Actually, I first promised myself I would just keep checking like mad every day and then realized, how many days are in a year and how many years I will likely have diabetes and I got really overwhelmed. So I have tried to reassure myself that just 'TODAY' I am checking like mad.  It's basically like the placebo way of getting me feeling better about my diabetes and life sentence that comes with it.

Checking a lot means a few things, better control, better understanding, more test strips all over the place and really seeing how carbs affect my blood sugar.    So, I will admit, my diabetes care comes in waves, and for most of the time I am guessing.  Guessing leads to tsunami blood sugars, if we are sticking with the ocean theme.   It means that I would look at something, guess the carbs, give myself insulin and carry on, most of the time without checking what my blood sugar was, because guessing was my thing.

Today when I was checking like mad, giving proper insulin dosages, and even giving insulin ahead of time to let it 'work' I noticed how I can easily keep my blood sugars in range without the awful spike.  I was also mainly eating low carb, as that is another thing I promised myself I would try 'TODAY'     All day I did an amazing job, if I do say so myself. By the time I got home, M and I built a bed frame [Mainly M did the work] and we didn't feel like cooking.  We just had some crackers and dip and those crackers spiked my blood sugar like no other.  I realized how insanely sensitive my body is to carbs. I began to wonder, was it always this way, but I didn't notice because I was guessing?  Who knows, but it makes me hate carbs. More of a love hate relationship, because who could hate a doughnut - not this girl.


Sunday, July 24, 2016


It's been six years since I started on my Medtronic insulin pump, meaning I have racked up over 52,000+ hours on this.  Tethered to my stomach, lower back, arms or legs, I carry my pump with me everywhere I go. The only place it is left behind is on the bathroom counter as I take a shower or in my beach bag as I take a dip in the water.   Other than that, my insulin pump has been on all kinds of adventures, from 19,341 feet high on Mount Kilimanjaro to the white sand beaches of Barbados.

When I decided to go on an insulin pump I was unsure about my choice. I feared that my freedom would be gone. I would forever be stuck to a box controlling me, and preventing me from doing things that I love.  While I must admit I have had my moments of anger towards my pump, overall this pump has given me a lot more freedom and if anything has given me more opportunities than I ever could have imagined. I appreciate the technology and hard work that goes into diabetes care. Not that long ago people were given one option, syringes.  Now we have amazing insulin pumps that work alongside great technology like wireless meters, and continuous glucose monitors.  For someone who travels often, the insulin pump has been one of the biggest tools in my success in diabetes management.

While the six years seem to have flown by, it's hard to imagine myself without my pump. My pump has become a part of my body and at that, a very helpful tool for me.   I know that technology is headed in the right direction for those living with diabetes and I look forward to the future and to the many more adventures my pump will travel!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Raise Us Up

I want a cure as much as the next girl but can we just stop for a minute and think about the "right now."  Think about the teens that are battling with their parents over not checking enough.  Think about the women with diabetes that want to get pregnant but are being told no constantly because their control isn't good enough. Stop and think about the child who is crying and screaming at their mother whose trying to put a new site on them.  This is a huge issue that is getting neglected.

We need money. We need money to find a "cure" and we need money to at least discover easier ways to manage diabetes. But we don't need money to help our diabetes community cope. I was really struggling the other night. I had just found out my a1c which is 8.4% and I was mad at myself. I sat at the end of my bed, alone, trying to cope. I was about to go to bed, but I needed to relax my mind. I tried to think about the positives but all the negatives kept pushing through. It was when M walked in that I broke down.  "I hate diabetes. Why do I have to have diabetes?"  The pain grew deeper as I began ranting about complications. "I am going to die. All these opportunities are amazing but they won't be any good when I'm blind, leg less or dead."

M hugged me. I felt so weak. Me, the diabetes guru, the inspirational woman who somehow climbed Kilimanjaro. The thing is, I don't often speak about how diabetes makes me feel. I really am excellent at amping it up and I don't think that's always a bad thing, but what is bad is that when my pot boils over, it floods.   It took a solid 30 minutes for M to calm me down and reassure me that I'll be O.K. He asked how he can help, and really the only thing I could say was, "make sure I check my blood sugar!"

The support continued as I had asked the Type 1 Diabetes Meme page for words of advice and the community lifted me up, just like M did the night before.  The support continued with my diabetes friends who wrote me messages, sent me photos of their highs and gave me motivation to keep going, day by day, I'm not alone. And guess what, all of this support was free and incredibly helpful.

The issue is that a lot of people neglect seeking help or offering help. Helping is exhausting and can be difficult and asking for help can be embarrassing and overwhelming. But, it really is just about asking and listening from both ends. You take what you need and you leave what you don't want. Ultimately I think it's so important.  I try to be that support for the people in my life and in specific the teens from my t1 empowerment group.

Of course a cure would be outstanding and new technology is incredibly amazing, but sometimes I think we get caught up in raising money and forget who we are raising money for. If we spent the same amount of effort raising those with diabetes as we did raising funds I think those that are battling diabetes would feel just that much better.

Special thank you to people like Mike, Mariam, Dani, Amber and Sally who raised me up this week.


Friday, July 22, 2016

You're the Coach

Diabetes isn't a competition, but sometimes it sure as hell feels like it.   

I should clarify, I am not competing against someone else, I am competing against myself. We are all competing against ourselves when we are diagnosed with diabetes because there is a fine line between, I caused this, and I didn't cause this but I need to do something about it.  You know, like when you're babysitting and the child spills milk everywhere, and you know you didn't do anything to make the milk spill all over the tile floor, but it needs to get mopped up.  The kid isn't going to mop it up, you are. That's your job.   Like, diabetes is your job, you need to take care of it.  

Diabetes is like the milk on the ground, except as much as you mop it up, somehow it always reappears.  You could have the strongest sippy cup in the nation, but milk is going to spill.    I have awesome days with diabetes, I keep my cool, my blood sugars appear to be co-operating, but then just as I get comfortable, I am slammed with a high blood sugar.  I know why usually. Usually, I forgot to bolus, or I didn't carb count properly. There are times where I am also unsure of what went wrong. I didn't feel like I did anything wrong to deserve the high or low, but regardless, something must be done. 

Almost  as much as the amount of time I think about, "I am hungry, you don't need to eat." I am also obsessing over what my control is like with my diabetes. Is it average? Am I failing myself? When is the last time I checked my blood sugar? Do I even care?  And when I do check I am judging whether or not it's good, or bad or asking myself why I let it get to a certain number. 

"Kayla, why didn't you just focus at breakfast and give a proper bolus! Pull it together woman!" 

I am like my own awful coach who constantly yells at myself for dropping the ball.  

I am literally competing against myself to try and be better, but at the same time giving up. It's a bit ridiculous.   I feel as though this disease has so many different aspects to it, than as one single person, it's hard to figure out the best way to handle it all, and I guess that is why many of us with diabetes do feel that competition within ourselves. That nasty coach voice yelling at us to run faster, pass the ball and pay attention.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blood Work

Part of diabetes is getting blood work. And, I'll be honest. I suck at getting blood work done. It's not that I am anxious about getting it done, but more so the fact of actually making the time to get it done. I have good intentions, I want to know my a1c just as much as my doctor does, however almost always I am scrambling at the last minute to get blood work done before my appointment. This time I sort of messed up, as my blood work sheet was good for 4 months. Basically I was supposed to go three times and I went once. Opps!

Now, besides actually physically showing up for blood work, I do get anxious about the actual result, not the needles. Getting blood work is basically like taking off your spanx. (I don't actually wear spanx but it seems like a good analogy). When you get blood work, you are exposing it all. Doctors, nurses and of course you, see what really is going on. Like spanx hide the imperfections, once it's off, it's all there, by "its" I mean your body, and all the things you try to hide or smooth over.    Getting your a1c checked shows all those little bumps... The only thing in your favour with your a1c is that if you're prone to lots of lows it can skew the results - I've heard.   I doubt that will be an issue for me.

Then there is the waiting game. The blood clinic I go to has online results posted within 24 hours. So I can basically be my own doctor and judge myself within 24 hours. I used to have to call my family doctor to find out the results inwhich they would always tell me I have diabetes. Which would come by total shock, me? Diabetes? No way.  Now, I avoid that awkward, "I already have diabetes" conversation behind and check in the comfort of my own house.

My endo is very easy going, I assume it is because I am a pretty competent, and compliant patient. Besides the getting regular blood work part, but hey, we can't all be perfect.  I don't feel as nervous going to her, to go over my results and get advice, but I know a lot of people that do get anxious and it's really unfortunate. As a person with diabetes you're constantly under pressure. If it isn't from a third party it is from yourself.

So, for now, I wait until the lab posts my results online.  I am hoping for a decent number but my guess is as good as yours.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Diabetes the Socialite

It's funny how diabetes can be both a private and completely social type of disease.   First off, I deal with my diabetes pretty privately in the sense that when I check, I do it without most knowing, when I bolus or carb count, it's quick and barely draws attention. I am not one to make a big stink about not knowing where the package to the hot dog buns went to carb count, nor make a scene when my blood sugar dips low.   However, sometimes diabetes does become quite social and at these times I either absolutely enjoy talking about it or I begin to shut down.

I do a lot of things in the diabetes world, and because of that, most of my stories  relate to diabetes in some shape or form.  I enjoy this aspect of diabetes being social, often times it saves me in an otherwise awkward conversation and sometimes it really gives me an opportunity to educate.  However, it's times like when my blood sugar screams from the top of its lungs and I find myself being swarmed by concerned friends and family, following me around like a loose toddler that I begin to shut down and turn away from my diabetes, well, at least from talking about it.

Recently, I had a high blood sugar around a group of friends that I must admit I announced to everyone, myself. I was surprised by the high blood sugar, but it wasn't anything that I was worried about.  I know what to do. If I am passed out, I do not know what to do {because I'm passed out..} but if I am walking around, chatting, being a normal human being then I know what I am doing.     However, others get worried and I get it. Knowing me, I'd be the same person chasing around someone who I thought was not O.K. I am an empathetic person and I love that there are others, but sometimes, I can't handle it.

I felt like I was the one in the group that was irresponsible, let my health slip away, like I couldn't be trusted to take care of myself.   But, really, high blood sugars happen, low blood sugars happen. It doesn't matter if it's a weekend party at the cottage, or a boring Monday night on the couch, it all happens.  I am a self-proclaimed professional at getting things in order, it's actually super easy {albeit sometimes not...} I bolus, I check, I bolus, I drink water, I relax, I don't panic.

I love that my friends care. I mean, this blog post could be about going high or low and my friends walking away from me like nothing, not asking me a single question, or ignoring me because I am a burden, but it isn't about that. It is about empathic people who genuinely want me to feel good, and be healthy.  I much rather be surrounded by love than hate, and so I am very thankful for that... But sometimes, when diabetes wants to be social and you do not, it's really hard to wrap your head around that concept.