Thursday, April 27, 2017

Common Question: Does diabetes run in your family?

Continuing on with the common questions in relation to my diabetes.  I feel as though this question comes from a place where people are trying to figure out the cause of diabetes, so in this common question post, I'll cover that as well!

Common Question: Does diabetes run in your family?


As of right now they do not know what causes type 1 diabetes. While type 2 diabetes can be pinpointed in some instances, type 1 diabetes is still somewhat up in there. I will disclose that I am not a science nor medical person so I will not go into details about that. However, for my case, I do have type 1 diabetes in my family (on my father's side).  I do not know what caused my diagnosis to appear when I was 18 but, I do know that I did not eat too much sugar nor was I overweigh like most media suggests must be the cause of diabetes. 

For me, living with type 1 diabetes comes with this question a lot. People are interested in knowing how does someone that was healthy for eighteen years of their life develop something as serious as type 1 diabetes.  I think it creates that unknown worry of "could that happen to me?" and while no one is exempt from type 1 diabetes, it is important to know the signs and symptoms and if there is a history of any health conditions in your family.

There are people living with type 1 diabetes that have no one in the family living with the condition, so it is important to note that while I did have family members living with type 1, that is not always the case! 

I'll take the time to list the signs and symptoms because I think they're incredibly important to note: 


  • Unusual thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Frequent or recurring infections.
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal.
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
(Source: diabetes.ca)  


Kayla

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Common Question: Do I have to stop eating sugar now?


This next common question is probably one of the most frequent questions that I get.  If someone happens to catch me indulging in Easter Candy, or a slice of cake at a birthday party, I am bound to get some kind of question, remark and advice from someone who just isn't sure if I was supposed to quit sugar or not. 


Common Question: Do I have to stop eating sugar now?


The most simplest answer is....no.  When I was first diagnosed I didn't even think twice about this because my grandparents had type 2 diabetes and I knew that my grandma also liked to indulge in chocolate... I vividly remember her two favourite hiding spots for junk food, her front closet in her house and under her bed in her R.V.  I didn't doubt that I wouldn't be able to enjoy some sweets but I did realize soon after that I would pay the consequence of eating too many sweets. 

If you have type 1 diabetes you likely have the tools to prepare for eating sweets.  Sometimes it isn't easy trying to give insulin for candy, chocolate or baked goods, but it is possible to still eat sugar as someone living with diabetes. I get a lot of questions or 'advice' about what I can and cannot eat.  There isn't anything I cannot eat (although there are things I do not want to eat!) and life continues after diagnosis, you just have to be more aware and sometimes being aware makes you think twice about your choices! *cue the calories that are now listed in restaurants*

Kayla 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Common Question: Can Diabetes Be Reversed or Cured?

For the next week or so I plan to go over some of the most common asked questions about living with type 1 diabetes.  If you have a common question, please let me know in the comments below and I'd be happy to try and answer or point you in the right direction! Please note that all answers are based on my own experience and opinion and I am in no way a medical professional!

Common Question: Can Diabetes Be Reversed or Cured?


If you live with diabetes of any kind, you likely have been offered some kind of 'cure' or advice on reversing your diabetes.  This may be in the form of a 'book you should read' or a 'spice you should eat' or it could be as out there as visiting some doctor in the hillside of Scotland for a cure.  Regardless what these people are offering, please know that as of right now there is NO CURE for diabetes. There is no Harry Potter Wand Pointing Spell, magic unicorn pixie dust on your oatmeal, or big green vegetable out there to cure your diabetes nor reverse the diagnosis.  

I get so many spam comments (on this very blog) in my inbox, along the side of of my personal Facebook, insisting that there is a cure out there.  I get people in person telling me about their friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who was cured of diabetes. I get people throwing the pyramid scheme shakes towards my way promising of diabetes reversal and all that is great.

Ahh, and what a life it would be to be cured or reversed (or flipped, turned, set on a different life path diabetes free...) but that isn't happening. It isn't happening today, and likely won't happen for awhile.  I combat this 'cure spam' by recognizing that it is false information.  I decide if I want to cast my energy on education or not and I move on.  I know what makes my diabetes better for myself, not cured, but better and I will stick with that. 




Kayla 



Monday, April 24, 2017

#HealtheVoices17

Since being diagnosed with diabetes I have been to A LOT of conferences.   A LOT.  Since the conferences I go to have so much meaning to me, each time I leave a conference, whether it is a day or a week, I am left with simple reminders and a clear focus.   I must admit, this last conference that I went to has got to be on the top of the list of being THE BEST conference I have been to. 


I attended a conference called HealtheVoices in Chicago (for anyone wanting to learn more, check out the #healthevoices17 to see what we got up to!)  What separated this conference from the rest?  I can't quite decide.

Was it learning that others living with different conditions such as HIV, Psoriasis, Mental Health + Chronic Pain have all kinds of amazing and tight communities like the type 1 diabetes community does? 

Was it hearing the stories that literally brought me to tears knowing that we are all facing battles and some how still find a way to give ourselves to one another relentlessly and unselfishly?

Or was it connecting with others that I know I would have never encountered had I not been diagnosed with a chronic condition?

I don't know.

What I do know is that I am leaving this conference with so much empathy, pride and hope that although sometimes we as online advocates have no idea if we have an impact or not, is anyone reading this? We still take time out of our busy lives to tell our stories, their stories and the stories that would otherwise not be told.  We continue to fight despite not feeling great, not feeling present and not feeling strong. We continue on. 







Disclaimer: Janssen paid for my transportation + accommodations. All thoughts + opinions are my own! 

 




Thursday, April 6, 2017

You Have Type 1 Diabetes

Recently someone I know from high school was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It brought back that feeling of when I was first diagnosed in 2009, just after high school.  I have since connected with her trying to give some insight of what I've learned in the past eight years, and bring myself back to that moment when I first heard those words, "you have type 1 diabetes." 

When I was diagnosed I connected with someone else who had diabetes within the first few weeks.  This to me was key, because when you are first diagnosed you have no idea what you're getting into and it is hard to imagine how living with diabetes is at all manageable.  Now, not everyone will get that experience of one-on-one meetings with another type 1 right off the bat, but I do hope that eventually a connection is made in their local community.   Just in case, I have created a short list of things I think are important to note and remember when first being diagnosed with diabetes.

1. Insulin will not make everything perfect, but you will feel a lot better.   I think I was under the impression that as soon as I took my 'medicine' that everything would be good and I would just feeling perfect and go about my normal routine.  Insulin is amazing, obviously, but diabetes is like a puzzle and it requires a lot of figuring out, ratios, timing, brain power and a magic wand.   It can be really disappointing when you first go on insulin and you are still dealing with the stubborn highs of diabetes. I can remember bawling my eyes out thinking I was doing something wrong because I was taking my medicine but nothing was immediately happening.

2. Your story is my story. There is power in sharing your story with others and if you do not know anyone in your community, check with your local hospital or go online! There are so many resources online of people to chat with or blogs to read.   I can remember when I was meeting another type 1 for the first time, and she told me about her symptoms pre diabetes, I felt like she was telling my story and in that I felt comfort. I wasn't struggling alone, and someone knew exactly how I felt.

3. You can cry, but be sure to end with a positive note. I have cried a lot about my diabetes.  When I was first diagnosed I would break down about the unknown future, would my hands become gapping holes after all these pokes? Would I be able to have a baby? Would I live as long as my friends? All of these questions flooded my mind and I would literally break down. I think this is just us being humans, we deal with things differently, and there is nothing wrong with crying. But, be sure to remind yourself of how far you've come, and prove to yourself what you can STILL do!  I often would cry and find myself in a deep dark hole of 'why me!' and as time has gone by, I have realized the answer to, why me?

4. All this structure will eventually become your routine. No one is a perfect diabetic, and if someone claims to be, here is your gold star.  When I was first diagnosed I did everything to the book. I counted individual french fries, I changed my lancet every single time, and I never once left the house without my bag of supplies. All of this, which every doctor, dietician and nurse would praise, eventually adapts to how you decide to live your life with diabetes.  You become an expert of carb counting via eye-balling and you 'joke' about only changing your lancet every few months... Diabetes is 24/7 and you have a million other things going on, at first it seems impossible to fit it all in and to follow the guidelines and rule book, but you'll adapt and find ways that make sense for you.



Kayla

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Functioning Human with a Plastic Pancreas

CGM is such a wonderful invention, I truly believe that my next a1c will be so much better than my last and I honestly believe that over all I am working on being healthy, restoring the feeling of having steady blood sugars and just feeling like I have some sort of grasp.  But, I am both emotionally and physically exhausted and even putting my thoughts together on this cold rainy Thursday is a task.

I was up likely every hour listening to pump alarms, finding a comfortable position to sleep after getting up to treat a low and moving Cola from beside my head to my feet every hour or so.   Poor M, spent a good chunk of time listening to my frustrated grunts as my alarms went off and wrappers unfolded and I feel guilty about disrupting his sleep.  

Between mental breakdowns this morning, chasing a high from a yogurt and bran muffin I ate that I didn't want to eat and sipping my cold coffee between working and trying to grasp energy from upbeat songs on youtube. I am trying. I am trying so hard to be a functioning human with a plastic pancreas.

I want to be healthy. I want to see straight lines and I want to have the best a1c yet, but that comes with a lot of focus, energy and time. It comes with being proactive in a world where we are busy and don't always know when we will eat next or what is for dinner.  It comes with patience that it is going to be okay and it comes with strength that I sometimes just can't muster up.

Kayla


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

High Blues

I wrote earlier about Low Blues  and now here comes the post about the High Blues, which are equally as defeating, if not greater.  You see, for the most part when you're low, or constantly going low the solution is a bit easier, eat more sugar.   Most often eating will bring your blood sugars up in no time (at least for me) the repetition of low after low is what gets super irritating because believe it not, eating yummy snacks constantly for lows isn't as lavish as it sounds.

Now, then there are high blood sugars that charge into us like a raging bull, a freight train or your worst nightmare.  When I get the alert my blood sugar is high and I see two arrows up on my pump screen (CGM) and I lose my mind.  It's like trying to catch a rabid animal (you get the point that highs suck!) Often times as long as I have a sensor on, I can sometimes detour it with a correction bolus, but other times when I am not alarmed (no CGM) it sort of just hits me out of nowhere and then I have to spend all my concentration on trying to bring it down.

Bringing down blood sugars seems easy in theory but for me, I'd say 9 out of 10 times, I have to literally tackle it down and it drives me crazy - literally crazy.   I spend most of my time looking at my CGM screen hoping that I see trending down arrows, or a drop of any kind.  I spend time trying to calculate if I should correct, override my basal, or run laps around the house.   I spend a good chunk of time swearing at my pump, wishing that I didn't have to deal with diabetes and ultimately feeling defeated. 

Alas the high blues, that feeling where you are pretty sure diabetes is running the show and you are left to deal with the after math.  That feeling where you wonder how long this could possibly go? How much time will this take from me? How much brain power do I have left to give to anything else?  It feels like defeat.

For the most part I have been trying so hard to keep between the lines of 3.8 mmol/L and 8 mmol/L. Some days are easier than others and those easy days usually mean that I have kept my carb intake super, super low.  Anytime I even attempt to 'treat' myself to something carby, I pay the ultimate price of being high for what feels like forever.  When you have been within 'range' for days then a high blood sugar hits you, you feel awful.

There are so many times I have felt on the verge of tears, wondering how I am going to keep up with this constant struggle, not knowing why my blood sugars do what they do, and trying to understand what my body wants from me.

Kayla

Sunday, March 19, 2017

THIS CARB RATIO ISN'T COOL ANYMORE!

Yesterday Mike and I went shopping and I happened to witness the fun moment where a thirteen year old girl didn't want her mother picking out her clothes.  As I looked at the clothes on the racks, I couldn't help but listen as the mother-daughter pair stormed around the store. The mother threatening to not buy anything and head home, and the daughter complaining that the mother never let's her pick what she wants to wear.  The mother trying to make things better, holds up a black sweater with a popular logo on it and the girl screams, "THAT BRAND ISN'T COOL ANYMORE!"  I remember those days of my mom not letting me wear certain things, or straight up telling me something did not look good, cue in the days of orange foundation. I so badly wanted to just tell the girl, 'listen, your mom is right...' but the more I watched the mother-daughter duo go in and out of the isles, the daughter walking faster and away from the mother as the mother yelled, Don't walk away from me!'  I began to realize, you know what, my diabetes is just like an angry thirteen year old girl.





My diabetes is usually angry at me.  Even when I remotely try to be nice to it, it somehow finds a way to test my patience.

My diabetes is always complaining about my choices.  Remember the time I gave myself a cookie, ONE COOKIE, and I spent the next two hours regretting something that I treated to myself.  Or, I take myself on a nice walk and what do I get in return?  a low blood sugar that sends me back home.

My diabetes changes its mind, of what it prefers and what it doesn't.    There are times when a bolus of 3 units for a meal is perfectly fine, same meal the next day, and 3 units just doesn't cut it.   THIS CARB RATIO ISN'T COOL ANYMORE! 

Lastly, my diabetes seems to have its own opinions and mind of its own and the more I try to come to terms with how my diabetes works, the more I want to just work with it and not against it... I want to understand it, but I also don't want it to take away from me, whether that's my sanity or ambition to keep going on.  Diabetes isn't actually a teenage girl, it can be a lot of things and honestly, sometimes I feel like that angry teenager rather than the mom.  But, regardless, sometimes as we watch our blood sugars rise & fall we have to find that middle ground where we can try to make things work, we try to compromise, but also take a stand, that we will not just give in.

Kayla


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Low Blues

There are two extreme sides of blood sugars, the highs and the lows.  Anything in between is all good, no sweat... but when you find yourself on either end of the spectrum, you're bound to feel some pretty awful feelings and I am not talking about physical symptoms right now, but mental.

Today, I am going to focus on the mental aspect of low blood sugars because after a ROUGH night of five low blood sugars and a few during the day today, the feelings are raw.  I am about to share a part of diabetes that is often masked with positivity and that 'we can do it' attitude from my end.  But, here it goes. 

 I am mentally and physically exhausted.  Since putting on a sensor, I have changed my diet drastically to keep that daunting line of blood sugar within the two targets.  I have gone fairly low carb in order to make this happen and the results - AMAZING. I have been able to stay within the target lines with ease, except the time I slipped up and had a cookie . . . but to be honest the cookie was out of stress this morning (yes I ate a cookie for Breakfast) and even though it was delicious I paid the ultimate price with a high blood sugar that lasted HOURS.  

Anyways, back to my emotions. After getting hardly any sleep, constantly waking up to a screaming alarm telling me I was low, shoving rockets into my mouth as I was half asleep, wishing diabetes would...leave, today I woke up less than refreshed.. in fact I am pretty sure I felt more refreshed pre bed time, than post.    I had to be out of the house by 9 a.m and after the 'cookie accident' I began to get frustrated with my now high blood sugars.   

 Like seriously body, you wanted sugar all night, 
and then I generously give you a cookie and you betray me like that! 

As I rage bolused and bumped my pump up to 150%, within a couple hours I was trending down and by lunch time I was at my ideal blood sugar. Then it was all down hill from there, low after low, treading water just to keep my blood sugar stable and not plummeting. I am sure it was my fault for stacking insulin, but I was frustrated.  I wanted to punch diabetes right in the face.  I was tired.

By 8:00 p.m I was so low I felt myself becoming less like myself, trending down arrows and a low suspend shouting at me from my pump. I wanted to cry.  Mike watched as a smothered peanut butter on everything (yes, I know PB is low carb, but you can smoother it on carbs and it's delicious)  and I am sure he knew that I was frustrated because I am pretty sure I yelled at him... but regardless, in my mind I felt so completely drained. So over trying to keep myself within those lines. So tired of eating for the sake of feeling normal.   

Diabetes totally drains you.  It can make you literally go crazy, low after low after low, you start to not want to treat it and that's the scariest part.    The catch is that once you start to eat and your blood sugar begins to come back, you start to feel more like yourself...but it's getting to that point that takes the work.  

Kayla 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Diaversary

People may wonder why every year, people with type 1 diabetes choose to celebrate their diagnosis date.   In the 'diabetes world' it is known as a Diaversary.  I learned early on in my diagnosis the importance of celebrating the date, not because we are celebrating that we were given this diagnosis, but rather we are celebrating that we have made it this far.

Today is about giving myself credit for the work I have put in. It is about embracing the technology and mind set that has pushes us through each day that diabetes has rears its head at us.  It's about acknowledging the support systems that have lifted us up when we felt like we couldn't do it anymore and it is about finding the good in the otherwise daunting disease known as type 1 diabetes.

Today, I am thankful for my family and friends that have stood by me and encouraged me to keep pushing. I am thankful for those friends who carry sugar on them, who make sure I am O.K and for those people in my life who have lend a shoulder for me to lean on.  I am also thankful for all the opportunities that diabetes has given me. It has allowed me to find a passion for helping others, writing and travel.  I am forever grateful for the people I have met along the way and continue to meet because of diabetes.

We cannot always predict the future, and at anytime life can change drastically like mine did eight years ago today, but we have the choice to accept it or deny it and that will greatly have an impact on our future.


Friday, March 10, 2017

A Work Of Art



This above is a work of art, painted by my blood sugars.  This right here is me trying my absolute hardest to stay between the green lines (3.9 mmol/L - 7.8 mmol/L) but clearly riding an unfortunate rollercoaster while trying to do so.  This is diabetes. 

Often enough people assume that diabetes management is about taking your medicine, watching your diet and working out. After all that is sort of how we solve a lot of health issues, we take our medicine, do what our doctor prescribes whether that is rest or walking 5 km a day and that's that. Diabetes management is multi-faceted.  We are expected to look, feel, and act like normal human beings all while trying to keep between the green lines.

It's not easy.  I have spent the past 2.5 days really focusing on my graph. Listening to the alarms of highs and lows and trying to act before it gets too wild.   It is absolutely amazing to see what foods send my blood sugars to the moon (Pasta!) and what foods have little to no effect (Apples!) and also to see how regardless of what I do/eat sometimes my blood sugars just do their own thing!  

This illustration is how my body is running, it is the ride that I am aboard (and cannot get off) and it all goes on while I try to balance my life.

Kayla 



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Glitter


What does the word 'control' mean to you?   The word control is thrown around the diabetes world like glitter. Everywhere we go people ask . . .


 "do you have your diabetes in control?" 


"those complications won't happen to you because you're in control right?"


"you need to control those sugars!"

"you should try x, y & z, you'll have way better control." 




And while we nod politely, we question whether or not we are in control? Who is in control? Because some days diabetes feels in control and I feel more like a passive passenger who wishes the driver would turn the air on because it's getting hot back here....

I personally do not like using the word control, and maybe I've used it before without noticing, but I'll blame that on the fact that control is one of the primary words used for diabetes both socially and medically.  We expect that our blood sugars are in control if we want to drive, if we want to  have children, even if we want to use the elliptical at the gym (warnings for people with diabetes everywhere!)

Diabetes is a disease that requires 24/7 care. It requires a whole bucket of guesstimating and a four leaf clover for good luck.   As much as we strive for 'control' sometimes no matter what we do, diabetes fights back with vengeance. If we got through the day without eating the entire pantry, or having to run our insulin pumps at 150%, does that count as control?  

Each day is a different story and some days are better than others. What control means to one person, may not resonate with another.

Kayla 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: Contour Next One

I had the opportunity to try out Ascensia's Contour Next One blood glucose meter along with the smart app that comes along with it! I used the meter for a week (and have continued since) and here are things I absolutely love about it!

1. It was super easy to connect to my smartphone

I am not one for having incredible patience... in fact I like things fairly quick, like microwave quick. This app was super easy to set up and it didn't require a whole bunch of information to get started. Also, the fact that it syncs on its own and I don't have to manually do anything is a big bonus!   I have used apps before, that require a lot of information which adds up a lot of time. This app is quick and easy to use!



2. The graphics are so simple, so pretty!

This app was designed very well! It's easy to read, easy to understand and I find it is actually quite encouraging.  Your blood sugar readings are in big font, the graph of your past blood sugars is lined nicely above... everything about the layout gives you the quick facts (what you actually need to know) on your smartphone.



3.  The meter is easy to use plus has a new feature called smartLight Technology!

This meter is very compact, which makes it awesome for throwing in your clutch or pocket. Also, it also allows you to do second chance sampling!


The other added feature to this meter is the smartLight technology, which gives you a marker of how your blood sugar is, by way of shining a light, green, yellow and red, and I can assume that you know what each colour would indicate.  While the coloured light feature seems a bit extra for someone who is able to read their blood sugars off the meter, I can see this feature being a great marker for those that are older living with diabetes who may require extra notice of blood sugars and their meanings as well as children with diabetes!



This post was sponsored by Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada Inc., but the thoughts are my own.  




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Managing Stress with Diabetes

For those that do not live with diabetes, you may notice things happen when you're stressed. Maybe you are more forgetful, your hair falls out, or you've gained a couple extra pounds.  All of this can happen when we stress our bodies and mind out and it's not a surprise that when you live with diabetes, stress will also effect your diabetes.

I don't mean to brag, but I am pretty good at stressing myself out...I have always been a fairly anxious person, even as a child.  It took me a long while as a child to be brave enough to leave my mom over long periods of time and I often worried about things like getting lost and people breaking into the house as a child.   So, as an adult, while those specific fears have faded, they're replaced with anxiousness about other things.

While I wouldn't say my stress levels effect my day-to-day life greatly, it seems to be reaping havoc on my blood sugars.  I have almost doubled my insulin intake this winter. I am at an all time high for insulin dosages.   As I have been working on various ways to lower my stress such as taking baths, going for walks/the gym, taking time to go to stores I love,  giving myself projects to work on and visiting with friends .... it can be relatively hard to calm my mind and my body.

Managing stress and diabetes is difficult, you get all the symptoms others get with stress, but also the issues with blood sugars or motivation to care for yourself.  It takes a lot of mental talk and commitment to focus on how to be less stressed; which, is much more easier said than done.

Kayla



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I Imagine

It's hard to believe that I lived eighteen years without diabetes, much longer than I have had diabetes.  The weirdest part about it is that I barely remember what it was like to not live with diabetes.  I see old home videos of me, finding chocolate easter eggs at Easter, not even thinking twice about what that meant for my blood sugar or health.  I see pictures of me at my birthday parties, pizza slices, orange pop and chocolate cake, and wonder, wow, I really could just eat all that and not even worry!

I started to think of the things that would be amazing if diabetes was ever to be cured (not holding my breath) and this is what I thought of:

1. I could eat without consequence 


Okay, so any human who eats junk food has consequences, which would be weight gain etc. However, literally everything that I put in my mouth I have to think about how it's going to play a roll in my blood sugar, which ties into everything else, including mood, energy etc.  I imagine what it would be like to go out for dinner with friends and order something without thinking, 'oh my gosh, I am going to need half my vial of insulin to cover this..."

2. I could sleep without fear or interruption 

I am not scared to sleep, but I am often faced with so many obstacles when trying to get a good night of sleep.  There is rarely a night that I am not up for....

a. a low blood sugar...
b. a high blood sugar (having to use the washroom...)
c. my pump vibrating for who knows what reason...

I imagine sleeping a full night without having to get up nor worry about diabetes.

3. I would have so much more brain space for other things

I literally think about diabetes so much. From checking, correcting, forgetting, calculating, eating, carb counting... you name it, it's on my mind.

I imagine that if I didn't have diabetes, I would have so much more concentration and energy to think of other things and get more things done.


Kayla

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Invite Positive

It's February, the month of love and the hope that there will be more sunshine than last month! January felt like a super long month for me. I have no idea why,  but it was cold, dark and gloomy most of the day and it was incredibly hard to keep motivated.

I love how a new month seems to always kick everyone in gear, the only trouble is, the first of the month always seems to be everyone's tell-tale of how your month will go, even though, I am pretty sure that it actually has no connection.

This morning I had a meeting downtown, and while I was super excited that the sun was shining through, I had been up super early because of a low blood sugar, then fell back asleep, then woke up again, so my mind was all over the place.  I got ready, brushed off my car, then scrapped off my car (the ice is the worst!)  and went on my way. Of course there was steady traffic all the way there and I was running behind thinking, "is this the kind of month it is going to be?" 

Upon arriving a paid for parking, and walked into the meeting a few minutes late, but relieved it was nothing too drastic, for those that know me well, I am hardly ever late. In the back of my head, still figuring out if this was destined to be good or bad month, I thought, wouldn't that be awful if I got a parking ticket.  While that occupied my mind, I left as with three minutes to spare on parking meter and drove off, thinking well maybe it will be okay.

I think this is sometimes how we approach diabetes as well.  We wake up in the morning...(or several times during the night) and we determine what kind of day it is going to be.  We have a high blood sugar pre breakfast, which makes us choose eggs over cereal, and we dread what will come next.  It is sort of setting ourselves up for failure, because I believe once we focus on the negative, we are bound to fall into more negative scenarios.

While we cannot control it all, I think that we do have some control over what we invite into our lives, whether that be 'bad' days or 'good' days.   Being late is bound to happen, running out of coffee could be a possibility (scary one at that..) but this doesn't mean that the day is ruined or broken. This month I am going to try and invite positive into my life.

Kayla  

Friday, January 27, 2017

The It Could Be Worse Statement

Often times to find light in diabetes, we think of the worst, you know, "well I could have ______ instead of diabetes and that would be worse." While this is totally a way of coping with our diagnosis, this is also a way that our friends, family and strangers phrase our diabetes diagnosis as well.  Raise your hands up if you've been told, "it could be worse."  And, I get that, but here is the problem with the 'it could be worse' statement.

When we think of a diagnosis of diabetes, we think of two things, managing diabetes through frequent blood sugar checks and taking insulin. Seems pretty straight forward. Right?  But, the more you spend time talking to someone with diabetes about their disease, you will quickly learn that diabetes isn't about these two 'simple' steps, rather a complicated mess of things. From the outside, people who love us question why we won't just take another dosage of insulin or check more often. They BEG us to just do something and not destroy ourselves, as if we have simply just given up.  

The problem, of simplifying diabetes, or making it somehow seem like a 'light' and totally 'manageable disease' is that we are drowning those people who live with this disease.  We are telling them that with a few easy steps and some 'harder' work, they to can be living a life of happiness like so-so celebrity who lives a glamorous life with diabetes. But, the reality of what it takes to manage a twenty-four hour/seven day a week disease is incredibly difficult.

As one of my teens from my empowerment once said, "It's hard to manage something you never asked for." And, with any  effort you put towards keeping yourself alive, the strength is admirable.

No disease is easy, no disease is any less than another, all of us who are fighting battles with our own bodies are warriors.

Kayla


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It Stings

Mary Tyler Moore, who lived with type 1 diabetes, passed away today.  I think the first thought on most people's minds was the big question of, "did she die to complications related to diabetes?"  The haunting feeling that this disease that we deal with could take away a life, hurts the hearts of those that are living with diabetes and those that care for ones with diabetes.  While Mary Tyler Moore lived a reasonably long life with diabetes, it still stings a bit to read a fellow type 1 has passed.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember my mom had told me that Mary Tyler Moore also had type 1.  To be honest, I don't know if I really knew who she was at that point because of the generation gap, but I took interest and my mom bought me her book, Growing Up Again: Life, Love and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, that talks about her diagnosis during her show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Learning about other celebrities along the way with diabetes is always interesting, seeing how they manage their disease and how they give back to the community, something Mary Tyler Moore did very well.

As the diabetes community mourns over her loss, I do hope that we see how much she accomplished in her life span and how many lives she touched.  It is difficult to not think the worst, wondering what lead to her death, and if we will reach those stages, or how we can avoid them as people who battle the same condition.  In connection with the mental health campaign put on by Bell Canada, #BellLetsTalk I hope to make a point to say that if you are feeling anxious about your diabetes, if you're worried or scared, reach out and talk.  I am offering my support and listening ear, anytime.

I know hearing news of fellow type 1's passing away stings, I know it makes you think a million different things, and assess your management skills - am I doing enough?  But know, that you're not alone.


Rest in Peace Mary Tyler Moore


Kayla

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Coping Mechanisms

The more people you come across living with diabetes, the more your realize how different one can deal with their diabetes. I have lived with diabetes for almost eight years and in that time frame I would say that my level of calmness with my diabetes has been pretty steady.  I have never really let diabetes stop me from doing anything nor worried about it's effects on whatever I was doing at the time, such as writing exams or going out with friends. Of course there are moments where I've had to intervene to take care of my diabetes, but not once have I felt that diabetes took my sanity.

However, it's the smaller stuff that seems to steal my sanity. I am quite a perfectionist at times and things like, matching, organization, making plans - disrupt my calmness.  I find it incredibly strange that diabetes never has disrupted my calmness quite like a mismatching plate and napkin set. It's incredible, like my body knows, what is not all that important and stresses about that instead...

I get the stress that comes with living with diabetes and I won't type away saying I don't ever stress about my diabetes, but sometimes I wonder if that is my exact coping mechanism when dealing with this 24/7 disease.    Instead of stressing over the disease that I can do my best to manage, but cannot change, I stress over the plans of a girls' night out and making sure every detail is perfected - because that is something I can muddle around, and make perfect.

Either way I believe we all have our coping mechanisms when it comes to diabetes whether that's reaching out to talk to someone about it, ignoring it or going out of our way to stress about something else...

Kayla

Friday, January 20, 2017

Maintaining Friendships

This week has been great for connecting with friends - it's funny how a lot of things sort of happen all at once, you plan for something and it attracts a whole lot of everything else.  Busy attracts busy perhaps?  But, these past two weeks have been incredibly busy, but filled with things I love and that includes work (I love the jobs I do!)

But, more so what it involved was connecting with old friends, and to me, that is so incredibly important because I must admit, keeping in touch with all the people I know and care about can be difficult.   I have friends from all over and putting in the time to really catch up isn't easy, but is totally worth it.  I had decided early on in the year that I wanted to really put more effort into seeing, listening and going the extra mile for the people that mean the most to me.  

As someone who prefers pajamas over dresses sometimes, it can be difficult to convince myself to 'just do it' go out there and make plans.  This week I caught up with a good friend who really was my first real diabuddy (friend with diabetes). The funny thing is that we actually had known one another most of our lives, going to the same elementary school, but never talking until we both found out we were in the same situation - the diabetes situation! Throughout my diagnosis we kept in touch, often meeting for super long chats at Williams' Cafe, but once he moved to a new province our friendship distanced a bit, until I realized he was moving to the same city as I am in.  This week we met up and it was like no time had passed - I was reminded of the importance of keeping those we truly connect with, close.

For some flashback Friday, here is a blog post written in 2009: 100 Days

Another person I reconnected with was a friend from College.  This time, many more years had passed between the time we last hung out up until this week, but I did like her new philosophy of strengthening her friendships - as it matched what I had set out to do in the new year.   It reminded me the importance of not letting life just fly by without really spending time with your friends and family.

Maintaining friendships does take time and effort, but I can guarantee that the payoff is worth it.

Kayla

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Unrealistic Expectations

I think we all have this expectation on how we should manage our diabetes. Whether that expectation comes from our parents, endocrinologists or the diabetes community - at times it can be rather defeating when we try to live up to an expectation we feel is unattainable.  I cannot stress enough how different diabetes is for each person who has it.  The way in which one person handles their diabetes is completely different to the next, and that is something we all should keep in mind when we are communicating about our diabetes whether that's a in-person conversation at your endo's office, or an online conversation on a forum.

Setting unrealistic goals about our diabetes is asking too much of ourselves. Lowering your a1c from seven to five in a matter of months - is difficult, and not an easy journey, so taking baby steps and focusing on how you want to handle diabetes (not how someone on Instagram handles their diabetes) is key.

Comparing ourselves is a good way to set unrealistic expectations.. let's keep in mind that social media is a snapshot of most people's highlight reel and not always their bloopers.  Seeing meter numbers that reflect a 'perfect' blood sugar doesn't mean that person is always on point - keep that in mind when you're trying to push forward with your diabetes. We all have faults, triumphs and stumbles, we just don't always show them.

Pointing out what's wrong and not what's right.   I'm going to do it, I'm going to quote Dr. Phil on this one, "It takes 1000 'atta boys' to erase one, 'you're an idiot.' " But seriously, those discouraging words you hear from your diabetes team or family/friends resonate so much, even more so then the times they let you know you were doing a good job.    It's important to sit back and think about what your own accomplishments are with your diabetes and set yourself up with a practical expectation.

Kayla




Friday, January 13, 2017

Time, Listening & Acts of Kindness

As you get older you realize the importance of time, listening and acts of kindness.   I'd hope that some are lucky to realize the importance of these things earlier in life, but I can say my awareness of these things has heightened as a I reach my late 20's.   People struggle every single day on things we cannot imagine.   People carry on throughout their lives sometimes without ever showing their fears, heartaches or pain - and while those people appear happy on the outside, that isn't always the case behind closed doors.

I have made it my mission to reach out to those that I surround myself with and check in.   Not in a, 'I'm your parent' type way, but checking in to make sure they have a good day, and in turn I believe that gives them the opportunity to reach out to me if they need someone to listen to, and visa versa. I strongly believe that even a small act of kindness, a good morning text, a 'how are you doing' email, all of those things open the doors to helping those that sometimes may feel alone.

Recently on a conference call, one of the call participants told us how much she appreciated each and every one of us and while that gesture seems simple, it really impacted me and made me think about the times that I have let people know I appreciate them and what impact our words have on people (for the good and bad). I take those notion of the importance of time, listening and acts of kindness and put it towards not only my family and friends but also to the teens in my local support group that I run.  These three things are so incredibly valuable, more than anything one could buy and implementing the notion of these things into our daily lives - I feel, could be impactful.

Kayla

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Give Yourself Time

You do not owe anyone anything.  You are fighting a disease that many have no idea what that entails.  You spend countless hours worrying about your own health, whether or not you are prepared to handle the worst outcomes of your situation, if you can continue on without completely losing your mind. You do not owe anyone an explanation why you need to take some time to yourself.  Whether you're a warrior with type 1 diabetes or a parent/caregiver of someone with diabetes - you're doing some pretty hard things and taking time to re-coop is totally okay.   For me, I fill my days with lots of things, whether it's connecting with friends, posting on social media, going for a run, regardless the day is packed with tasks to do whether that's voluntarily done or not.      But, there is always apart of me that is pushing back time to sit back and relax.

Everyone relaxes differently, whether that is with a glass of white wine, a bubble bath or listening to calm music (or all the above...)   this time is so important because it helps us restore our faith in ourselves... that we can push through the next 24 hours not only with a bravery but also with our sanity in tact.  I know so many people out there who confess that they do not feel they have time for themselves or the money to spare, but one thing I have learned is that little acts of self love go along way, taking an hour on the weekend to get a pedicure or treating yourself to a Starbucks drink - that's all it takes sometimes to boost yourself into feeling better.

I'd like to challenge all my readers to pick a date this month to do something for themselves, and really do it!  Don't cancel that manicure, don't drain the tub too soon, give yourself an hour of relaxation to restore yourself.  You owe it to yourself!

Kayla

Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Ways to Save

Living with diabetes isn't always about finding the easiest way of dealing, rather many people living with diabetes are looking for ways to find the cheapest way.  Diabetes is expensive!   Every little part of it is expensive, from the insulin that keeps us alive, to the doughnut we had to buy to keep ourselves from passing out!  As much as my global travel has taught me that I am lucky for my warm home, my free healthcare and my insulin in my fridge - it's still expensive!

I have learned a few diabetes hacks, that I thought I'd share...

1.  Buy juice boxes, rocket candies (smarties for my American Friends) anything but those expensive 'diabetes' tabs.  

Unless you've been sponsored by a diabetes sugar tab maker, you're probably spending quite a bit on sugar.   I know, I know, some people find it works faster, but I would like to say, that for me, other things work that are not super expensive, say, like rocket candies that I can get at the bulk barn for a fraction of the cost!


2. Ask for samples! You know, maybe you'll only get a few test strips or a vial of insulin, but sometimes companies/doctors/pharmacies have samples! 



It never hurts to ask for samples or see if there are any extra supplies.  A vial of insulin can cost A LOT, and if your doctor happens to have a trial sample in their clinic's fridge - why not!   







3. There is always a way to make things work! 

If you're on a pump and you are offered insulin via pen or pen vial, you can make it work!  Visa-versa! The wonderful syringe or reservoir, although annoying, can help you suck that wonderful insulin out and put it to good use!  If there is a will, there is a way, and if it will make you save money, then even better!







Kayla

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Hardest Hour of Diabetes

The hour you wake up from your deep sleep, confused, exhausted and unsure if you're low or not.  You lay there looking up at the ceiling thinking about whether or not you're low. The convincing sweat that is rolling down your chest and the back of your neck and the weakness in your body.
 During that hour, there is the moment you binge, anything to keep yourself level, so that you can go back to sleep. You calculate how much longer you have before your alarm sounds.  Rummaging through the cupboards and fridge, stabbing juice boxes with straws, emptying drawers to find candy.
Then, still eating you decide to go back to your warm bed you left. You lay there, in the stillness of your own home while the world around you is asleep, but you're an inch into the peanut butter jar and crumbs are following you from bed to kitchen counter.  Then, finally you convince yourself to stop. Stop eating and reassure that you'll be okay until morning, trying to fall asleep with a full belly and the worry that you over ate or did not eat enough.


* this was found on my iPhone notes that I wrote at 12:49 a.m December 2nd, while having a low * 

Kayla

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How to Make Blood Sugar Checks a Habit

I would say that the most failed task a person with diabetes does is likely checking their blood sugar often.  I am guilty of this.  There are days that I am checking fairly often and other days where I am surprised at how little I bothered to check...i.e maybe once a day.  It's an awful habit to not check your blood sugar because while we are type 1's feel as though we have an innate knowing of what our blood sugars are without checking, sometimes we can be really wrong, which could lead to a whole slew of issues.

Living with type 1 diabetes for almost 8 years now, I've come to the understanding that there are some key things that make me check more.   I can tell you that FEAR is not one of them. Although fear can encourage checking more I don't think it's a sustainable way to promote frequent healthy blood sugar checks.    Instead here is the one thing that keeps me motivated to checking my blood sugar and make it a sustainable habit.  Although this does seem to help, this is not a surefire way to be 'perfect,'  I still find myself slacking on occasion.

  • keep your meter closer to you

This is key for me. If my meter is in my purse downstairs, and I am upstairs, chances of me going downstairs, digging through my purse to find my meter is low.  Having my meter close by promotes more blood sugar checks simply because it's close to me and in visible range to where I am.  I almost feel guilty seeing it sit there while I enjoy a snack, because I know it's purpose and I know I am supposed to be using it.

There may be barriers as to why someone is not checking frequently, such as access. So I believe that the frequency in which you test should suit your needs and goals.  If you can only afford to check twice a day it is better than none. If you can afford to check multiple times during the day, and that makes you happy (and not stressed) than do that.   For myself, I check between 3 - 7 times a day on average depending on the activities I have done, the food I have ate, and mood that I am in.   What works for one person, isn't always going to work for the next.  But, I am a firm believer in having my meter close by, in order to test more often! 

Kayla

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Do What You Love

Another gym membership is now in my possession - which makes my heart happy.    I have been to a few gyms in my life, and all have become a little part of me. I love the community a gym brings, for instance when I was at YMCA pre-Kilimanjaro, I got to know the staff very well and even made a friend out of one of the trainers.   Gyms although sometimes have a bad rep, they are an awesome way to get out of the house without having to spend money (unless your gym happens to be connected to a grocery store, but I've learned to leave my money at home!)


This isn't really a post about gyms, because I'd assume most people know what gyms are like.  But more so a post about finding something that makes you happy.  As we continue on this year we will find ourselves feeling like we are in a rut or at least bored - it's bound to happen at least a few times.  Finding things that make us happy are important and making the time to do those things can sometimes be difficult.  But, I believe in the saying that if you absolutely love something/someone you make time for that thing or person.   

Now that I have a gym membership, because running in the winter is NOT my thing... I can get back into running - which I love to do and once the snow melts and the temperature climbs to a reasonable level, you'll find me running the trails again.   I am trying to make time for this because I love this, I love how I feel before and after and it really keeps me energized - after all I work from home, so getting outside in the real world is wonderful! 

A few other things I have promised myself to do is continue to write, as that is also something that makes me happy and connect with my friends even more.  I think I do a decent job at checking in with friends, but I feel like I could do better.  I want to surround myself with things I love, and people I love.  I want to make time for these things/and people and really make the most of 2017.  

I'd love to hear what makes you happy and what you plan to do in 2017 to make those things happen?

Kayla 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Three Diabetes Resolutions

Tis' the season to make a bunch of resolutions and promise yourself you will stick to them and while some of us are able to keep those promises to ourselves, it can be incredibly easy to let them fall to the wayside.   So, I thought of three resolutions, we, as people living with diabetes can promise ourselves and hopefully help one another keep them going strong.


1.   Don't be so hard on yourself in 2017

Diabetes takes a good chunk of our time and energy, we know that.   As much as we do good for ourselves, like give ourselves insulin for our dinner or remember to bring our meter to the gym - we often fault ourselves WAY too much over the things we do happen to forget or not do.  Give yourself more credit for the things you do everyday - after all you're keeping yourself alive!

2. Connect and Give Back 

As soon as you're diagnosed with diabetes you start your training on being an expert in the field.  It's amazing how much we learn over our diagnosis, and I can only imagine the people who are 20+ in can somehow smell the carbs of food miles away and give an accurate dosage... but really, we are all full of tips and tricks that could really benefit someone out there, and even so, just lending your ear to hear out a fellow type 1, is an awesome way to give back to the community.   Take it even further and start/join a support group whether that's online or in person!

4. Show your thankful heart 

You know that saying, "It takes a village to raise a child..." well that village doesn't stop helping once you're an adult.  The village whether that is online or in person is always there to help guide you, and that is something to be thankful for.  Last year I started writing cards and mailing them to the people that have supported, helped, and loved me in the past year and I plan to do that again. Living with diabetes we do rely on people and there are certain people in our life that make living with diabetes manageable and keep us from cracking.   Don't forget to take the time to show your thankful heart for those that have raised us up along the way - maybe even a thank you letter to your endo?!


Kayla