Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Play That Horn

Want to hear a secret? You're awesome. (It's actually not even really a secret.) This is going to be hard for you, O Modest One, but you gotta give yourself props today. Write three things you love about yourself - things you're great at - or just want to share. Don't you dare signpost or undercut those self-compliments!

I can't believe we are at the end of National Health Blog Post Month already. And not only have I survived, and posted every day (aside from the two freebie days), I have looked forward to writing my daily posts; I wake up excited to write every morning.

Normally I am definitely not someone who toots their own horn, but today I am pretty darn proud of my accomplishment. Still new to blogging (I started this blog in March of this year), I've averaged about a dozen posts per month up to November, so writing every day for #NHBPM has certainly been a challenge. But it has also been a tremendous learning opportunity.

So here it is -  3 things I love about myself...

Dedication - Whether it's parenting, my job, athletic pursuits, or any new challenge, I don't give up. To me, there is no point in starting something unless am going to do my absolute best to finish it. And if I don't have the skills or knowledge to finish what I started, I learn them, which leads to number 2...

Lifelong learning - I am a sponge when it comes to learning; I can never get enough. University degrees in two completely unrelated areas and ongoing professional development is only the beginning. I read a lot and constantly challenge myself with new opportunities and puzzles.

Passion - I don't do anything lightly. Those who know me well, can attest that when I take on a new challenge I don't just dip my big toe in the water, I cannonball in with full force. And my excitement about new projects is contagious (or annoying, depending how you look at

I am going to miss #NHBPM, not only the writing, but reading all of the great posts by others too!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Greeting Card Post

The greeting card industry is all about writing generally universal feelings in a presentable way that you can use to express yourself when you just can't think of the words to say. Write a greeting card for someone in your community to help them express themselves about a new diagnosis, treatment, or experience.

Sometime not too long after Dylan's diagnosis I remember questioning myself and doubting whether or not I had it in me to manage his disease on a permanent basis. Don't get me wrong, I never considered NOT managing it, but at times I have certainly felt totally and utterly overwhelmed by diabetes. Times when I have wanted to give diabetes the finger and bury my head under my pillow. We've all been there at one time or another. But yet we dig deep, stand up tall, and discover that we are stronger than we ever thought possible.

So if I were to create a greeting card, I wouldn't need to write my own. There is a quote that I have returned to time and time again over the past 6 years; a quote that, quite honestly, sums up my feelings as a d-mom perfectly:

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Monday, 28 November 2011


What's the most ridiculous thing you've heard about your health or your condition. Was there any context? What did you think at the time you heard it - and what do you think of it now?

As with any chronic health condition, there are always those who think there are magic pills, super foods, or quick fixes to "cure" their disease. From cinnamon cures, to positive affirmations, to the Reader's Digest fiasco this past April (see my response here), misinformation is abundant in the health care community, and diabetes is no exception.

I can't begin to count how many times uneducated or misinformed people have suggested to me that my son got diabetes because he ate too much sugar, or didn't get enough exercise, or because someone else in our family had it. There have been too many, "Oh, I thought diabetes was just an adult disease," and, "Only people who are overweight have diabetes." I used to get mad when people made such ignorant comments, but over the years I have become less inclined to retort with anger and now simply try to correct them in the simplest and quickest way possible.

Type 1 diabetes is not curable, reversible, or stoppable. It can affect anyone of any age, weight, sex, and ethnic background, and it not caused by lifestyle choices. 

Every person in the world relies on insulin to stay alive. Without it we are ALL dead. But for most of us, cells in our pancreas automatically control the amount of insulin we produce. We eat, we produce insulin. We fast, or exercise, our body reduces insulin production. This process happens over and over throughout the day automatically. We don't need to tell our pancreas to secrete insulin any more than we need to tell our heart to beat or our lungs to breathe. It just happens.

In a type 1 diabetic, however, the immune system attacks and kills the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and therefore the patient must obtain insulin from one of two sources, either by injection or by subcutaneously, via an insulin pump. This means they must know exactly how much insulin to take at any given time. Too much, and hypoglycemia occurs, in which case the person needs fast acting sugar immediately or coma, or even death, can occur. Too little insulin, and the result is hyperglycemia, which over time can cause a range of nasty side effects ranging from blindness, to kidney failure, to amputation, and even death. It is a very delicate balance of food intake, activity level, and insulin and a type 1 diabetic must attempt to manage this balance every minute of every day for the rest of their lives.

Let's face it: it sucks. But there are scientists working around the world to make diabetes management easier and more effective so that kids like my son can live a long healthy life. And until there is cure, we will do what we can to manage the disease as best we can: weigh and measure food, count carbs, monitor activity levels, illnesses, growth patterns, weather changes, stress levels, and even mood swings. And take insulin to stay alive.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Quote Unquote: WEGO Health 2011 Health Activist Awards

Grab a quote from the WEGO Health site (type in any word - see what comes up!) and the use that quote to set you writing.

Rather than use a quote for this post, I thought I would tell you about an email I received from WEGO Health recently in regards to an exciting new program they are launching in December! 

The Health Activist Awards will officially recognize inspiring health activists (both new and well established) in 10 different awards categories and thank them for their commitment to the online health community. There are tons of terrific health activists out there and even though I am still pretty new to this arena, I have definitely been inspired by many of the touching stories I've read since becoming a member of this community.

If you're asking yourself, "What is a health activist?" WEGO defines health activists as "online leaders who work daily to improve the way people talk and think about health – active in multiple communities, passionate about health causes, dedicated to finding the best information, and relentless in their commitment to helping others. They also use every tool possible to lead their communities, especially through social media."

So here's the deal. Simply nominate your favorite health activists by visiting the Health Activist Awards page at WEGO Health. Nominations officially begin December 1st, but you can start nominating your favorites now. There is no limit on how many people you can nominate, so feel free to nominate as many as you'd like to let them know they've made a difference in your life.

Finally, spread the word! Tell your friends, post on your own blog, and tweet using the hashtag #HAAwards.

These are the 10 different awards categories:

Rookie of the Year 2011: The Health Activist who came on the scene in 2011 but has inspired the entire community. 

Best in Show 2011: This Health Activist dominates a particular platform and is a great model for taking it to the next level.

Paperboy Award 2011: The Health Activist who always brings you the latest and greatest news and research.

Health Activist Hero 2011: Who has changed your life?  Recognize the Health Activist who has made a significant impact on you. 

Advocating for Another 2011 (Best Parent or Caregiver): Award the dedication of someone who raises awareness for the condition of someone they love.

TMI Award 2011 (Too Much Information): This Health Activist always goes there - no matter how personal or embarrassing the story.

Hilarious Health Activist 2011: You swear you're at a comedy show.  This Health Activist brings the funny with the advocacy.

Offline Crusader 2011: This Health Activist did amazing things offline this year.  Tell us about your favorite.

Best Affirmation Post 2011: Recognize the best single post that explains, outlines, or affirms the Health Activist mission.

Best Kept Secret 2011: Help us find the hidden gem of the Health Activist world - and share them.

For full information and contest rules, check out the Health Activist Awards FAQ Page.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

I Still Remember...

Free Write a Post that starts with the line "I still remember..."

I still remember the day we switched from syringes to an insulin pump as if it were yesterday, and yet it's been 4 years. Late November 2007 Dylan started on the Minimed Paradigm 522 insulin pump and we never looked back. Now, 4 years and an expired warranty later, we are about to embark on a new pumping journey with the Paradigm VEO.

It's hard to explain all of the phenomenal ways in which pumping has enhanced Dylan's life. But here are the top five pump highlights (in no particular order) that Dylan is most crazy about:

1) It allows him the flexibility to basically eat what he wants when he wants. Before pumping, Dylan had a very specific meal plan. He had 3 meals per day, consisting of 45 grams of carbohydrate each, interspersed with 3 snacks of 15 grams per day. They were timed to meet the peaks of the insulin injections he was receiving, so he had to eat at pre-set times or risk low blood sugar.

2) It eliminates multiple daily injections. HUGE bonus!! Dylan was getting 4 injections per day - 2 in the morning (1 injection of rapid insulin and 1 of long acting insulin), 1 injection of rapid at dinner, and an injection of a different long acting insulin at night. It was messy, a nuisance to measure all the time, and the needles were big and painful for a 5 year old.

3) It helps to stabilize his blood sugar levels. Sure, it's far from perfect, but we certainly have less severe high and low swings with the pump. The continuous basal insulin, coupled with the ease of tweaking carb and bolus amounts has vastly reduced the massive high and low swings he used to get.

4) Better A1c numbers. For the most part Dyl's A1c numbers have been better with the pump. There is still room for improvement, but we're moving in the right direction.

5) Finally, and this is the number one advantage to pumping, it gives Dylan so much independence. Before pumping I was with him all of the time, hovering and monitoring his every move. Now, he can go to friend's houses to play, and even sleepover, he can be a "regular kid" at birthday parties, and he can play sports just as hard as his peers. He is responsible for all of his blood sugar testing, carb counting, and bolusing. He can tell you the carb count of virtually any food right off the top of his head, and if it happens to be one he doesn't know, he has an awesome app on his iPod to help him (CarbFinder) figure it out. I oversee everything and do his site changes, but he likes to be responsible for the day to day pumping.

I couldn't imagine going to back to MDI's (Multiple Daily Injections) and neither could Dyl. We are so excited to usher in another 4 years of pumping with the new pump!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Never Have I Ever...

You stick to your guns - now tell us about what. What is something you've never done but want to? What's something you've never done and won't budge on?

Never have I ever...

Today's prompt asks two related, but very different, questions about things one has never done with their health condition. On one hand we have things one wants to do, and on the other hand, things one would never do.

The first half for me is a no brainer: we have never used a continuous glucose monitoring system (cgms) and I really want one! We are actually getting a new insulin pump, the Medtronic Paradigm VEO, on Monday. We're going to go with just the pump for December and then add the cgms in January. Can't wait!!

The second half of the prompt asks what have I never done and never would. In terms of diabetes? There are a few things. I have never listened to any of the crazy, ridiculous things that some people say about diabetes and its supposed "cures" and quick fixes (see post day 28 for more info). I've never let diabetes define Dylan or limit him in any way. I've never not advocated for diabetes, and I've never given up on a cure. Never will either.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Our Diagnosis Story

I've decided to go in a different direction with today's post. I have never written about Dylan's diabetes diagnosis, and I think it's about time I did.

Monday, November 21st, 2005 was the day Dylan was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, though his symptoms certainly presented prior to that.

Approximately 5 or 6 days earlier, we noticed that Dylan wasn't feeling well. It started with some extra tiredness, and increased thirst, and by Thursday of that week his thirst was insatiable. We have a water cooler in our kitchen and I remember that Dylan would grab a pint mug from the cupboard, fill it up with water, chug it all down, and then fill it and drink it again. He started going to the bathroom more and more frequently, and even wet the bed one night, though he had been toilet trained for over 2 years. He was pale and lethargic, but we simply thought he had the flu. After all, it was November (flu season), and there was no history of diabetes anywhere in our family. In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about diabetes at all, so I never would have suspected it.

Friday, November 18th, my husband and I went to Las Vegas for the weekend with the company my husband was working for at the time. My mother stayed in our house with the kids while we were gone. I spoke with her a couple of times over the weekend and learned that Dylan was getting sicker and sicker, though still none of us suspected diabetes.

On Sunday afternoon, my husband's dad took all three kids out for lunch. Dylan was incredibly thirsty by this point and ordered a coke (regular, not diet). He drank it all and had a couple more before lunch was over.

Sunday night the children went to their aunt's house for dinner. She noticed how sick Dylan was and gave him a couple of mandarin oranges to eat.

In retrospect, of course, I know how dangerous everyone's actions were. Three pint sized cokes and two mandarin oranges, plus lunch and dinner equals a whole lot of carbs for a diabetic. But everyone was simply trying to help Dylan feel better, not realizing that their actions were actually pushing him closer and closer to a hyperglycemic coma.

My husband and I returned from Las Vegas Sunday night to find Dylan very sick and already asleep for the night. The next morning he had a appointment with an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist because of a virus he had battled a few weeks earlier (another hint we missed). My mother helped me take him to the specialist because he was so sick by this point. I remember sitting in the waiting room and Dylan couldn't stay awake. It was 9:00am and he had slept 12 hours the night before, but he was exhausted. After a brief appointment with the specialist (who also agreed that Dylan had a bad flu), we decided to take him into the clinic up the street and have our regular doctor take a look at him.

Our doctor was on maternity leave and her replacement was a very young, recent graduate, who had just started practicing medicine (I honestly believe this was a blessing because her knowledge was so fresh and up to date). She took one look at him and said, "I think he has type 1 diabetes. But let me do a quick test to confirm."

She left the room for a minute and returned with a blood glucose meter, the first one I had ever seen. She did a quick finger poke and applied the blood to the strip. The screen started flashing "HI," but I had no idea what that meant. The doctor explained that the machine was testing the level of glucose in Dylan's blood and that any number over 10.0 mmol/l (180 mg/dl) would indicate a likelihood of type 1 diabetes and require further testing. I asked what the "HI" meant and she informed me that it meant Dylan's blood sugar level was too high for the machine to calculate. This particular tester had a measurable limit of 27.7 mmol/l (498.6 mg/dl).

She was calm, but explained that he needed to see an endocrinologist as soon as possible. She called the pediatric endocrinologist directly and told her about Dylan's likely diagnosis. The endo agreed to see us immediately. We literally got in the car and drove the 6 blocks to the pediatric endocrinologist's office. Again we were met by a young female doctor who was a wealth of information. She looked at Dylan, who by this point was sleeping on my lap because he could not stay awake even for minute, and gave us the news that he had type 1 diabetes.

The endocrinologist called the hospital and had Dylan admitted right away. She told us to head over there (it was across the street) and that she would clear her afternoon schedule and meet us there shortly.

Everything was happening so fast and I still really had no idea what diabetes was. I certainly was not aware of the gravity or permanence of the diagnosis. Boy was my world about to change!

When we got to the hospital we were rushed upstairs to pediatrics, where a diabetes educator and a nurse were waiting for us. A lab technician came in and took some blood and then over the next few hours I was overloaded with information about diabetes and all of things we would need to do to look after Dylan. I learned about insulin injections and about how to test his blood sugar level. I remember the diabetes educator having me practice injecting an orange and then injecting Dylan for the first time.

A dietician came in and taught me about carb counting and we designed a daily meal plan based on 3 meals of 45 grams of carbs each and 3 snacks of 15 grams of carbs each.

At some point the endocrinologist arrived and gave us the results of the lab work. The high glucose level in Dylan's blood confirmed that he had type 1 diabetes. In fact, his bg was one of the highest they had ever seen in a child. It was 51 mmol/l (918 mg/dl)!! They informed me that Dylan had been within 24 hours of a coma. The endocrinologist began to devise an insulin regime for him based on his meal plan and body weight.

I desperately tried to take everything in, but it still had not registered with me that this was a permanent, life threatening condition. In fact, I don't remember anyone ever telling me just how serious it really was. Perhaps they assumed I knew, or they didn't want to overload me. Over the 2 days of training and education, diabetes care was always presented to me in a way that emphasized its manageability. Looking back today, I realize how critical that was in defining the way I would view diabetes from then on. I never panicked or felt any sense of loss or grief for Dylan. I simply went about learning everything I could to ensure that I could provide him with the best possible care.

I remember the diabetes educator being surprised at how calmly I accepted Dylan's diagnosis and how vigilant I was about learning everything I could about it. Maybe that's the teacher in me. She told me that she has noticed over her years of experience in working with families affected by diabetes, that when a child is diagnosed, the parents usually react in one of three ways:

1) They immediately grieve, as if they have lost something very close to them
2) They essentially go numb and either deny the presence of the disease or get angry, questioning why them
3) They accept the diagnosis and jump right into fight mode

I was the latter. My reaction was to fight. To do anything and everything I could to find a cure. To fundraise, volunteer with JDRF, advocate, and educate. I needed to know that I was giving it my all. And while I've certainly mellowed a bit over the past 6 years, I continue to advocate for Dylan and the millions of other people living with diabetes. I no longer hold out hope that a cure is around the corner, but I continue to believe that it is out there somewhere, and it will be found one day, hopefully in Dylan's lifetime. And I understand that research takes time and, above all, costs money, so I continue to fundraise for JDRF.

I know diabetes is a scary disease. I know it's life threatening, and I know we always need to stay on top if it. But I don't let it take over our lives and I will never let it define Dylan. He is so much more than his disease.

Happy 11th birthday Dylan. I love you and I am so proud of you.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Activist's Choice: 6 Years with Diabetes

Write about whatever you want today!

Two days ago (Nov 21st) marked Dylan's 6 year diaversary. An anniversary of the day on which we received news that would forever change our lives. 

6 years of living with diabetes! Sometimes I can't believe it has been that long already; other times I can't remember our lives before diabetes.

What does 6 years with diabetes entail? Let me give you an basic idea...

13,158 blood sugar tests
2,190 insulin injections by syringe (pre-pump days)
488 infusion set changes
52,632 units of insulin
1 faulty pancreas

And these numbers are conservative. These numbers represent the basic, essential diabetes care Dylan needed in the past 6 years in order to stay alive; the minimum 6 tests per day, and infusion set changes every 3 days. They don't include extra testing when ill, at night, or at non-eating times. Nor are they representative of  faulty infusion sets or ones that fall off early. And they don't reflect all of the curve balls that diabetes has thrown our way over the past 6 years. They are the basic. The minimum. The life or death requirements.

So as Dylan nears his 11th birthday tomorrow, and continues through year seven with type 1 diabetes, I am grateful for the medical advances that keep my son alive today, but I still hold on to the hope that someday there will be a cure for this all encompassing disease.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Be Present

Be Present. describe something with as much sensory imagery as you can. It can be scene (a peaceful one is what the original prompt said). What are the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings? Feel free to draw upon a particular story or moment or place that means something to you. Use lots of description and “show” instead of “tell” for this blog post.

Today has been a crazy day and I need to be present today more than most days, but I will accomplish it by taking the day off blogging and using the 2nd of my two "get out of post free" days. 

Ekphrasis: World Diabetes Day Geoswag

Ekphrasis (writing about another art form) - Find a Flickr Image in Creative Commons that inspires you in some way (positively or negatively) and free write about it. Give yourself exactly 15 minutes to write without stopping. Don't think! Brave bonus: Publish without editing!

To be honest, I really had no idea where I was originally going to go with this post, so I went to Flickr, typed in diabetes, and looked at the results. On the second or third page I saw it: a photo of the front and back of the 2007 World Diabetes Day geocoin. Is a geocoin an art form? Maybe, maybe not, but oh well.

In 2007, the world celebrated the first ever United Nations declared World Diabetes Day, and in honor of that day the IDF (International Diabetes Federation) created a limited number of "unite for diabetes" geocoins and travel bugs to be placed around the world. 

What are geocoins and travel bugs, you might be asking yourself? They are a tradable, trackable item used in geocaching. Still confused? Hang in there. Geocaching is essentially a high-tech scavenger hunt. It's a "real-world outdoor treasure hunting game" in which "players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online." It is a rapidly growing hobby practiced by people of all ages around the world. In fact, at the time of this post, there are 1,582,243 active geocaches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide.

Basically, it works like this: players grab a GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone, and download coordinates for geocaches in their area, by visiting Go to the coordinates, locate the cache, and sign the logbook. Then log your find and share your experience online. Inside most geocaches you will find tradable treasures, such as toys, stickers, and other dollar store type items. In some geocaches you will also discover special trackable items, called geocoins and travel bugs. If you find one of these special items, grab it, and input the trackable number online when you post your "found" log. Then drop the item into the next geocache you find and log it again. Over time, these trackable items will travel the world.

A geocoin is a like a monetary coin, but with a special picture or symbol on it. There are thousands of different ones, including the WDD coin featured below. You'll notice on the bottom of the back side, there is an ID number, unique to each individual coin.

World Diabetes Day geocoin

Travel bugs are similar except that they have 2 parts to them. The main part is a silver rectangular piece, with the item specifics, including the trackable ID, engraved on it. Then a chain attaches the ID to an object, such as a toy, keychain, or WDD blue circle. The 2 parts have to stay together and they travel the world visiting different caches. The one featured below is my own, which we will place in a new geocache this week, in order of Dylan's 6 year diaversary.

World Diabetes Day travel bug

Geocaching is a great way to spend the afternoon as a family. Not only is it challenging and adventurous, but it's great exercise. My family has been geocaching for about 3 years now and have found caches in parks, beaches, under bridges, in trees, on telephone poles, and even on the side of a cliff. And we have cached in Canada, the United States, and Mexico! My kids love the search and discover aspect of it, and I love that it gets them outside running around and having so much fun that they don't even realize they're exercising. It's also taken us to so many new places, both near and far from our home, that we didn't know existed!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

LOL Post: An Oldie, But a Goodie

Write a post about a moment that made you laugh. Or a video, picture, blog post, or something else that made you laugh.

With winter on its way, this one is a must read. This joke has certainly circled around for years, but it still gives me a good laugh every time I read it.

Diary of a Snow Shoveler 

December 8
6:00 PM. It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had. Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life.

December 12
The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment. My neighbor tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14
Snow lovely snow! 8" last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way.

December 15
20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16
Ice storm this morning. Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like heck. The wife laughed for one hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17
Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20
Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling. Took all day. Darn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22
Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white crap fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to poop. By the time I got undressed, pooped and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter; but he says he's too busy. I think the jerk is lying.

December 23
Only 2" of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she nuts!!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24
6". Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the man who drives that snowplow I'll drag him through the snow by his nose and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the snowplow.

December 25
Merry -bleeping- Christmas! 20 more inches of the slop tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26
Still snowed in. Why the heck did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27
Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze, plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28
Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. THE WITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29
10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30
Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver he is now suing me for a million dollars not only the beating I gave him but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up where the sun don't shine. The wife went home to her mother. 9" predicted.

December 31
I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8
Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"Best of" Post: Dear Seizure

Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.

"Dear Seizure" is a post I originally wrote last May, during Diabetes Blog Week. It was perhaps the most difficult post I have ever written because it forced me to remember and relive some of the scariest moments I have experienced since Dylan was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005. It's also one of my most popular posts, so in case you missed it in May, here it is again...

Dear Seizure,

To a Type 1 parent you are one of the most terrifying words, and experiences, imaginable. Luckily for most parents, you are something they will hear or read about but you will never visit them. I wish you had never been to my home, but you have, too many times. So let me tell you what I remember of your last visit, and tell you what I think of you.

You do not know me directly, but you know my son, Dylan. He is 10 and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five and a half years ago, when he was 4. Sometimes, I think of diabetes as a roller coaster ride. Up and and down, up and down, it is our personal roller coaster, and while lately the ride seems to have slowed down and and stayed pretty level, there was a period of time when the lows seemed leave the coaster track, transcend logical space, and settle in a vortex somewhere beneath the earth's crust. That is when you would visit us.

It's been so long since we've seen each other, I had almost forgotten you, or had at least buried you in a part of my brain that I could access at my will. And then I stumbled upon a poignant and emotional blog post written by Hallie, author of The Princess and the Pump, and my memories of you came rushing back. I felt as if you had just visited.

It is your first visit I remember the most,  perhaps because first impressions are so very powerful. It was August 3rd, 2007. A quiet summer evening no different than any other. And our family had no idea that we were about to experience the most terrifying event of our lives to date. The details of that specific day are a bit fuzzy, up until your visit. We'd never had problems with major highs or lows since Dylan was diagnosed, and at this time, we were still using syringes, though it would be your first visit that led us to get Dylan an insulin pump. I remember that Dylan's sugar was a bit low a few times during the day, but nothing too worrisome. Then at bedtime we tested and he was 3.0 mg/dl (54 mmol/l), so we gave him an extra snack, retested, and everything seemed ok.

Dylan went to sleep, and my husband and I went to bed a few hours later. At 2:28am, I awoke, thinking I heard one of my 3 children calling me. It was my eldest, Josh, who was 10 at the time, and shared a bedroom with Dylan. They slept on bunk beds and Dylan was on the bottom bunk. "Mom," Josh called, "Dylan is having a..." and before he could even finish his sentence, we were out of bed, racing down the hall. I ran to the boys bedroom, and sure enough, you were there in full form. Dylan was at the beginning of a full tonic-clonic seizure. He was convulsing on his back, foaming at the mouth, and his eyes were partly rolled back and glossy. I called his name over and over, but no response. You were in complete control of his body.

I rolled Dylan onto his side as best I could, while trying to console my daughter, who was 4 at the time, and sobbing, while my husband raced downstairs to the kitchen to get the glucagon shot (in hindsight, I now keep one in my bedside table). He couldn't find it. "What does it look like?" he called from the bottom of the stairs. "Hurry," I screamed, "It's in a long, thin white box."

OMG, in that brief time, I thought you were going to take him. I have never been so frightened. I sat there helplessly watching my baby seize, unable to do anything to help him. Suddenly my husband reappeared in the doorway and I felt the hugest sense of relief seeing him standing there with the diabetes supplies, while I thought, "We weren't too late." He had been unable to locate the shot itself, so he brought the entire rubbermaid container, in which we keep ALL of the diabetes supplies, upstairs, and dumped it out on the carpet. I grabbed the glucagon and began to prep it, desperately trying to remember my diabetes training from almost 2 years prior, when the nurse had shown us how to prepare the shot.

My hands were shaking so badly and everything around me seemed to be spinning. I was crying. The only thing I could think of was "please don't die, Dylan, please don't die." I tried to stick the needle into the vial and hit the metal rim instead of the rubber dam. The needle bent to a ninety degree angle, but it didn't break off. I pulled it back straight and tired again. It went in. I shot all of the water in and shook the concoction, way too quickly, and it was all bubbly and foamy. I didn't care, I was desperate and my baby was still seizing. I drew at much as I could into the syringe and when I saw that the syringe was half full, I rammed the needle into Dylan's thigh so hard that if he could have screamed, he certainly would have. I injected what fluid I had in the syringe and then repeated the process, drawing up the last bit of glucagon in the vial and injecting it into his thigh again.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the seizing slowed and then stopped. Dylan was still unresponsive, but after a few minutes his eyes started to focus and he looked at me. In that moment I knew it was finally over and you were gone. It would still be a long night ahead, as I monitored Dylan and checked his blood every 15 minutes for the remainder of the night, though within 30 minutes of the glucagon shot, he was up to 16.9 (304 in the US). Your visit left him exhausted and he vomited several times later that night.

My husband had tested Dylan while I administered the glucagon and his sugar was 3.7 (or 66 for those in the US), which is low, but not that low. He had been lower before without any problem. We later learned a number of things from your first visit. First, upon the beginning of a seizure the liver releases a shot of stored glucose into the bloodstream, so our reading of 3.7 told us what Dylan's sugar level was AFTER this liver glucose shot, not before. Second, always keep a glucagon shot within reach. Third, Dylan has, what his endo calls, a low seizure threshold while sleeping. This means that he is prone to nighttime seizures and that a low blood sugar that is easily treatable during the daytime, is much more dangerous for him at night.

You have visited us twice since that summer night in 2007, with your last visit being in the summer of 2009.As much as I dread the possibility of you ever visiting again, I am grateful to you for one reason. That you do visit. Some children do not receive your visits. Dylan is lucky, in a way, because your visits save his life. For some unknown reason, you are his body's last resort; it's way of alerting us that something is terribly wrong. Without you, his blood sugar would slip lower and lower and he would fall into a coma, or worse, and we would not know anything was wrong until it was too late.

I am a D-Mom. I am strong and determined, and unwavering. I will never give up fighting for my son, and you will never beat me. But I will also be eternally grateful for your help in saving my son's life not once, not twice, but three times.

Thank you,


Friday, 18 November 2011

F**kin' Perfect

A Comment as a blog post. Pick someone else's post (from the past or from today) and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your blog post for today. Link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

It's human nature to strive for perfection. An innate quality within us all, we cannot help but compare ourselves to other and then judge ourselves based on how we "measure up" against our peers. This same theory applies to diabetes care. As parents we aim to provide the best possible care for our children, but we always feel like we could do more, be better. And there will always be another d-parent who seems to have it all figured out; who manages to weigh every carb, test before every meal and snack, never sleep through the alarm for night time tests, stay on top of it all. When we compare ourselves to them, we cannot help but feel like we're not doing as much as we could. 

But we are. "Perfect" diabetes care is an illusion; a mirage that we can chase and chase, but that we will never attain. Diabetes is different in every person and all we can do at any given time is our best. And be okay with that.

I read a post from a fellow d-mom yesterday that I really connected with. Laura of "Houston...We Have a PROBLEM" wrote a post entitled, "Confessions of a D-Mom." Her honesty about not being "perfect" all the time was so refreshing. In her list of 50 truths, I could relate to most. We have ALL been there at one point or another and I loved that she wasn't afraid to say hey sh*t happens and we just have do our best with what we have. At the end of the day we need to be able to go to sleep knowing that we did good. (At least until that 2:00am alarm goes off, right...?)

Thank you Laura for your honesty. There are so many items on your list that I can relate to. I find it so refreshing to learn that there is another d-mom out there who gets that we can't always be perfect. That diabetes is a roller coaster and sometimes we need to just hold on and enjoy the ride without letting it take over our lives. Great post.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Let It Go

What's something that bothers you or weighs on you? Let it go. Talk out the letting go process and how you're going to be better to yourself for it.

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. courage,security, calm, intrepidity.

Fear weighs on me every minute of every day. It is part of the reality of having a child with type 1 diabetes. It is the panic I have when I enter his bedroom in the middle of the night to check his blood glucose level and pray that he is still alive. It is the voice in the back of my mind that worries about long term side effects of high blood sugar readings. It is the never ending concern that he will have a low and won't be able to treat it in time. It is the dread of him getting the flu, or any other illness that could potentially put him into the hospital. It is the horror of watching him have a hypoglycemic seizure and rushing the inject him with a 2 inch needle in order to save his life. It is the doubt in my mind that always asks me, "Am I doing enough?" It is a trepidation about his health that never ever goes away.

I carry my fear like a weight on my shoulders, wherever I go. I wish there was a way that I could let it go, but I can't. As long as Dylan has diabetes, my fear will remain.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Write a list post with 10-15 lines that each start with "I think I can..." Write 5 lines at the end that start with "I know I can..."

I think I can be more vigilant with Dylan's diabetes care.

I think I can do some more volunteer work with JDRF.

I think I can reduce my stress level.

I think I can eat healthier.

I think I can ride my bike across Canada.

I think I can complete my first triathlon.

I think I can manage my time better.

I think I can blog more.

I think I can visit with friends and family more often.

I think I can be present more.

I know I can spend more quality time with my kids.

I know I can be a better wife.

I know I can teach Dylan to test his blood sugar more often.

I know I can run a marathon.

I know I can live every day to its fullest.

This One's For You, Baby

Dedicate a song to your condition. Why did you pick that song? Find a youtube video or link to a version to embed in your post.

I am not what one would call "musically inclined;" far from, in fact. I don't play a musical instrument, and I couldn't carry a tune vocally if my life depended on it, yet I have always loved listening to music. The ability of music to evoke certain emotions, attachments, and memories, is fascinating to me, so I was super excited when I saw today's prompt!

My immediate reaction was to go with "Fix You" by Coldplay. Such as great song, and it always makes me think of Dylan. But that's a pretty standard choice I think.

Dylan is the opposite of me when it comes to music; he has a gift. He loves music, plays the saxophone, and is teaching himself how to play the piano. He also sings, both solo and in a group, and has a terrific voice. So I thought, what might Dylan choose as his song? 

There a local group here who has recently made it quite big in the music scene. They have won numerous awards in Canada, and I believe they get quite a bit of airplay in the US as well. The lead singer of the group auditioned for "Canadian Idol" a few years ago and made it to the final three, but never had any interest in winning; he successfully used the show as a platform to kickoff his band, Hedley. Since then, they have had numerous hits, the latest of which is entitled, "Invincible," which is about overcoming life's obstacles. It is about being yourself, and being proud of who you are, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, weight, or medical condition. It is about letting go of the belief that we must be a certain way, and accepting the fact that we are perfect exactly the way we are.

Invincible Lyrics:
Took a long hard look at my life
Lost my way while I was fighting the time
A big black cloud, stormy sky
Followed me, oh I was living a lie
So heartless, so selfish, so in darkness
When all your nights are starless
You're running outta hope
But I found the strength inside to see
Found the better part of me
And I'll never let it go

I've come a long, long way
Made a lot of mistakes
But I'm breathin’, breathin’
That's right and I mean it, mean it
This time I'm a little run down
I've been living out loud
I could beat it, beat it
That's right, cause I'm feelin’, feelin’
Oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh

When you're gone for a day [Gone for a day]
On your own [On your own]
Tear your heart out just to find your way home
I've been so high [Been so high]
I've sunk so low [Sunk so low]
I've come so far, with nothing to show for it
Mistaken, I got so good at taking
But now I'm tired of faking
This story's getting old
So I found the strength inside to see
From the better part of me
And I'll never let it go

I've come a long, long way
Made a lot of mistakes
But I'm breathin’, breathin’
That's right and I mean it, mean it
This time I'm a little run down
I've been living out loud
I could beat it, beat it
That's right, 'cause I'm feelin’, feelin’
Oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh

I'm not the only one
That crashed into the sun
And lived to fight another day
Like a super nova
That old life is over [Is over, is over]
I'm here to stay
Now I'm gonna be
Oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh

I've come a long, long way
Made a lot of mistakes
But I'm breathin’, breathin’ [I’m breathing]
That's right and I mean it, mean it [Mean it]
This time I'm a little run down [I’m a little run down]
I've been living out loud [Living out loud]
I could beat it, beat it
That's right 'cause I'm feelin’, feelin’
Oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh
Oh oh oh oh oh-oh

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Elevator Blog

Imagine you are on an elevator and someone asks you about your blog. Summarize it for a 30 second elevator ride, a 1 minute elevator ride, and a 2 minute elevator ride.

30 second version:

Blood, Sweat & Carbs is a random collection of thoughts about the 3 things I am most passionate about: diabetes, exercise, and cooking. The majority of the posts are diabetes related and focus on the trials and tribulations of raising a child with type 1 diabetes and how it affects our family, and our lives in general.

The 1 minute version would include the above description, plus...

I strongly believe that a healthy lifestyle is a critical part of successful diabetes management, so I also include posts about incorporating fun exercise into daily life. From time to time I share some of my family's favorite healthy recipes too.

The 2 minute version would include the above 2 descriptions plus...

In no way do my opinions replace those of a doctor or diabetes educator. I am a mom, and an external pancreas, and my thoughts are simply based on my personal experiences.

Living with diabetes can feel like a roller coaster ride at times and my blog gives me a way to vent, praise, laugh, and cry, at this disease. It is the way I process my thoughts about diabetes and if others find connection, help, or simply a good laugh, by reading my blog, even better.

Monday, 14 November 2011

World Diabetes Day 2011 ~ Open A Book

Open a book. Point to a page. Free write for 10-15 minutes on that word or passage.

Today has been an emotional day. It is World Diabetes Day, and the anniversary of Frederick Banting's birthday and I have found myself thinking about diabetes constantly today. Yes, diabetes occupies my thoughts for a large portion of every day, but today it's different. Today my focus has strayed from the typical worry about Dylan's blood sugar levels and carbohydrate intake, to an overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards the  man who discovered insulin, and thus subsequently saved my son's life. Without Banting, Dylan would not be alive today. Period.

So I thought it fitting to choose a passage from a book about Banting for today's prompt. I am currently reading "Breakthrough; Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle" by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsburg. I am only about halfway through the book, but I flipped ahead and picked a passage, that I believe is perfect, for today's post. The passage describes the conversation between Banting and Hughes the first time they meet. Banting is performing a basic medical examination of Hughes, then 14 years old, and she, in her precocious manner, is asking him more questions than he is of her. Approximately halfway down page 197, the text reads, 

Banting dragged the chair from the desk over to the examination table. He turned it around and sat on it backward, resting his arms over the back. He looked seriously at Elizabeth.
"How do you feel generally?"
"Besides that."
"How long have you felt this way?"
"Three years and nine months." Elizabeth turned serious for the first time during the examination.
"You look sick but you don't act sick. Why is that?"
Elizabeth took a deep breath and leveled her gaze at the young doctor. 
"Dr. Banting, have you ever known something, just known it in your bones? And even though everything may seem to point to the opposite, you still know it's true?"
"As a matter of fact I have."
"Well I know that I am going to get better. Do you believe me?"
"Yes, I do."
Banting nodded solemnly.
"Then you're the first one ever."

A mere minute or two later, Banting proceeded to inject Elizabeth with her first ever insulin shot. The first of over 42,000 such shots she would receive in her lifetime; more than anyone on earth at that time.

The honesty and simplicity of this passage speaks to me. Not only as a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, but as a human being, because against all odds, even after living on a starvation diet for over three and a half years, Elizabeth believed in her recovery. And, perhaps equally important, so did Banting. There was never a doubt in either of their minds that the newly discovered treatment would work. They had so much hope, and it paid off.

Diabetes is a scary disease. It can be terrifying at times, but I can't help but think about Elizabeth and how she must have felt in those first few days of treatment, as she rapidly gained weight and began to eat foods forbidden for the previous three and a half years. She believed in Banting. So did her parents, and soon after so did the thousands of other children and adults living with diabetes.

Fast forward to today, over ninety years later. We are still using the same basic treatment for type 1 diabetes and it's still working. Still saving lives. Every single day.

Thank you Frederick Banting, and happy birthday.