Monday, 30 April 2012

Word Fun ~ HAWMC, Day 30

Today's Prompt: Create a word cloud for your health condition. 

I already did this back on Day 7 of HAWMC, so I thought for today I would do a little diabetes acrostic.

D - Diabetes. Defined as a disease in which the body is unable to produce or use insulin normally.
I - Insulin. The elixir of life. The single most important thing for a diabetic. No insulin = death.
A - A1c. One number that shows the average blood sugar amount for the previous 3 months. The number that tells us how we're doing; our report card.
B - Blood Glucose. The thing we test 6+ times per day, treat, correct, and attempt to control. And what causes all of the problems if it gets too low or too high.
E - Eat well. A balanced diet can help maintain a healthy body weight and better blood sugar control.
T - Type 1. My son's diabetes. The one we've lived with 24/7/365 for six and half years.
E - Exercise. Helps maintain blood glucose control, combats depression and other diseases, controls weight, helps us to feel great.
S - Side Effects. What we hope to avoid, by maintain good BG control. Can include nerve damage, blindness, and kidney failure, among other things.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The First Time I... ~ HAWMC, Day 28

The First Time I... Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it?

The first glucagon shot I ever administered to Dylan was one of the scariest moments of my life. Dylan was having his second hypoglycemic seizure (though his first with me; he was with his father the first time he had a seizure). I had been trained on administering glucagon way back when Dylan was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but had never actually needed to use the shot.

The rest of this post is an excerpt from the previous post Dear Seizure. It has been adapted slightly.
"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 I was going to lose my son. 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 upstairs the entire rubbermaid container, in which we keep ALL of the diabetes supplies, 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 tried 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 the seizure was finally over. 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 mmol/dl (304 mg/dl)."

Saturday, 28 April 2012

5 Challenges, 5 Small Victories ~ HAWMC, Day 27

5 Challenges, 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Diabetes has all kinds of challenges, and parenting a type child adds a whole other unique set of challenges. So what are some of the biggest challenges? Here are just a few of my challenges, and how I keep them in check.

1. Knowing when to step back or let go. Dyl is now 11 and we've been living with type 1 diabetes for over 6 years. He's smart, independent, and responsible. But in spite of all that, stepping back and letting him take control from time to time is hard. Just this afternoon he asked if he could go up to his elementary school and meet a couple of buddies to play some road hockey in the school courtyard. My first instinct was to say no. It's Saturday, the school is closed, no one around, what if he had a low? What if...? What if...? But he needs these opportunities to show me, and show himself, that he CAN take responsibility for his health. Armed with his cell phone, BG meter, and a bottle of dex, I dropped him off and returned home. And yes, he did have a low. He felt it right away, treated it, and went right to playing hockey. That's my guy. A true rock-star.

2. Accepting that a number is just that. It's far too easy to get caught up in the numbers game with diabetes. BG tests, carb counts, A1cs - so many numbers to tell us how we're doing; whether we're succeeding or failing. But I need to remind myself over and over that a number is only that. Celebrate the good, evaluate the bad, then MOVE ON. The next number is a fresh start.

3. SWAG'ing. How many times have we gotten to a restaurant/party/event only to realize we left the meter at home? Too many to count. And how many times have we estimated carbs because we didn't have access to a scale or chart? A lot. SWAG'ing is a part of diabetes and frankly, we've become pretty darn good at it.

4. Focussing on other things. Sometimes it feels like our entire world revolves around diabetes, but there is more to our lives than this disease. Staying involved with extended family, participating in sports and school activities, and keeping an active lifestyle, helps us to live life to its fullest.

5. Accepting that I can't take this on myself. The single biggest challenge for the parent of a child with type 1 is not being able to take this disease away from their child. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish it was me instead of my son. But since I can't take it on, I arm myself with resources, I educate as best I can, and I teach Dylan how to be independent, how to take control of his disease, and how to live a long and healthy life.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Health Tagline ~ HAWMC, Day 26

Health Tagline. Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it's catchy.

I've been bouncing around ideas in my head for a few days now, and have come up with a few picks. The winning tagline is...

"Because diabetes is more than a number"

My main thought behind this was that I wanted something that could follow my blog name. I also wanted to emphasize the fact that diabetes is NOT just about the numbers. It is SO much more than numbers. It's about diet. It's about exercise. And it's about constant care and vigilance. It's about maximizing life, every single day.

So, there we have it.

"Blood, Sweat & Carbs - because diabetes is more than a number."

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Third Person Post ~ HAWMC, Day 25

Third Person Post. Write about a memory you have but describe it using the third person. Use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don't use "I" or "me" unless you include dialogue.

I am going to use my 2nd and final "Get Out of Post Free" day today and pass on this topic. Back tomorrow!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Health Mascot ~ HAWMC, Day 24

Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus, a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual. 

Diabetes doesn't have a mascot; heck it doesn't even have an official symbol. The blue circle (the one seen in abundance in November for World Diabetes Day) is about as close to a symbol as we currently have, but it's not universally used, plus it's the property of the International Diabetes Federation. As it stands, the IDF permits the use of the blue circle by anyone for the purpose of promoting diabetes and the diabetes community, and in any publications, etc., as long as it not used for commercial purposes and for anything other than diabetes. For a full explanation of the uses of the blue circle permitted by the International Diabetes Federation, or to download various sizes and formats of the circle, please click here.

There used to be a blue ribbon that was kicked around here and there, and there have certainly been a few other attempts at a diabetes symbol, but so far none has stuck. Personally, I think rather than create a mascot for diabetes, the focus needs to be on promoting the blue circle to a unified and universally recognized symbol for diabetes. I love the color, and I love its simple, yet effective message of unity within the community.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Repost - $200 Giveaway!! (HAWMC Day 23)

Day 23 of HAWMC is Health Activist's Choice, so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that I am currently hosting my first ever blog giveaway and I will be giving 1 lucky winner a $200 prepaid VISA gift card! I have reposted the original announcement below, please read it in its entirely for full details.

Originally posted March 27th, 2012

One year already, wow! On March 27th, 2011, I started "Blood, Sweat & Carbs" out of a desire to share my thoughts about raising a child with Type 1 Diabetes. I didn't know what direction it would take, nor how long it would last, yet 1 year and 12,000 hits later, here we are!

I've known for a while that I wanted to do something big for the blogiversary; a special thank you to my readers for their ongoing support, love, and comments. Then I stumbled upon Accu-Chek Canada's "Care to Win" contest and I knew exactly what I wanted to do! Accu-Chek understands that for successful diabetes care, an awesome support crew is a huge benefit, so they want to thank those supporters. How? In conjunction with their "We've Got You" campaign (for more details on the campaign itself, read my earlier post here), Accu-Chek Canada is currently running a contest on Facebook in which they are giving away $200 to one lucky winner, every week for 8 weeks, and a grand prize of a $3500 getaway (click image below to enter). In return, they are asking fans what they would do with the $200 if they won.

So what would I do with $200? Give it to you, dear reader. In fact, that is EXACTLY what I am going to do. Starting today, March 27th, 2012, I am launching my first ever blog giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a $200 prepaid credit card!! The contest is open to anyone, and all you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post, before midnight (PST), May 6th, 2012, telling me what you would do if you won the $200. Be sure to include your name in the comment. Any comments without a name will be eliminated.

But that's not all. After leaving a comment on this post, earn up to 5 extra entries by doing any or all of the following:

1) Follow Blood, Sweat & Carbs via Google Friend Connect (1 extra entry)
2) "Like" the brand new Blood, Sweat & Carbs Facebook page (1 extra entry)
3) Share this post on Facebook (1 extra entry)
4) Follow @bloodsweatcarbs on Twitter and tweet about this contest (1 extra entry)
5) Blog about this giveaway (and send me the link!) (1 extra entry)

The lucky winner will be randomly selected, May 7th, 2012, via draw at Once drawn, the winner will have 72 hours to email me at to claim their $200 prepaid credit card or a new winner will be randomly selected.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Things We Forget ~ HAWMC, Day 22

The Things We Forget. Visit and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

I always keep a few motivational quotes around to keep me going when times are tough. Below are some of my current favorites.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mad Lib ~ HAWMC, Day 21

Health Madlib Poem. Go to languageisavirus.cgi-bin/ and fill in the parts of speech and the site will generate a poem for you. Feel free to post the Madlib or edit it to make it better.

Mine came out making NO sense whatsoever, so I changed a few words around, so it reads a bit coherently.

Diabetes Madlib
I bolus my meals and insulin balances my carbs
I treat my highs and lows and all is steady again.
(I test and I treat my failed pancreas.)

My bg goes down and I'm in shaky and low,
Fast-acting sugar refills my blood:
I poke with a lancet and my tester spits out numbers.

I count and I weigh every last bite
And inject into me, via pump, my life source.
(I test and I treat my failed pancreas.)

From diagnosis, endocrinologists monitor.
Syringes for ketones, A1C for reports
Juice for my lows, pump for the rest.

I eat dex, I retest, I wait, and I SWAG,
If wrong, I am thirsty and need to correct 
Ketones beware, more insulin I need.
(I test and I treat my failed pancreas.)

I should have changed my infusion set instead;
At least when tubing is clean it dispenses ok.
I bleed into my tester again and again.
(I test and I treat my failed pancreas.)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Towards a Cure ~ HAWMC, Day 20

Write a news article on a miracle cure. What's the cure? How do you get there?

I have to admit, I don't like this topic. Don't get me wrong, I would be ecstatic with the announcement of a cure for type 1 diabetes, but we're just not there yet. That being said, there is a ton of research going on right now and any one of the current projects could result in something magical. Here are a few highlights...

A few weeks ago I attended JDRF's "Team Captain Power Lunch" for their upcoming Walk to Cure Diabetes on June 10th and Dr. Jeffrey Matthew, the researcher who launched the Canadian Clinical Trial Network, was one of the speakers. He briefly summarized the highlights of the 45 human clinical trials currently being funded by JDRF in Canada alone, and explained that the focus is currently on how type 1 occurs and where in the process researchers could step in with prevention or a cure. The single biggest stepping stone at this point is money; the current cost to take each individual drug from initial research to human clinical trials is approximately  $1 billion! He was extremely optimistic about the 20+ drugs currently being used that DO cure type 1 diabetes in mice, but gave no time frame as to when/if these drugs might be available for human use. He did, however, provide a timeline for the artificial pancreas; the partnership between JDRF and Animas is well underway and they are guaranteeing the artificial pancreas will be available to the public within 2 years!

JDRF is hosting their annual Research Symposium at the Burnaby Firefighters Banquet & Conference Center this Monday, April 23rd at 6:30pm. Presenters include Dr. Richard A. Insel, Chief Scientific Officer, JDRF speaking on an "Update on JDRF's Progress to Cure, Treat, and Prevent Type 1 Diabetes." The other presenter is Chloe Steepe, Founder of Connected in Motion, who will speak about "Breathing Fresh Air Into Diabetes Education."

In other research news there have been numerous posts lately about the recent Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum, some of which describe the amazing developments towards a closed loop system for diabetes management. Check out the posts from Sara at Moments of Wonderful, Leighann at D-Mom Blog, Jess at Me and D, Scott at Scott's Diabetes, Amy at Diabetes Mine, for more info this progress (and if I have missed a post about the closed loop system from a guest at the DAF, let me know!) and here's a video (taken and ploaded by Sara Nicastro, MofW) for those who didn't attend the forum.

Research is moving faster than ever before and many exciting projects are currently underway. Could one of them finally lead to cure to a cure for type 1 diabetes? Perhaps. Only time will tell.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dinner Guests ~ HAWMC, Day 19

Who are 5 people you'd like to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

I am going to pass on this one and use one of my 2 "get out of post free" days for today's prompt. Back tomorrow!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Open a Book ~ HAWMC, Day 18

Open a Book. Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

Quite: "Your body was designed to move." From: The Book of Better by Chuck Eichten.

I love this quote, and I love that Eichten includes a chapter towards the end of The Book of Better on the importance of exercise for people with diabetes. Exercise is one of the best possible things we can do for our  bodies regardless of age, sex, fitness level, or health condition. The simple of act of moving the body has so many benefits.

The importance of exercise on a regular basis cannot be ignored. And I'm not talking about hard-core marathon running or extreme sports; I'm talking about going for a daily walk, riding a bike, or playing a sport. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it involves movement (ideally for an hour), is done regularly (at least 3 times per week, but daily is better), and elevates the heart rate. Simple.

Reaping the benefits is immediate and extensive too. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight, reduces stress, lowers risk of heart disease and some cancers, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, enhances sleep, combats depression, and provides energy. Not only that, the endorphins released during exercise make the body and mind feel great. Yes, exercising regularly makes us happy. Simple.

For those with type 1 diabetes, exercise has a whole other slew of benefits. Yes, it can be tricky to find that balance to get ideal blood sugar numbers before, during, and after exercise, but the benefits are too good to ignore. Exercise lowers blood sugar, thus reducing the body's need for insulin. Period. Exercise has also help reduce the massive fluctuations in blood sugar. What does this mean? It means that when moving, the blood sugar of person with type 1 diabetes stays closer to ideal range. And of course, the more the blood sugar stays in the "ideal range" the better the body feels. Simple.

Excuses for why NOT to exercise will always abound. But seriously, with all of the benefits, and the pure ease with which we can move, it's really a no-brainer. Exercise = better health = better life. Simple.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lessons Learned ~ HAWMC, Day 17

Today's prompt is entitled "Learned the Hard Way." What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

*Ironically, after Sunday's post about writing style, in which I stated how much I hate trying to blog from my iPhone, that is exactly what I am doing today. Deep breaths and patience will see it through.

I've learned a lot of lessons in my lifetime, some easily, others through pain and hardship. But after every lesson learned I have emerged stronger and wiser as a result. Seeing as this is a diabetes blog, I should write about a lesson I've learned about diabetes. There certainly are lots to choose from! I'm going to go in a different direction today though, and take a more personal approach. A very recent lesson. Immediate in fact.

Every Tuesday night my husband and I watch Biggest Loser. It's become our Tuesday night routine and I find myself looking forward to it, sad as that may seem. (Though I force myself to tune out when they see the doctor, because his constant inaccuracies about diabetes drive me mad.) I love watching the extreme transformations each person undergoes over each season, but my favorite part is the challenges. I'm always looking for new exercise ideas and the BL producers come up with some pretty cool challenges for the contestants. In the last couple of weeks, however, the show has been cut from its regular 2 hour time slot down to 1 hour, and rather than cut out some of the drama and in-house antics, they have almost entirely cut out the weekly exercise challenge. In fact, the challenge in tonight's episode was edited right out of the broadcast altogether, except for a 10 second mention by the host at the beginning of the episode. What was the challenge? The best one yet: the contestants had to complete a mini "Tough Mudder." I would have LOVED to see that. (Yes, there are videos on the Internet, but NONE are viewable in Canada). 

For anyone who has never heard of Tough Mudder, it is British Special Forces designed 10-12 mile obstacle course comprised running interspersed with 20-30 grueling obstacles. Mudders also take place in tough terrain and at high altitudes where available. Check out the video below for a sample course.

Anyway, after hearing they had completed this challenge, I mentioned to my husband how I would absolutely love to do a Tough Mudder in the near future. His response? "Pffff, (laugh) you? Seriously?"

WTF? To say that there was smoke coming out of my ears would be putting it very mildly. It was insulted, annoyed, angry, and had a range of expletives running through my brain. But then I asked him why it surprised him that I would want to complete a Tough Mudder, and he responded by saying, "Because it's so dirty. I just can't see you running and crawling through mud." Oh, okay. So it's not that he didn't think I COULD do it, but rather that he was shocked I would WANT to do it. Less insulting, yes, though his reaction is totally going to fuel my fire to show him that I can and will complete the challenge.

I learned two very important lessons here. 

Lesson #1: Rather than flip out and release the bombshell of expletives I so desperately wanted to share, I bit my tongue and asked for more information. This simple act helped us avoid what could have been a huge and unnecessary argument. I need to remember that one in the future.

Lesson #2: I can accomplish ANYTHING I want to if I set my mind to it and train hard enough. I WILL do a Tough Mudder next summer. And for a practice run, I'll be participating in the Spartan Race (a similar type of event but with options for shorter distances for beginners) here in September 2012.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pinboard ~ HAWMC, Day 16

Pinboard. Create a pinterest board for your health focus. Pin 3 things. What did you pin? Share the images in a post and explain why you chose them.

I've been looking forward to this prompt all month! I already have a Pinterest account with a board dedicated to diabetes, so I've added a few new pins today. To follow me, check out all of my diabetes pins, and my other boards, go to

The Wordle I created for a post a few days ago

Insulin over the ages

Glucagon instructions

First insulin pump, made in the late 1970's

My "Keep Calm" poster from a few days ago

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Writing With Style ~ HAWMC, Day 15

Halfway! Today's prompt: Writing with Style. What;s your writing style? Do words just flow your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

Hmm...I can't say I've ever really thought about where and how I write. For the most part, the words do just flow from my mind to my fingertips. In fact, I write like I talk, meaning that most of my posts are stream of consciousness type posts, documenting what I am thinking at any given time. 

I do have a few writing patterns. I never handwrite or print anything on paper beforehand; always electronically only. I have written a few posts on the blogger app on my iPhone, though the screen is so darn small, I find it too time consuming, not to mention frustrating. For the most part, I write from the desktop in my dining room at home. 

Titles and topics vary. Sometimes I start with the title, though commonly it's added midway or at the end of the post. As for topics, when I sit down to write, I usually know what direction the post will take. Most posts are spurned from something that has happened that day, or within the past few days. Occasionally I don't have an idea, in which case I just start typing and see what materializes, but that is rare; I have a ton of topics in mind and keep a running list of ideas in the notes of my iPhone, so whenever I'm lacking an idea, I grab one from there.

I would love to get an iPad and write from a more serene location, such as the beach or the park, but for now, desktop it is!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

My Dream Day ~ HAWMC, Day 14

Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not, how could you make it happen?

I was going to use today as one of my 2 "Get Out of Post Free" days, but I changed my mind. What intimidated me about writing this post, was narrowing down ideas to one single day. There are so many things I would love to do, and plan to do in the future, deciding on just one is a challenge. In fact, I have two very different "ideal" days.

The first would entail a day with the family: me, my hubby, and the kids. We would wake up to warm, sunny weather, followed by a lovely breakfast which I'd cook. We'd then head outside for a long relaxing ride around the Stanley Park seawall, through English Bay and Yaletown, and over to Kitsilano for a picnic and some tennis. On the way back we'd ride back along an alternate route - via downtown Vancouver, through Coal Harbour and back to the Stanley Park seawall for the east half. Once back home, we'd enjoy a barbeque, eat dinner on the deck, and watch a nice family movie together. Great food, exercise, sunshine, and quality family time together - I can't think of any way I'd rather spend a summer day. Oh, and Dylan would have perfect blood sugar numbers all day :)

The second would a day with just me and my hubby. We rarely get any time alone together, and when we do there are always so many other things to do - errands, cleaning, work, etc - that the time is never really ours. An ideal day would have to involve time some serious time alone, in the form of a tropical vacation. I get up very early on vacation (never want to waste a single minute) and run every morning, on the beach if possible. So after a long run, we would enjoy a luxurious breakfast together and a quiet morning at the beach reading, swimming, and soaking up some sun. The afternoon would take us on an excursion, perhaps a nice hike, and we would end the day with a romantic dinner on the beach, followed by a moonlight beach walk.

My first "ideal day" above, I have actually never had, even though it is all within a close radius of our home, and straightforward to arrange. We simply need to make it happen! This summer for sure! The second day we have done (with a few minor changes) on a few occasions, just not for a while. Life seems to keep getting in the way. I am determined to change that and have this day soon too.

Friday, 13 April 2012

10 Things I Couldn't Live Without ~ HAWMC, Day 13

10 Things I Need (or Love) Most:

There are very few things I actually couldn't live without. In fact, numbers 1 and 2 on my list are the only ones. Numbers 3 through 10 bring joy to my life, but I could do without if I had to.

1. My family - My unbelievably awesome kids and hubby are my favorite things in the entire world. I have a pretty amazing extended family too - I am VERY lucky to have them all.

2. Diabetes supplies - I could easily live without D supplies, but Dylan couldn't, so they have to be high up on the list. 

3. Exercise - My release, my joy, my favorite past time. Exercise clears my head, reduces my stress, and keeps my body functioning at its best. 

4. Cooking - The one area of creativity in my life. The act of cooking itself brings me pleasure. Creating something from beginning to end and watching as it brings happiness to those I love is a magical feeling.

5. Teaching - I love my job and am blessed to be able to do it. 

6. Writing - This blog has changed my life and the way I perceive and accept diabetes. I look forward to writing every day. 

7. Reading - Books are a source of great pleasure in my life. I am a sucker for constant new information and find myself craving it. I try to read daily and am currently going through a historical fiction phase. Love it. 

8. Laughter - A good tear-jerking, belly shaking, uncontrollable laugh does wonders for the head, the heart, and the soul. 

9. Nature - The outdoors are my haven. I would rather be outside than inside any day, no matter the season. It reminds me that I am alive and that we are all connected. 

10. It's a tie between coffee and my iPhone - I had to throw a couple of material things on my list. My morning coffee is one of my favorite parts of the day, and my iPhone...well...I could live without it, but I wouldn't want to :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Stream of Consciousness ~ HAWMC, Day 12

Stream of Consciousness Day. Start with the sentence "This morning I looked in the mirror..." just write, don't stop, don't edit. Post.

This morning I looked in the mirror hoping that it would be a good day. Working as a TOC (teacher-on-call), every day is an adventure. A new school, new classroom, and new students brings a myriad of new challenges - some good, some not. I literally never know what I am going to walk into and today is no exception. I will be teaching in the same class today and tomorrow. I know it's a primary classroom (Kindergarten to grade 3) but I don't know which grade yet, and the school is one I have been to many times before, though not in the past few months. It is a challenging school, to put it mildly; a lot of the students come from difficult circumstances, family problems, financial issues, and a high percentage of the students have specific learning and/or behavior needs.

It is a school that can lead a teacher to really reflect on WHY they teach because this is a school where one caring teacher can truly make a difference in the life of a child. But it is also a school that can break a teacher. I need to be at the top of my game today.

Other thoughts that briefly ran through my mind this morning included:

  • What the heck happened to the Vancouver Canucks last night? In an embarrassing playoff series opener, my team, the President's Cup winners, lost to the L.A. Kings, the eighth place seed. Too many penalties, injuries to key players, and perhaps a bit of overconfidence, did them in. Here's hoping they turn it around.
  • Spring has finally arrived! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and it's finally warm outside. Time for a pedicure.
  • I hope my daughter is having fun. She's away at an outdoor camp with her grade 3 class. She has been looking forward to it since grade 1, and I'm sure she's having a fabulous time, but I miss her terribly and can't wait to see her tomorrow!
* Late addition: my class was terrific and I had a lovely day. I am excited to be back there again tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Diabetes Theme Song ~ HAWMC, Day 11

Today's prompt: Your theme song. Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it played to?

A theme song for diabetes would have to be upbeat, inspirational, and memorable. It would need to instill feelings of hope, while emphasizing the potential unity of the diabetes community working together towards a common goal: a cure for type 1 diabetes.

My diabetes theme song is entitled "I Believe." It is performed by French Canadian jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky and was the official Olympic song used by the Canadian television network that broadcast the 2010 Olympic Winter Games here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. While the poignant lyrics were written to describe the long and lonely journey taken by athletes striving to compete in an Olympic games, they could easily be applied to the ongoing battles faced by the millions of people affected by diabetes worldwide.

Here is the video, and the lyrics are below:

There comes a moment when my heart must stand alone
On this lonely path I've chosen
Like a house that's not a home
Sometimes when I feel I've had enough
And I feel like giving up
You willed me to be all I can be
Now nothing can stop me

I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

This is the moment we have dreamed of all our lives
We'll be the change we wish from others
We'll stand tall for what is right
And in my heart, there'll be no doubt
The arms of the world will come reaching out
And embrace me to be all I can be
Now nothing can stop me

I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

I believe the time is right now
Stand tall and make the world proud
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I
I believe in the power of you and I

I believe, I believe, I believe in...
I believe, I believe in...
I believe, I believe, I believe in...
I believe, I believe in you
I believe, I believe, I believe in...
I believe, I believe in you
I believe, I believe, I believe in you

I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

I believe the time is right now
Stand tall and make the world proud
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power...

I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one (of you and I)
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I (I will)

I believe the time is right now
Stand tall and make the world proud
I believe together we'll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Dear 16-Year-Old Me ~ HAWMC, Day 10

Today's HAWMC prompt asks bloggers to write a letter to their 16-year-old self. Instead of redoing this one, I have decided to repost a letter I wrote to my 18-year-old self as part of the National Health Blog Post Month challenge last November. 

Original post: November 3rd, 2011.

Dear 18 year old me,

Where do I begin? 18 is a big year for you; the year your life is going to start moving VERY fast. You'll move out of the house this year, start university, and meet 3 people who will play critical roles in the rest of your life.

You will make some big decisions this year that will alter the path of your life forever. Some of those decisions are good, and will bring you so much joy. Some, however, will cause you horrific emotional pain and lots and lots of stress, but you will emerge stronger, I promise. I could tell you what to avoid, or how to make it easier in the next 8 years, but you NEED to experience it all in order to get to where I am today.

So here are some highlights to look forward to in the next few years...

- You will meet your first husband this year. He is not the one for you, and you will know this early on, but you will stay married until you know the time is right to leave. It will be an ugly marriage, and an even uglier break-up, but he will give you two phenomenal sons who you will love more than life itself, and through your struggles, you will learn a great deal about yourself. Your first son will be born when you are twenty and finishing your first year of university. He'll be an amazing baby, who doesn't sleep much, but fills your heart with love. He will grow fast, faster than most in fact, and will become an amazing young man who is gentle, sweet, and kind. The second will be born in 2000 and will be a happy, fun-loving boy who will look just like you. He will be very strong in character and mind, and passionate about life. In 2005 he will be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, turning your entire world upside down. But together you will learn how to manage it and you will tirelessly fight for a cure.

-You will meet your best friend this year, who will, 10 years from now, become your husband. He IS the one. Your relationship will begin as friends and over the years you will become closer and closer, blossoming into something deep and magical. You will marry and have a beautiful daughter together, and be very happy. Treat him well and appreciate him every day, he is truly special and the love of your life.

-And are you sitting down? You will find, and meet, your birth mother this year and begin what is one of most fulfilling and rewarding relationships you will ever know. Treasure it.

So a bit of advice...

-keep your head up, especially when times seem tough. You will get through it.
-don't sweat the small stuff, it's just not worth it.
-take time to enjoy each and every day. Life is too short and passes too fast.
-tell those you care about how you feel, often
-take care of your body and your mind
-remember that anything is possible, no matter how hard it might seem at first
-believe in yourself

Monday, 9 April 2012

Keep Calm ~ HAWMC, Day 9

Today's Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge prompt is to create our own "Keep Calm" poster specific to our health condition. Sounds easy right? Not so much. The simpler the message, the more effective the result, but it's hard to choose just a couple of words to sum up your condition. I wanted to change only one word (fourth line), to stay as close to the original as possible. I thought about doing something related to bg testing, or carb counting, but then settled on this.

There have been so many great ones created today! Check them out at WEGO Health.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Best Conversation I Had This Week ~ HAWMC, Day 8

Strangely, the best conversation I had this week was tonight, after Easter dinner. While at a small family gathering we got into a brief discussion about type 2 diabetes and its causes, and I quickly discovered that misinformation exists, even among family. 

An immediately family member on my husband's side has recently (a few months ago) been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After a few months of paying attention to diet and limiting high sugar/high fat foods, he has lost weight and reduced his need for oral medication by 25%. He is doing fabulously, and has adapted very well. Yet he was telling me how a nurse at the diabetes clinic had recently informed him that even if he loses more weight, eliminates his need for oral diabetes medication, and stabilizes his blood sugar, that his type 2 diabetes will never go away. The symptoms may disappear, but he will ALWAYS have type 2 diabetes. FYI - This was a direct contradiction of what he had been told at diagnosis, so thanks to that diabetes educator/nurse for setting the record straight.

He then went on to say how there have been numerous cases of type 2 diabetes in my husband's family, both on his maternal and paternal sides, thus greatly increasing the risk to other family members. At this point, a third person joined the conversation, casually inquiring about his personal risk. I explained that there are a number of factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, particularly genetics, obesity, age, and race, and that his particular risk would be considered low because he is not overweight, exercises regularly, and is relatively young. Yet, he is hispanic (the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is 15% in people of hispanic descent, as opposed to 6% in individuals of caucasian descent) and carries a genetic disposition to the disease. I then said that the best way to reduce his risk is to continue to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight, particularly as he gets older. But, I said, there are no guarantees. Genetics dictate that even with the best prevention, he may still develop type 2 diabetes at some point in the future.

At this point, the conversation shifted as two other family members jumped in and contradicted what we had been discussing, stating that as long as he exercised regularly, there was no chance he would EVER develop type 2 diabetes; that type 2 diabetes is caused by poor diet and a lack of exercise. 

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on a minute, are you effing kidding me? My own family? Tell me it isn't so...

I certainly do not claim to be any kind of medical professional or diabetes "expert," but with a son who has had type 1 diabetes for over 6 years, I've read a ton of diabetes literature, attended dozens of conferences and research symposiums, and have tried my absolute best to educate my family and friends about diabetes. And part of that education has been with a focus on eliminating myths and the spread of misinformation. If ANYONE in my family still believes that diabetes, be it type 1 or type 2, is caused entirely by lifestyle factors, I have clearly failed in my efforts to educate.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Diabetes Wordle ~ HAWMC, Day 7

Today's prompt: Health Activist's Choice. 

Special thanks to Becky at Pancreas Fail for posting about this awesome website, called Wordle, that makes these cool images (below). Use your own words, or randomly generated words from any blog or website with an RSS feed, and bam! Super easy! Mine is a randomly generated image, using words that have recently appeared in Blood, Sweat & Carbs.

**And dont' forget to enter the BSC giveaway for your chance to win a $200 prepaid credit card! Click here for full details.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Health Haiku & BSC Book Club March 2012 ~ HAWMC, Day 6

I'm not a poet
Though I really love to read
So bring on the books

*see what I did there? ;) 

With each passing month, my goal to read 50 books in 2012 seems less likely to be achieved, but I'm not giving up yet. As with the previous two months, I read two books in March, one about diabetes and one work of fiction. 

5. The Book of Better by Chuck Eichten

Synopsis: Over thirty years ago, Chuck Eichten was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Now he's created the book he wishes someone had given him, compiling the (sometimes unconventional) lessons he and his doctors have learned about what you should do to make life with diabetes better, and also what you shouldn't (or, as Chuck advises his readers, "Save time, learn from the idiot"). The Book of Better doesn't look or sound like any other book on the diabetes shelf. Empowering and entertaining, it covers topics like "What is Diabetes, Exactly"?; "The Bottom Ten Worst Things about Diabetes" and "The Top Three Best Things about Diabetes," and "How to Have Diabetes and Not Have a Food Obsession."

Years of living with diabetes convinced Chuck that he and others like him don't need to feel like patients when they are reading about their condition. Like anyone, they want to understand, but they also want to be inspired, amused and entertained. Diabetes may be a painful challenge, but it can also be funny, and preposterous, and an opportunity to learn. Ultimately, Chuck's upbeat message is that diabetes is something we can make better. Infused with personality, humour and empathy, The Book of Better shows how people with diabetes and their families can make life excellent.

If I were to sum up The Book of Better in one word, unconventional would be it. With snippets of information, varying fonts and text sizes, and simple illustrations, all in tri-color ink, Eichten's book is kind of like graphic novel meets health brochure. The clearly labeled chapters makes it easy to jump around the book and return to applicable information at a later time, while the writing style, to me, screams teenager. In fact, as I was reading the book I kept thinking what a great resource it would be for a teenager recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It's simple, straightforward, and accurate.

I do have a few complaints with the book, however. For starters I find the format too busy and many of the illustrations a bit redundant. I also find some of the information to be inaccurate or way oversimplified. An example is Eichten's claim that, "You can make your Type 2 diabetes GO AWAY" (pg. 138), which we know is not at all accurate (while you may be able to reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it is NOT curable or reversible. EVER).

The majority of the book focusses on insulin pumps and is written on the assumption that the reader is either already a pumper, or wants to be a pumper. And while I absolutely ADORE Dylan's insulin pump and appreciate the many ways in which it has enhanced his life, I don't like the way Eichten oversimplifies the pump. On page 161 he says, "When you start to feel low, you can simply turn down the amount of insulin you are getting. And the feeling of low blood sugar goes away. I am not making this up. It actually goes away." Are you kidding me? So I've been carrying juice boxes and a bottle of dex tabs around with me for nothing? I don't think so. In fact, I know for certain that there have been MANY incidences in which Dylan's blood sugar could ONLY has been increased with fast-acting sugar. Had we not treated the low with fast-acting sugar, Dylan would have had a seizure, gone into a coma, or worse. Suggesting a low can be combatted by reducing the amount of insulin being dispensed from the pump is just plain dangerous.

Aside from those few issues, I did enjoy the book and I certainly like its youthful appeal. Definitely a worthwhile addition to your diabetes library.

6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Synopsis: A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

I am so happy that I read this novel after watching Midnight in Paris because the film provided a level of background information that enhanced my ability to visualize the story, especially the setting. Plus so many of  the literary icons, such as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, are featured in both the book and film.

The novel begins with Ernest and Hadley's courtship and subsequent marriage. Almost immediately, the reader is drawn right in to the brilliant atmosphere of 1920's Paris and the wild lifestyle of 1920's literati. One cannot help but fall in love with the character of Hadley, as she struggles between fitting into her husband's life, and maintaining a part of herself. Theirs is a life of glamour, of excitement, and of great friendships.

But when their son is born, the reader knows serious problems are imminent, as Ernest makes no secret about not wanting children at this point in his life. And when the character of Pauline enters the story we know it is only a matter of time until her affair with Ernest. After all, she later becomes his second wife.

I found myself stalling, not wanting to reach the end of the book and encounter Hadley's inevitable heartbreak. At the same time, however, the realistic account is too good to put down.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Ekphrasis ~ HAWMC, Day 5

Day 5 of WEGO Health's blog carnival asks for an ekphrasis post. "Ekphrasis" is writing about an image, in this case a random image found on Flickr.

The above image is entitled "plum blossoms #10." What a gorgeous shot! I love spring blossoms, especially fruit tree blossoms. The image reminds me that in a couple of weeks we will begin the "Cherry Blossom Festival" here in the Pacific Northwest, as the local cherry trees become packed with beautiful pale pink blossoms. The sun's rays coming through the higher blossoms give a feeling of hope and of the fresh start spring provides us, while the blossoms themselves are symbolic of the cycle of the life and of new beginnings.

Diabetes and plums, or any fruit for that matter, have a love hate relationship. The fast acting sugar in a piece of fruit can be a lifesaver, quickly bringing up a stubborn low. But when eaten for taste, or simply for pleasure, the same piece of fruit can cause an unwanted spike in blood glucose. 

Regardless, those blossoms sure are pretty.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Catharsis ~ HAWMC, Day 4

Today's prompt: I write about my health because...

Why do I write about my health (my son's health) condition? My reasons are twofold: I write for me and I write for Dylan.

I Write For Me
My blog is my journal; my diary; the place where I process my thoughts and feelings about raising a child with type 1 diabetes. There are days when I don't know what to write about, and yet once I start the words just flow out; other days I have a specific purpose for a post. I have become addicted to the cathartic power of writing. Not only is it an avenue for me to express my ideas, it is a tool that helps me to reflect on how I feel about diabetes and all that comes with it. 

Through blogging I have come to terms with my son's diagnosis, and feel a sense of peace that I never had before. It is no longer just about fighting for a cure. It is about accepting that this is the life we have been given. It is about understanding that each day is a gift. It is about knowing that I can choose to make the most of each and every day. It is about being part of something much bigger than myself (the DOC). And it is about making my voice heard.

I Write for Dylan
All of the above being said, this blog started because of Dylan and I will continue to fight for a cure for type 1 diabetes, for my son and for the thousands of individuals living with this disease. And until that cure is found, I will advocate and educate about type 1 diabetes at every chance I get. Why? Because I can't stop. I will never give up. It's that simple. 

A few years ago I gave a speech, at one of JDRF's Research Symposiums, in regards to why I walk with JDRF every year. I'm going to borrow a bit of it, as it can also be applied to today's topic. 

"When I ask myself why I walk (blog), I am always presented with the same image – the day Dylan was born. I think of that moment when the nurse put him in my arms and I held him for the very first time. I remember our first eye contact. That moment, be it very brief, felt like an eternity, and I could have lived in that moment forever. It was the moment that every mother is blessed with, when you realize that you love your child beyond all possibility, beyond all measure. And in that moment, your life is changed forever because everything you thought you knew about life, love, and what is important, is called into question and everything you thought you knew about yourself requires self-examination. In that moment the only thing in the world that matters in your child.

As parents we know that in loving our children we must also try to keep them safe. And when I think back to that first moment with Dylan, I know that I certainly never thought that keeping him safe would include safety from the immediate and long-term side effects of type-1 diabetes. But as long as it does, I will continue to walk – year after year after year – and I will never give up until there is a cure. I owe him that."

**Don't forget to enter the BSC giveaway for your chance to win a $200 prepaid credit card! Click here for full information.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Superpower Day ~ HAWMC, Day 3

Today's Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge prompt is one of my faves, asking, "If you had a superpower, what would it be? How would you use it?"

Like many of my fellow DOC peeps have already written today, it is not a matter of "if" when it comes to having a superpower. As a d-mom, I am already super-powered.

I can...

count carbs in virtually any food, on the fly

poke a straw into a juice box and hand it over to a low child while doing multiple other tasks simultaneously

survive a day at work after performing half a dozen nighttime blood sugar tests on my flu-suffering child

speak an entire language made up of diabetes terms and lingo

identify trends and recognize patterns in my child's diabetes data

count by 4's like a rock star (gotta love dex)

distribute a handful of dex tabs to my child withouut getting completely covered in sugar dust, even when he's on the ice or bouncing on the trampoline

advocate and fight tirelessly for my child

I am a(an)...

awesome external pancreas

bolussing bonanza

carb counting magician

and SWAG'ger extraordinaire

All in the day of a d-mom