2010..its not just about the Olympics


With the arrival of 2010 many people began focusing on the Olympics in Vancouver. The hard work of athletes would soon be put to the test. The years of hard work by Olympic organizers and volunteers would be put on display for all of the world to see. I, of course, had to be different!

I was happy to see that the world would get to share in the beauty of my home province but 2010 meant something very different to me. It was the year that marked 10 years since diabetes came barreling into our lives like an elephant in a china shop. It was not invited but like any unwanted guest, it made itself quite at home and left us to pick up the pieces after its destruction. We were forced to find away to live with…to live with what? A new family member? It was that annoying stray that came in when the door was left open and refused to get back out.

For ten years that unwanted guest, that pesky stray had plagued our house. It demanded meals at set times but we learned how to get around that with advanced use of rapid-acting insulin and ultimately an insulin pump. It demanded money for its upkeep but again we fixed that one by advocating for an insulin pump program. Many of our diabetes related costs were now covered by our provincial health plan. Our grouchy stray demanded blood…literally. It won that battle but it was losing ground in other homes. As more insurance companies provide assistance, many more people who also live with diabetes are able to use Continuous Glucose Monitors and change the way they monitor their diabetes.

The constant demands of this stray called Type 1 diabetes that had moved into our lives was a strain. Each year I was reminded of that fateful day when diabetes moved in and try to claim the life of my child but I began to see 2010 as a year of promise. Diabetes made demands but look at how we were able to meet those demands? There had to be positives about this pest. There had to be something good to say and there began my quest. I would find the best things about diabetes and focus on that for the next ten years!

As I came up from my own depression and despair, I began to look around and was reminded of all of the other incredible people who were hitting this same milestone or who had already sailed passed it. I saw small children who were now becoming teenagers. I saw an incredibly amazing group of friends. There are many great lines about friends but diabetes has somehow brought me the most amazing friends that a person could ever ask for. There is Sharon who threw me a life-preserver when I didn’t know how in the world to make a two year old eat the food required to meet his insulin needs. There is Michelle who was there when we came home from the hospital to talk to and went on to become a great friend. There is Darlene and Shirley who helped round out our therapy and advocacy group. There is Stacey who ensured that we never went without supplies, who welcomed us into her home and is such an amazing friend. There is Jeff, Brenda and Laura who have given so many so much but have been there for me through some of the darkest days. There is Kim, Karen, Cheryl, Mike, Michelle, Lauren and so many, many more who have been amazing friends, wonderful confidants, and inspirations to challenge us to do more. I could go on and on and on. There are so many more of you out there who have welcomed us into your homes, who have worked side by side with us on advocacy issues and diabetes project. You have helped me to create change in the world of diabetes. You have been there with a kick when I needed it, a hug when it is required, amazing advice and a shoulder always.

Diabetes came in as an unwelcomed guest. It arrived like that annoying relative that doesn’t know when they have overstayed their welcome. It has also brought the best gift of all…friendship. I would give anything for my son and so many more not to have to go down this road called “life with Type 1 diabetes” but I would never trade the incredible friendships and amazing people that I have met because of this disease.

While the world watches the Olympics in Vancouver, I wait to return home as well but for a different reason. In August, my family will head to Vancouver to meet up with its extended “diabetes family”. Catching up with friends, sharing ideas, and loving the best part of a rotten disease. We have our own athletes and our own heroes. They don’t always have gold medals around their necks but they have captured our hearts and truly become a part of our lives.

How ’bout 11?


“Mom, you didn’t test me last night”
“Yes I did, but if you are worried about it and you are awake maybe you should be testing yourself during the night. It would be great to give me a break after 10 years.”
“A break? That’s okay.”
“But you should get used to testing yourself. If you are awake anyway why not give your old Mom a break?”
“How ’bout we go for you testing me every night for eleven years instead?”

That was the conversation I had with my son the other morning. I had to laugh to myself when he suggested that I didn’t test him. He never wakes up when I do test him unless he is high and needs to use the washroom or hasn’t gone to sleep yet when he was supposed to. This child sleeps through everything! I drizzled snow on his bare back that very morning to wake him up (after calling him and blaring music) and he continued to sleep. He used to sleep while eating a sandwich after a low. He can sleep while drinking a juice or chewing glucose tablets. Its all a little unnerving but I watch, make sure everything is chewed and swallowed and that he doesn’t choke.

The fact that he is such a sound sleeper does scare me a bit. He sleeps through the alarms on his pump so a CGMS won’t get him out of bed to treat. The only upside is that when he sleeps at a friend’s house, he does wake up to the alarm…well maybe the friend wakes up to the alarm and gets him moving. Either way, he does test when he isn’t at my house. He does wake up to the alarm when he is with his father…and then rolls over and sleeps while waiting for Dad to get up and test him.

The upside is that he is still young. He has a few more years before Mom starts to really get on his case about waking up himself. For now he is spoiled…Mom gets him up, Mom cooks for him, Mom tests him, and Mom gets his glucose for his lows. If he is really lucky he will marry a girl who will do even half of this but he may be pushing that one!

After 10 years, I am getting tired of waking up at nights and testing. I have been waking up through the night for 16 years…yes long before diabetes, so I am sure that I will continue to wake up at all hours. If I am waking up I might as well make sure that he is safe and I have tested him especially since the rest of the conversation went something like this…

“I have to be tested at night. I might go low and die if no one tests me.”

Ouch! I did clarify that he would probably just go low and worst case scenario have a seizure. Sadly he knows the reality. While some will argue that your body will kick in, you will rebound, and all will be fine except for a nasty high the next morning. This may be the case for many but my son and I have also seen a different outcome. He knows that I have had friends go low at night and never wake up again. Its not a reality that I enjoy my young child being aware of. He takes it in stride but he knows just the same. More fun with diabetes….