Unsafe at School Reaches BC Medical Journal

Last week, the BC Medical Journal published an article called “Unsafe at School: Advocating for Children with Type 1 diabetes.”  It is my understanding that the document was created by parents and endorsed by many in the medical community.  It was a huge feat to have this reach such a publication.  It added weight to the argument that children with diabetes in schools do have special needs based on their medical condition. Parents are not asking for help for their children with diabetes in schools just because they are too lazy to take time off work to run to schools.  There are many more concerns here and those concerns are justified.

The article does a great job of highlighting the real impact of hyperglycemia on learning. They note that extended exposure to hyperglycemia can have a long term impact on cognitive performance.  The authors further state that because some parents are not able to get to school themselves nor are they able to get a friend or relative to go to the school to inject their child, they are put on inferior insulin regimens and the children are often forced to run high during school hours.  As previously noted, this means that the student’s ability to learn in the afternoon session is severely reduced. 

This problem could be alleviated if aides or other school staff were allowed to assist with injections or boluses.  Sadly, the article states that the BC Nursing Support Services feel that such people are not qualified to do these tasks. Personally this is political rhetoric.  If this was the case, that a teacher or aide could not be trained to inject insulin or deal with glucagon, then why are we as parents, not sent home with a nurse when we leave the hospital with our child? Parents of children with diabetes come from all walks of life and all education levels and yet everyone of us is required to test, inject, and manage glucagon if the need arises. We are trained by diabetes educators and if we do not use that training we are charge with criminal negligence regarding the safety of our children. I have spoken with educator and classes of students wanting to work in the school system, most are very willing to learn and be taught to assist their students to the best of their abilities.  

I do have two small issues with this article however, but let me preface first that I know how hard it is to get consensus and that some points have to be made at the sacrifice of others.  It can often be necessary to use extremes to get the attention of those most important.

My first concern is the argument of children with diabetes being labelled as disabled.  I was recently made aware that the Human Rights Commission of Canada has chosen to recognize diabetes as a disability.  This is a very sticky area.  Many people with diabetes work very hard to show that there is nothing that they cannot do.  They have fought various organizations to prove that they are just as capable of flying planes and working in the protective services as anyone else.  They do not see diabetes as a disability.  My son would fall under this category of people.

Other people feel that someone with diabetes is disabled. They have a disabled pancreas.  The need to have an external source of insulin, to test blood and carry glucagon is not normal. The fact that a person with diabetes cannot always participate in activities because of hyper- or hypoglycemia, in some people’s mind makes them disabled.

In the US, this concept is widely accepted.  In the US, people with diabetes are considered disabled and protected both at work and in school by the American Disabilities Act.  This allows students to receive, on paper at least, protection of their rights to inject, have assistance, and be exempt from writing exams when out of range.  Sadly, schools still fail to provide their students with the proper protections, often discourage parents from implementing these plans, and are looking to remove school nurses from some schools leaving young children with diabetes in a similar situation to our own children here in Canada.

There is no easy answer.  We do need protection for our children.  We do need standard policies in place–not just for our children but for the educators as well. Staff need to understand what diabetes is.  They need to understand how each child is unique in their needs.  They need to understand that while the needs of a child with diabetes change over the years, there is a need for assistance from pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 12 and beyond. 

This was my second issue with the article.  I wished that there had been a way to expand their focus a little more.  A child who is five may not be able to inject themselves or understand how to bolus but a child of 15 may not be able to see his/her meter when are high and properly handle their diabetes care.  A child of eight may do poorly on an afternoon test because their blood sugar was high but a child of 16 may fail a provincial exam because they were also high but no one noted their blood glucose levels and waited for them to be in range to have them take that test.  Finally, a child who is 7 may not yet recognize when he/she is low and will require an adult to keep an eye out for them when the stumble on the playground and feel out of sorts.  A child of 17 needs the same protection when they stumble in the halls because they are low but are mistakenly sent to the Principal’s office for being intoxicated in school. The rights and safety of children of all ages must be protected. They all can be in dangerous situations just because they happen to have Type 1 diabetes.

I applaud the initiative and the passion of these authors. I truly hope that the legitimacy that this article gives to some of the issues children with diabetes in schools face help students not just in BC but throughout Canada.  Our concerns are real.  Diabetes is deadly.  Treatment methods are changing and schools must be able to accommodate the needs of our students, allowing them to use the best possible treatment methods in school so that they can be at their very best to learn while in the classroom.

You just never know

Recently a friend shared her daughter’s experience and I wanted to share it with you.  Its a fabulous reminder that no matter what we think or do, Diabetes is always with us.  We must always be prepared and never let our guard down.  There is no situation in which it is okay to forget a meter, insulin or extra glucose.  Things happen and when Diabetes is also in the room, normal things can be dangerous!

Hello Barb. I wanted to let you and your other readers know about something that happened to my daughter. We were staying at a hotel in Toronto last weekend. She went to the pool area for a bit, then got stuck in the elevator for 50 minutes. We rode it up to our floor, then the door wouldn’t open, then it continued up and down without opening for 50 minutes. She was in contact with the hotel people with the emergency phone and the hotel contacted our room to let us know what had happened and that they were getting her. But…it took 50 minutes. After she was released from the box she wanted to walk the 7 flights back to our floor, and the security person escorted her. The hotel went to great lengths to make up this inconvenience to us. I hold nothing against them. My reason for sharing this is a reminder that diabetes must be considered for everything we do. Even something as innocuous as an elevator ride…you don’t know how long you could be in there. Now I have another time to ask her if she has her glucose.

This experience sent shivers down my spine and I am so grateful that it was shared.  How often have we run out somewhere for just a minute without worrying too much about supplies but how often can we get sidetracked by friends, stuck in traffic or caught up in an emergency that does not allow us to get home when planned.

Diabetes does not care what situation you are in. You must always be on guard. You must always have your supplies…no exceptions because, well you just never know!


Yes, I am back on the same topic one more time and have brought along our good friend Bob the Builder because “YES WE CAN!” get Mike Fisher, snowboarder extraordinaire and person with Type1 diabetes on The Ellen Show!!!

I had planned to move on to a new and very important topic today that was sent to me by a friend but its equally important for us to keep the momentum going on this.  As I explained the other day, Mike Fisher is a great young man with amazing courage.  He appreciates what Ellen gives back to the community and hopes that by appearing on her show, he too can give even more to the Diabetes Community.  We can help him.

Many of you read and shared my first post.  Many of you have gone to The Ellen Show and asked them to put Mike on stage with Ellen.  Many of you have even tweeted about it but now I want you to do moretweet more! Share more! Get more people involved!!! Let’s make this VIRAL!! In my province, the story of a person with over 100 cats in their home went viral so why can’t the incredible story of a young man who lost his leg in a car crash, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, has become a world class snowboarder and incredible motivational speaker for young adults also go viral? We CAN make this happen!

On our way home from the George Canyon Heroes Tour, my youngest son asked me to help Mike get on Ellen. He said that we needed to do something. I promised him and my friend Sandy that I would do just that. I would blog, I would bother people I knew and people that I didn’t. I would tweet. I would post on my website. I would do all I could to get the word out.

Yesterday I made contact with a person from a major news outlet. I asked that they consider a human interest piece on this wish.  They were game!  They wanted to know how much interest I had generated thus far.  They want to interview Mike.  They want to talk to my son about why he decided that Mike should have this wish.  All is amazing except for the last part. If you remember, my son has sworn off the media.  He did he last photo shoot for a CDA follow up report almost two years ago and he swore that his time in the spot light is officially over. Its going to be a hard sell to get him to talk to the media BUT I want to be able to tell her what an amazing job the Diabetes Community and the WORLD has done to share this (maybe then she won’t notice his mumbles, grunts and attempts to end the interview before it starts).

I have heard that yesterday Barbara Walters did a piece on diabetes that was possibly her worst ever interview. She did a terrible disservice to the diabetes community and has many people terribly upset.  Let’s fix this by getting Mike Fisher on Ellen. Let him educate the masses about the realities not further extol the myths!
Please, please, please, continue to contact the Ellen Show.  Please continue to share this on your Facebook page. Please send it to your support groups and private groups asking them to help us.  Please tweet about it, blog about it, tell your friends and family about it.  I am serious…if a house full of cats can go viral then the desire of one young man to help another see his dream of dancing on the Ellen Show should also be able to reach an incredible number of people as well! 

Let’s show the world what a powerful voice we can be! We can change policies but for today, let’s just change the life of one young man and improve the way the world sees people with Type 1 diabetes with a great ambassador!

Can We Get Mike on Ellen? YES WE CAN!

For quite a few years now, I have been blessed to be a part of the Canadian Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conferences.  At these events, I get to talk to many wonderful people and enjoy conversations with amazing individuals.  It was at one of those events that I first met Mike Fisher. He was a seemingly quite young man with a sweet smile and a story that would amaze you. It was his story that brought him to the event–to inspire and empower our children.  He has continued to do so for a number of years since.

As an adventurous young teen of 18, Mike Fisher took a friend’s motorcycle for a ride.  Thanks to an error made by the driver in the car in front of him, he was in a life threatening accident that resulted in the loss of his leg.  While in recovery, he reminded his mother that his shifting leg was still good and that, to me, set the stage to show what a resilient young man he would be, could be, and is!

Mike soon was walking again and ready to take on more of life’s challenges.  His next challenge was again something he never imagined. Once again his life was in jeopardy as he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 19.  It is no surprise that Mike states publicly that this second blow was exceptionally difficult and depression did creep into his life. 

Mike is now 25, a member of the Canadian Paralympic snow boarding team, and an inspiration to many children and adults alike.  He was recently a part of the five day, George Canyon Heroes Tour sponsored by Animas.  Myself, my son, and Larry’s daughter all had the privilege of listening to Mike and the other heroes speak.

Mike still has an infectious grin and a  developing mischievous side.  George Canyon complained about him throwing his leg into George’s lap while they were flying!  Mike has become more open, more confident in speaking to groups over the years.  Besides looking forward to the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, he now also has a new goal…one that we can help him to achieve! 

Mike getting his groove on!

I never knew it before May 14th, but it seems that Mike Fisher can bust a move with the best of them! He is quite the dancer whose current goal is to be on The Ellen Show and dance with her! It is our job in the diabetes community and beyond to make this happen. Can we do it? Well in the words of Bob the Builder, YES WE CAN!

I had somehow heard rumour of Mike wanting to do the Ellen thing but I really didn’t pay attention to it until the Heroes tour. At that point, they put on music and I got to watch him perform. It was fabulous! He is great! He is entertaining and he would be a perfect fit to the Ellen Show! At the show, George Canyon asked the audience to video tape Mike Fisher and send the videos to Ellen, begging her to put him on in November for Diabetes Awareness Month. When I got home, I emailed my friend Sandy Struss and asked her if she knew “how” one went about doing this. She gave me the link and I promised her I would sent it to everyone I knew and people that I didn’t. We would make this happen!

Yes, his presence would be larger than life 🙂

There are a lot of people who do neat things. There are a lot of people who want to be on tv so what makes Mike so special you may be asking yourself.  Why should you take your time to fill out the Ellen request and share this story with your friends? 
Yes, he lost a leg–tragic. 
Yes, he has diabetes–so do a few other people. 
Yes, he battled depression–who doesn’t these days?

You would have to meet Mike to truly answer that question for yourself.  All I can tell you is that he is a sweet, charming young man.  His smile is infectious.  His laughter lights up a room.  He tells his story with honesty and raw emotion. He could easily be one on my sons and he amazes me. He makes me want to do al I can to make his dream come true….AND I happen to think that he would be another AMAZING spokesperson for people with diabetes.

You don’t have to take my word for it but if you haven’t met Mike Fisher, it would really help if you did because we really want to make this happen for him and for the diabetes community!

This is what I want you to do.  Go to the Ellen show and tell her why we need Mike on her show in November. Let her know that he can dance, has and amazing story and please, tell your story as well (you have 1500 characters).

The second thing that I want you to do is to share this post!! Spread the word! Let your friends read about Mike.  Beg them. Let them know that for a change we are not asking for money just help to make a dream come true and spread a little joy for a lot of people whose lives he touches. As I said at the beginning, Mike Fisher is a young man with a stroy that touches your heart and he is a great ambassador for people living with diabetes.

So let’s put on our Bob the Builder hats and YES WE CAN get Mike on Ellen!!!  Share!
Facebook the story, the links!
Just don’t do nothing and let’s get Mike on Ellen this November!!!

Diabetes Goes to Grad

As I had mentioned at the beginning of last week, the May long weekend was especially important for my family this year.  It was the weekend of my oldest son’s graduation ceremonies. As we now live about 10 hours apart from each other, there was a bit of travel involved to get us to the event but it was completely worth it. I was so proud of how handsome and poised he was.  He appeared to completely enjoy his day.  It was amazing for me to see him with all of his friends–now young adults, and remember so many of them as tiny, little children.

My graduate and his beautiful date

The day progressed wonderfully. Diabetes stayed in the background and the day belonged to my oldest son and his proud family. Diabetes would not stay quiet for too long however!

Because we had driven so far, we also took the opportunity to spend some time with dear friends in the area. My youngest son enjoyed traipsing through the woods and catching up with his best friend but all too soon the weekend was over.

We headed back to our hotel room and prepared to make the long trek home the next day.  As we got ourselves ready for bed one last time, my son said to me “By the way Mom, I am 2.4( 45)”  You have to be kidding? It was close to 2am. It had been a long, long week and I was exhausted. 2.4? So much for sleep.  We sat up and pretended we were awake while he ate some glucose tablets.

“Mom, there are some cookies here too. Do you think I can have them too?”

“Do you remember what Joe said? You will send your readings through the roof if you just keep eating.”


“Alright, give it a try.”  I was way too tired to argue with any conviction.

Thankfully it did not take long for the low to come back up and we all could go to sleep.  We were up bright and early the next morning and on the road for home.  Part way into our 10 hour drive, I heard those words again…”Mom, I’m low. Have you got any glucose?” 

Crap! I knew I had some somewhere but where? I dug through my purse (it could double for a suitcase so digging is really an apt term!). There were two bottles in there when we left. What did I do with them? I had a small purse that I carried during the grad. Did I forget to take them out of there? I found two lollipops and tossed them to him, hoping it would be enough. He was quite happy and felt that they should be our new “low treatment”.  Not a chance!

I realized afterwards that the glucose in my purse had been used the night before and were packed in a bag behind him.  Oh well, crisis averted…for now.

We safely made it home and Diabetes was quiet.  There have been a few more lows and a lot more activity. I know that there will be a lot more adjustments to be made in the coming weeks and a lot less sleep to be had, BUT we made it through graduation weekend and that is what counts!

Thanks Larry for being our photographer for this one 🙂

Diabetes Hero

Our last prompt for Diabetes Blog Week is to blog about a “Diabetes Hero”.  Again, there are so many of them out there.  Jeff Hitchcock remains a hero for all that he has done for children with diabetes and their parents. Without his website, I would not have met the many Parents of Diabetes who also remain at the top of my hero list. 

I have never really been one into the “hero” concept.  So many people struggle each day.  So many people do amazing things. They awe me.  They may make me proud to know them but what really is a hero? I headed off to Google once again to search for a definition. They defined a hero as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds or noble qualities.”

I began to think of my sons…first they were male so that allows them into the category but did they fit the rest of the definition? Are they courageous or do they have amazing abilities? Yes, they fit there too.

My youngest son has faced diabetes with courage every day since he was two years old.  We have had our battles but he rarely ever cried when injected. I never had to chase or bribe him to test him…until he was older.  He inserts his infusion sets with only the occasional bit of theatrics (that I am sure are well founded but I won’t tell him that).  He has faced blood tests and blood squirting across the table from “gusher” sites.  He nobly sits through diabetes conferences despite not wanting to be there.  He rarely, if ever tells me that he hates diabetes. Its part of his life. He is quiet about it. He does not like to bring attention to himself or his diabetes but that is just him. He is my strong, silent son.  

My older son doesn’t have diabetes but he has had to live with it in the house nonetheless. He has had the ability to watch out for his younger brother when in school and help teachers make diabetes related decisions.  He has gone to diabetes conferences as well and made the most of them, making friends and becoming a part of the events.  He has not grumbled much about the energy his mother puts into diabetes advocacy and knows that when he needs help on his own issues, I am there as well.  He is patient. He is kind. He is confident and outgoing. He treats his brother like anyone else.  He torments him when high.  He brings him juice when he is low. 

My boys have handled diabetes in our lives with as much poise and grace as can be expected.  They have not screamed or truly rebelled. They have made it a part of their lives, rolling with each new challenge and forging ahead. They are my Diabetes Heroes.

Saturday Snapshots

The sadness in his face kills me even now
Testing anywhere you want to go!
My son thinks that this is a real bg reading!
Possibly the most terrifying pic of me ever but LOVE the people I am with!

Forced to attend a diabetes function but as long as there is a smart phone, he can listen to everyone’s stories once again!

Joe S. has a new Olympic sport…everyone test together!!

What they should know…

What would I like people who don’t have diabetes to know? Ah the list could be long!

I recently went to a diabetes event and there was much talk about the positive parts of diabetes, downplaying the bad and making the best of each day.

I agree with that to an extent. I will never tell my son he can’t do something. I will always promote the best of life with diabetes to him. I try to expose him to people who are positive and doing great things. As with his brother, I remind him that he is smart and the sky is the limit.

This changes when I am dealing with people who have no understanding of diabetes or people who are in an arena of politics that I need to influence.  I want the outside world to understand that while people with diabetes are pilots and hockey players, that they are lawyers and nurses, they are teachers and mechanics BUT they have to take extra precautions.

I want people to know that these people who look so normal on the outside, work hard to maintain their health.  Each night they go to bed wondering if they will wake up.  This is not some abstract or unfounded fear, this is their reality. People do go low and if left undetected, these people can die. 

These people have to measure each morsel of food that enters their mouth and know its nutritional components.  They have to know how much insulin their body will require to properly use that insulin.  If they make a mistake in this math, they will have to pay the consequences.  They will experience blurred vision, head aches, and a poor attitude if they are high.  They will be shaky and not be able to think clearly if they are low.  They will appear drunk or aggressive. They will appear to be very different people from their normal relaxed attitudes.  These are the realities that they face each day.

They carry around a suitcase of supplies–glucometers, test strips, glucose, insulin pumps, syringes, CGMs, and more. They test their blood and inject themselves with insulin numerous times each day.  They stab so many holes themselves, that as Joe Solowiejczyk notes, its amazing that they are not human sprinklers with liquids squirting out all over their bodies! 

These amazing people with diabetes rarely complain.  They do things to their bodies each day that we never think of. They play God in trying to figure out what their body would normally do in each situation like when stressed, when active or when relaxing on the couch. 

They are asked to spend incredible amounts of money to keep themselves alive. Like those living with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer, the medications and devices that they require each day to stay alive and healthy may or may not be covered by insurance.  The out of pocket costs can reach thousands of dollars each month.  The stresses are incredible.

So what do I want people without diabetes to know about those who live with it? These people with diabetes are REMARKABLE! Their pancreases have quit on them but they have not quit on life.  They work harder than you and I.  They have to think about things that they shouldn’t just to get up each morning but they continue to fight each day.  Be amazed by them.  Be proud of them and most of all support them in every way you can!

Fantasy Diabetes Device

What would my fantasy diabetes device be? We already have part of it. I love, and my son completely LOVES his Cozmo.  My dream would be to be able to keep all of its amazing technology…with one addition. A cattle prod. You know, an electric shock device.

Vibrations and alarms just do not cut it.  When they go off, my son obliges and turns them off without looking or attending to the issue at hand.  I have always thought that if he received an electric shock, he would be more likely to pay attention to what caused the shock. He might even be proactive and change a site before he was warned. He might put in insulin before the pump is gasping for more. He might even…wait for it….test before the pump tells him too!

Ah yes, a little electrical stimulation could work wonders for his diabetes care! His hair may end up a little curlier than it currently is.  He may develop a bit of a nervous twitch but I am sure it would all be worth it in the end.  Don’t you??

One Thing to Improve

Today’s prompt asks  us to come up with one thing that you could improve on…and maybe start today!
One thing? That is so hard to narrow down.  I think that there are a lot of things that I could improve on.
I could be a better advocate.  I could be dedicating more hours each day to the task and working harder to see more successes.
I could put even more hours into my website and blog.  I would keep things even more updated and spectacular than they are now.  Links would be fresh and new. Articles would be engaging and I would catch the attention of more advertisers allowing me the financial resources to fully devote myself to these first two shortfalls.
More realistically the biggest thing I that I think I need to improve on is my son’s diabetes care.  I find it terribly difficult to balance between being on his case all of the time, monitoring, logging, trending, and tweaking versus allowing him the freedom to do his own thing and make his own mistakes.
I am trying to let him fall on his own more often.  I try to look at readings once a week and then calmly discuss them. I try not to completely freak when readings are not there that should be.  I make him count his own carbs most days and discuss his results compared to mine.
I still don’t worry about him testing at night. That remains my job.  I still look for the best technology for him. His only interest in technology is getting an iPhone or the latest game for his Xbox–although he does appreciate a good meter!
When he makes mistakes, I take them to heart. I get upset because I feel that I have failed more than him.  I need to let that go.  Its hard. Its hard to watch our children stumble at any time. Perhaps we could have taught them better. Perhaps….
I have to learn to let go and then accept what happens and allow both of us to learn from it. It will come…one day.