A Bucket of Gratitude

We all have seen how insanely popular the Ice Bucket Challenge has become.  Stories of how much money ALS has raised since this went viral versus how much money it had raised in previous years are astounding.  What is equally moving is the stories of families touched by ALS.  I dare you to watch any of them without a box of Kleenex.

Last week on the Diabetes Advocacy Facebook page, I shared with you Moira McCarthy’s thoughts on this phenomenon and whether diabetes should be doing something similar. Reading about how ALS had touched her family brought tears to my eyes and I was so glad that my son “only has diabetes”.

I have not watched many of the ice bucket videos.  I have seen a few that have auto-started on my Facebook feed but for the most part I simply have said “I hope that they are donating” and “Better them than me but it is for a good cause.”  There are a few from friends who state that they have a personal connections to ALS that I do make sure that I play.

Maybe that is why I played this next video.    It was from a Facebook Friend who had a child with diabetes who said that ALS had come to call. I was curious.  Would it be her father? Grandmother? I was sure that it would be sad but I had been following the many blessings in their lives. They had recently moved across the country into a dream house. They had enjoyed an amazing summer spent traveling throughout this great country of ours.  Life was very good for them, wasn’t it? After listening to her tell her family’s story, well let’s just say that I was again left very grateful that all my son had to deal with was diabetes.

I know that diabetes kills. I know that diabetes is serious.  I know that things can change in the blink of an eye.  In the past month we have seen depression kill Robin Williams.  We have seen countless stories of how ALS has impacted and destroyed lives.  I have seen a family devastated when a father tried to save his drowning daughter only to be killed instead. Life and death happen. We deal with the cards that we are dealt but some of us have greater challenges to face than others.

In a blink of an eye it could be worse–so much worse. Diabetes can be cruel but life with diabetes is getting better. Highs are still brutal in their destruction of the body.  Lows are still deadly especially when they happen at night or when a person with diabetes is alone. There is hope however. Technology has created major changes.

We have the bionic and artificial pancreas projects.  We have CGMs, rapid insulin, and smart pumps.  We have apps to count carbs and apps to get us out of trouble.  We have a wonderful community of people living with diabetes who get it and support us every day.  Diabetes sucks but after seeing what others live with…well I will take diabetes with a bucket of gratitude.

gratitude bucket

A Bucket of Gratitude

We all have seen how insanely popular the Ice Bucket Challenge has become.  Stories of how much money ALS has raised since this went viral versus how much money it had raised in previous years are astounding.  What is equally moving is the stories of families touched by ALS.  I dare you to watch any of them without a box of Kleenex.


Last week on the Diabetes Advocacy Facebook page, I shared with you Moira McCarthy’s thoughts on this phenomenon and whether diabetes should be doing something similar. Reading about how ALS had touched her family brought tears to my eyes and I was so glad that my son “only has diabetes”.


I have not watched many of the ice bucket videos.  I have seen a few that have auto-started on my Facebook feed but for the most part I simply have said “I hope that they are donating” and “Better them than me but it is for a good cause.”  There are a few from friends who state that they have a personal connections to ALS that I do make sure that I watch .


Maybe that is why I played this next video.    It was from a Facebook Friend who had a child with diabetes who said that ALS had come to call. I was curious.  Would it be her father? Grandmother? I was sure that it would be sad but I had been following the many blessings in their lives. They had recently moved across the country into a dream house. They had enjoyed an amazing summer spent traveling throughout this great country of ours.  Life was very good for them, wasn’t it? After listening to her tell her family’s story, well let’s just say that I was again left very grateful that all my son had to deal with was diabetes.


I know that diabetes kills. I know that diabetes is serious.  I know that things can change in the blink of an eye.  In the past month we have seen depression kill Robin Williams.  We have seen countless stories of how ALS has impacted and destroyed lives.  I have seen a family devastated when a father tried to save his drowning daughter only to be killed instead. Life and death happen. We deal with the cards that we are dealt but some of us have greater challenges to face than others.


In a blink of an eye it could be worse–so much worse. Diabetes can be cruel but life with diabetes is getting better. Highs are still brutal in their destruction of the body.  Lows are still deadly especially when they happen at night or when a person with diabetes is alone. There is hope however. Technology has created major changes.


We have the bionic and artificial pancreas projects.  We have CGMs, rapid insulin, and smart pumps.  We have apps to count carbs and apps to get us out of trouble.  We have a wonderful community of people living with diabetes who get it and support us every day.  Diabetes sucks but after seeing what others live with…well I will take diabetes with a bucket of gratitude.

gratitude bucket

Back in the Saddle

I am in heaven…night testing, bolusing, and test strips in strange places means my boy is home! Its a quick stop to buy school supplies and prepare to head back for his final year of high school, but I get to enjoy my son.

It has been almost a year since he moved away to finish his last two years of school. It has not been easy.  A very hands on Mom had to go cold turkey knowing virtually nothing about his daily care.  It still kills me.

Yesterday we splurged and hit Dairy Queen. A quick chat with Siri led us to the carb count of his monster treat.  I was scared by the amount of insulin it suggested. I know that he was a little nervous as well but we took a chance.  Despite Dairy Queen, a full supper prior, and  bag of popcorn after, when I checked him at 4:30 this morning his reading was perfect!

I didn’t really have time to celebrate however because when I grabbed his meter (which is also his pump remote), it told me that he was out of insulin! Despite his pump alarming, he was sound asleep and living on fumes. I had no idea how long his cartridge had been empty but woke him up to get it filled.  I told him that he was going to be high later. He was confident that he would be fine.

Three hours later, I tested him again.  He was right. We must have caught the pump just as it was alarming and somehow he avoided any bottom of the cartridge air bubbles because he was still perfectly in range.

He has only been here one day but his readings have been perfect. He has counted his own carbs.  He has tested (with some mom prompting of course) and his readings have been acceptable.  I don’t know what his A1cs have been like. I don’t know if this is the norm or we have been really lucky but I am going to be grateful for day one and leave it there.

I have my son here to visit. Diabetes is not getting in the way by making him miserable and unable to chat or do things with me.  He seems to be understanding how to handle “his disease” even if we do have the occasional differing of opinions on how to proceed.  Life is pretty darn good!

back-in-the-saddle

What’s in a Name?

If there is one positive thing to come out of the tragic passing of Robin Williams, its the fact that so many people are talking about depression.  There is a huge effort to help people to understand the dark insidious nature of this disease–and the fact that it is a real disease not just a feeling of melancholy that we all experience now and then.

Clinical depression is a prolong sadness that has a chemical component that most often requires specific medications to begin to improve. It requires the use of a medical doctor and can be physically debilitating.

The most interesting thing that I have read in the past 36 hours or so since I heard about Robin Williams’ passing is a debate that I hear in the world of diabetes all of the time–people would pay more attention to this disease if it had a different name.  People think of depression as fitting things like “rain on your wedding day and a free ride when you already paid” to quote Alanis Morrisette.  These are not exactly issues that lead a person to take their own life…unless they are already experiencing a much deeper pain.  There is a feeling of a need to disassociate the mental illness from the emotion.

In the world of diabetes, we see this same desire often.  People feel that the label Type 1 diabetes does not go far enough. It doesn’t show the true nature of this disease.  It does not remove itself far enough away from another condition that is often associated with poor diet and the ability to be “cured” with diet and exercise.

Personally I am always led back to Shakespeare when this debate is brought up.  “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”  Okay, diabetes is not as pretty as a rose and when you can smell “sweet” when dealing with diabetes we know that you are in serious trouble but you get the point. A name means nothing. It is all about the awareness.

Type 2 diabetes is not limited to people who are overweight. It is not magically cured by diet and exercise, but it is able to be managed that way unlike Type 1 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes will not be cured with insulin.  Wearing an insulin pump does not mean that you don’t have to think about diabetes ever again.  Misconceptions.  Fallacies. Misinformation.  It happens with every disease.

The general public is ignorant about many things. I knew nothing about diabetes until it tried to steal my son in March of 2000.  I now know more than some medical professionals but I know little about Multiple Sclerosis or other diseases. We educate ourselves to what is important to us. It is our job as people who have become experts is to educate the outside world to the important parts of our conditions.

They do not need to know how to carb count but we must work to teach the general public that there is no known cure for diabetes…unless you are a mouse.  An insulin pump does not mean that you have diabetes “really bad” and it does not cure your diabetes. It is a management tool that requires work and fine-tuning but is preferable by many to help maintain better blood glucose levels.  Myths must be debunked to create better understanding and support.

Much of the same can be said for depression. It is important that the stigma be removed–just as the stigma of diabetes needs to be gone.  No one “caused” either condition.  Both require medical attention and serious work to be able to manage.  Ironically depression is twice as common in people living with diabetes as it is in the general population and if you have depression but don’t currently have diabetes, don’t worry because people living with clinical depression are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes!

Robin Williams is getting people talking about depression. Mary Tyler Moore, Brett Michaels, and Nick Jonahs have all done the same thing in the world of Type 1 diabetes.  Our goal as people who live with these conditions each day is to make sure that the conversations do not end and to take this opportunity to educate people on the realities and dispel the fantasies.

rosePlease remember that if you are experiencing a prolonged sense of sadness that is impacting your daily routine or having thoughts of suicide, please contact a medical professional. If you are having trouble dealing with life with diabetes, a counselor or life coach may help you to find new coping mechanisms.

What’s in a Name?

If there is one positive thing to come out of the tragic passing of Robin Williams, its the fact that so many people are talking about depression.  There is a huge effort to help people to understand the dark insidious nature of this disease–and the fact that it is a real disease not just a feeling of melancholy that we all experience now and then.

Clinical depression is a prolong sadness that has a chemical component that most often requires specific medications to begin to improve. It requires the use of a medical doctor and can be physically debilitating.

The most interesting thing that I have read in the past 36 hours or so since I heard about Robin Williams’ passing is a debate that I hear in the world of diabetes all of the time–people would pay more attention to this disease if it had a different name.  People think of depression as fitting things like “rain on your wedding day and a free ride when you already paid” to quote Alanis Morrisette.  These are not exactly issues that lead a person to take their own life…unless they are already experiencing a much deeper pain.  There is a feeling of a need to disassociate the mental illness from the emotion.

In the world of diabetes, we see this same desire often.  People feel that the label Type 1 diabetes does not go far enough. It doesn’t show the true nature of this disease.  It does not remove itself far enough away from another condition that is often associated with poor diet and the ability to be “cured” with diet and exercise.

Personally I am always led back to Shakespeare when this debate is brought up.  “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”  Okay, diabetes is not as pretty as a rose and when you can smell “sweet” when dealing with diabetes we know that you are in serious trouble but you get the point. A name means nothing. It is all about the awareness.

Type 2 diabetes is not limited to people who are overweight. It is not magically cured by diet and exercise, but it is able to be managed that way unlike Type 1 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes will not be cured with insulin.  Wearing an insulin pump does not mean that you don’t have to think about diabetes ever again.  Misconceptions.  Fallacies. Misinformation.  It happens with every disease.

The general public is ignorant about many things. I knew nothing about diabetes until it tried to steal my son in March of 2000.  I now know more than some medical professionals but I know little about Multiple Sclerosis or other diseases. We educate ourselves to what is important to us. It is our job as people who have become experts is to educate the outside world to the important parts of our conditions.

They do not need to know how to carb count but we must work to teach the general public that there is no known cure for diabetes…unless you are a mouse.  An insulin pump does not mean that you have diabetes “really bad” and it does not cure your diabetes. It is a management tool that requires work and fine-tuning but is preferable by many to help maintain better blood glucose levels.  Myths must be debunked to create better understanding and support.

Much of the same can be said for depression. It is important that the stigma be removed–just as the stigma of diabetes needs to be gone.  No one “caused” either condition.  Both require medical attention and serious work to be able to manage.  Ironically depression is twice as common in people living with diabetes as it is in the general population and if you have depression but don’t currently have diabetes, don’t worry because people living with clinical depression are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes!

Robin Williams is getting people talking about depression. Mary Tyler Moore, Brett Michaels, and Nick Jonahs have all done the same thing in the world of Type 1 diabetes.  Our goal as people who live with these conditions each day is to make sure that the conversations do not end and to take this opportunity to educate people on the realities and dispel the fantasies.
rosePlease remember that if you are experiencing a prolonged sense of sadness that is impacting your daily routine or having thoughts of suicide, please contact a medical professional. If you are having trouble dealing with life with diabetes, a counselor or life coach may help you to find new coping mechanisms.

Depression and Diabetes

I don’t want to get out of bed. What difference does it make any way? I am tired. I don’t matter. I can’t take it any more. I can’t lift this dark cloud that hangs over me. I am poor company. My family is much better off without me. I don’t make a difference in the world. I am just taking up space. No one would miss me. What is the point?

Does any of that sound familiar? Many of us have had some or all of these thoughts to varying degrees. Yesterday’s passing of Robin Williams showed us that money, fame, and talent do not protect you from the devastating reach of depression. Sadly, if you live with diabetes, you are also twice as likely as the rest of the general population to be effected by depression.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders characterizes clinical depression “as having five of more of the following symptoms during a 2 week period and represents a change from previous functioning with at least one of the symptoms being a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.  The other symptoms included a diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities most of the day, may appear tearful,  significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day, psycho-motor agitation or retardation never every day, fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day, feeling worthless or excessive or inappropriate guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan or suicide attempt.  These symptoms are not brought on by medication or other physical condition and impair ones social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. ”

Everyone has those days when the world seems dark and bleak.  People living with diabetes however are cautioned by experts to watch a bit closer for signs of clinical depression in their own lives.  Gary Scheiner mentions this issue in his book “Until There is a Cure“.  He and others note that the pressure that comes with diabetes care, the need to “get it right”, and be the perfect diabetic can lead to failure and a deep sadness that can spiral into clinical depression.

We are also reminded that the people with diabetes are not the only potential victims.  Parents of children with diabetes may also find themselves in a pit from which they cannot see the light. We often experience our own guilt for first somehow allowing our child to develop this disease. There is the guilt over nagging them to test or inject.  The feelings that we are robbing our children of a “normal” childhood by forcing them to take responsibility for their diabetes care too soon can be overwhelming. The list of reasons for sadness go on in both those living with diabetes and those who care for them. The challenge is to recognize the symptoms and get help.

The Mayo Clinic feels so strongly in this that their website specifically cautions people living with diabetes to be very alert to signs of depression.  If you feel that you are suffering from clinical depression, please see your doctor.  Just as you take insulin to deal with the imbalance in your body thanks to a non-functioning pancreas, it is important to take medication that can help to work with brain chemistry that has somehow found itself out of balance as well.

Counseling, therapy, and even life coaching can help to deal with the daily stressors of diabetes care.  They can help you to deal with triggers and create coping strategies but they will not fix the chemistry if you suffer from clinical depression. If you are struggling with a diabetes diagnosis, please look for support from others. If you feel that the depression and sadness has become prolonged or overwhelming, please see your doctor. Together you can  create a plan to help you find your way forward again.

robin williams
Thank you for the years of enjoyment and sharing your talent. May you find the peace in death that you were unable to find in life. RIP

 

 

Diabetes and Depression

I don’t want to get out of bed. What difference does it make any way? I am tired. I don’t matter. I can’t take it any more. I can’t lift this dark cloud that hangs over me. I am poor company. My family is much better off without me. I don’t make a difference in the world. I am just taking up space. No one would miss me. What is the point?


Does any of that sound familiar? Many of us have had some or all of these thoughts to varying degrees. Yesterday’s passing of Robin Williams showed us that money, fame, and talent do not protect you from the devastating reach of depression. Sadly, if you live with diabetes, you are also twice as likely as the rest of the general population to be effected by depression.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders characterizes clinical depression “as having five of more of the following symptoms during a 2 week period and represents a change from previous functioning with at least one of the symptoms being a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.  The other symptoms included a diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities most of the day, may appear tearful,  significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day, psycho-motor agitation or retardation never every day, fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day, feeling worthless or excessive or inappropriate guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan or suicide attempt.  These symptoms are not brought on by medication or other physical condition and impair ones social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. ”


Everyone has those days when the world seems dark and bleak.  People living with diabetes however are cautioned by experts to watch a bit closer for signs of clinical depression in their own lives.  Gary Scheiner mentions this issue in his book “Until There is a Cure“.  He and others note that the pressure that comes with diabetes care, the need to “get it right”, and be the perfect diabetic can lead to failure and a deep sadness that can spiral into clinical depression.


We are also reminded that the people with diabetes are not the only potential victims.  Parents of children with diabetes may also find themselves in a pit from which they cannot see the light. We often experience our own guilt for first somehow allowing our child to develop this disease. There is the guilt over nagging them to test or inject.  The feelings that we are robbing our children of a “normal” childhood by forcing them to take responsibility for their diabetes care too soon can be overwhelming. The list of reasons for sadness go on in both those living with diabetes and those who care for them. The challenge is to recognize the symptoms and get help.

The Mayo Clinic feels so strongly in this that their website specifically cautions people living with diabetes to be very alert to signs of depression.  If you feel that you are suffering from clinical depression, please see your doctor.  Just as you take insulin to deal with the imbalance in your body thanks to a non-functioning pancreas, it is important to take medication that can help to work with brain chemistry that has somehow found itself out of balance as well.

Counseling, therapy, and even life coaching can help to deal with the daily stressors of diabetes care.  They can help you to deal with triggers and create coping strategies but they will not fix the chemistry if you suffer from clinical depression. If you are struggling with a diabetes diagnosis, please look for support from others. If you feel that the depression and sadness has become prolonged or overwhelming, please see your doctor. Together you can  create a plan to help you find your way forward again.

robin williams
Thank you for the years of enjoyment and sharing your talent. May you find the peace in death that you were unable to find in life. RIP

Summit Diabetes

Earlier this summer, I received an email from a young lady who was embarking on an adventure that looked really interesting. I meant to take a much closer look sooner but the email came in while I was away and then managed to get lost in my inbox.  Today I decided to seek it out again and see what she was up to.

The young lady’s name is Haley Maurice.  She is now 15 and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 7.  Her plan for this summer was adventurous for any teen but even more exceptional when you remember that she is living with type 1 diabetes.

“On July 16th, my brother Ethan and I will be backpacking 221 miles from Yosemite National Park to the top of the highest peak in the continental United States, Mt. Whitney, to raise funds for JDRF.

We’ll be trekking in this high alpine terrain for an estimated three weeks, conquering over 46,000 ft of elevation gain and venturing deep into the back country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’ll be just us out there, with only two resupply points along the way to pick up more diabetic supplies and food to fuel us for the entire duration of the hike. We’ve been vigorously training and setting up our fundraiser for the past three months and are aspiring to reach our fundraising goal of $1000 per mile ($221,000) for JDRF.”

A few days ago, I hiked a 1.7km trail that has a 500 ft decent.  That was enough of a challenge for me.  I can’t begin to imagine 221 miles and 46,000 feet with blood glucose testing, site changes, insulin adjustments, treating lows, and carrying food and shelter.  I further was not sure how I would feel if it was my child with diabetes doing this.

Silly, of course I know how I would feel. I would be nervous and proud.  I would be terrified of all that could go wrong but would trust in the other sibling to help out in emergencies. I would be proud that my child would take on such an amazing adventure for a good cause.  I am guessing that Haley and Ethan’s parents probably felt much the same way.

In looking at the Summit Diabetes website and exploring some of their social media posts, I see that the two siblings were for the most part successful in their journey. Yesterday they noted…

“We made it!!! 221 miles of hiking from Yosemite to Mount Whitney!

Unfortunately, we didn’t make the top of Whitney as a freak snowstorm nearly froze us to death this morning just a quarter mile from the top.”

What an amazing feat! I am so impressed by these young people. I am impressed by their courage, dedication and stamina.  When Haley contacted me, she was asking for only one thing, for me to share her story and that is what I hope to do here.  Please look at their video, check out their website and the amazing pictures of their adventure.  If you can, also contribute to their goal of raising $1000 for every one mile that they hiked this summer.

Congratulations Haley and Ethan!

summit

Summit Diabetes

Earlier this summer, I received an email from a young lady who was embarking on an adventure that looked really interesting. I meant to take a much closer look sooner but the email came in while I was away and then managed to get lost in my inbox.  Today I decided to seek it out again and see what she was up to.


The young lady’s name is Haley Maurice.  She is now 15 and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 7.  Her plan for this summer was adventurous for any teen but even more exceptional when you remember that she is living with type 1 diabetes.


“On July 16th, my brother Ethan and I will be backpacking 221 miles from Yosemite National Park to the top of the highest peak in the continental United States, Mt. Whitney, to raise funds for JDRF.


We’ll be trekking in this high alpine terrain for an estimated three weeks, conquering over 46,000 ft of elevation gain and venturing deep into the back country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’ll be just us out there, with only two resupply points along the way to pick up more diabetic supplies and food to fuel us for the entire duration of the hike. We’ve been vigorously training and setting up our fundraiser for the past three months and are aspiring to reach our fundraising goal of $1000 per mile ($221,000) for JDRF.”


A few days ago, I hiked a 1.7km trail that has a 500 ft decent.  That was enough of a challenge for me.  I can’t begin to imagine 221 miles and 46,000 feet with blood glucose testing, site changes, insulin adjustments, treating lows, and carrying food and shelter.  I further was not sure how I would feel if it was my child with diabetes doing this.


Silly, of course I know how I would feel. I would be nervous and proud.  I would be terrified of all that could go wrong but would trust in the other sibling to help out in emergencies. I would be proud that my child would take on such an amazing adventure for a good cause.  I am guessing that Haley and Ethan’s parents probably felt much the same way.


In looking at the Summit Diabetes website and exploring some of their social media posts, I see that the two siblings were for the most part successful in their journey. Yesterday they noted…

“We made it!!! 221 miles of hiking from Yosemite to Mount Whitney!


Unfortunately, we didn’t make the top of Whitney as a freak snowstorm nearly froze us to death this morning just a quarter mile from the top.”


What an amazing feat! I am so impressed by these young people. I am impressed by their courage, dedication and stamina.  When Haley contacted me, she was asking for only one thing, for me to share her story and that is what I hope to do here.  Please look at their video, check out their website and the amazing pictures of their adventure.  If you can, also contribute to their goal of raising $1000 for every one mile that they hiked this summer.


Congratulations Haley and Ethan!

summit