Category Archives: a day in the life

Diabetes changes your vocabulary

It’s funny how your vocabulary changes when diabetes enters your world.  I saw nothing wrong with sternly telling my 5-year-old son who was having a tantrum in public.. “You had better be high mister!” In hindsight, you do have to wonder how many adults were wondering why I was okay with my child being stoned.

Before diabetes, if someone said that they were low, I would have assumed that they were having a bad day.  I would have offered them a shoulder to lean on…today I am running for glucose!

Twenty years ago, if you had told me to grab a site, I would have thought you meant a campsite and would be questioning why I, of all people, would seriously want a camping site? I prefer camping in a 4 star hotel to sleeping on the ground with bugs and other creatures.

Today when I ask my son to tell me his BS, I don’t want to hear the lies that he has to tell. Gone are the days when BS meant bulls*!@.  Now it reflects important blood glucose information.

A juice box is no longer just something to have on hand when the grandchildren pop over for a visit.  Those little guys are vital, life-saving bottles of sugar to be used when my son comes in from work and says “I’m low”.  He doesn’t want a hug, he just wants that juice!

A Pump is not just for breast milk
A Pump is not just for breast milk

I recently reached out to the diabetes community  and asked what words had new meaning for them when diabetes came into their lives.  The answers were pretty funny! Check these out…

  • A D-bag is no longer a douche bag but rather that super important kit that contains all things diabetes related.
  • Checking your numbers no longer refers to wondering if you have won the lottery.  When diabetes moves in, it is hoping that you win that diabetes lottery and your readings are perfect.
  • As a parent, this was one of the hardest ones for me  to handle…”If you are not hungry then leave your salad and make sure that you finish your dessert!”
  • The question, “How is your 6 year old’s reading?” now sends one parent to automatically check their child’s CGM rather than reply as to what sort of books they are currently able to read.
  • “Make sure you wash all of the blood off of your hands.” has nothing to do with clean up after  a serious accident, applying trauma care or cleaning up a murder scene.
  • A pump isn’t just for breast milk any more!
  • “What’s your number” is not a pick up line.
  • A “Sugar Daddy” does not refer to a man who is supporting a woman in a lavish lifestyle but rather the father of a child with diabetes.

I never realized how much my vocabulary has changed since diabetes came into our lives.  Quite a few of these made me laugh as I realized how odd they must sound to the outside world!

What sort sayings or words have completely changed their meaning for you since diabetes barged into your life?

 

Diabetes Diagnosis day…It slipped my mind

Celebrating 17 years of health and wellness
Celebrating 17 years of health and wellness

It slipped my mind…sort of…well, more so than ever before. Today is the day that Diabetes turns 17 years old in our house.  Strangely, it hasn’t consumed all of my thoughts this month.  I haven’t planned this post for weeks in advance…in fact I actually had another post planned for this week when I realized the date!

That is unheard of for me.

Every March I think of two things…what will I get my oldest son for his birthday and how long diabetes has been a part of my youngest son’s life.

This March has been a bit different.  I was busy this March with other things.  For the first few days of the month, I got to spend time with my nephews after not seeing them for a  few years.  I was able to meet my youngest nephew for the very first time.  We enjoyed cuddles and goofing around.  It wasn’t until I was home that I thought about his little life and the life of his older cousin–my youngest son.

When my son was his age, he was being stabbed with a needle somewhere in his body 5+ times per day.  At the age of 3, his little fingers had tiny marks from testing his blood glucose levels 8 or more times per day.  My sweet little nephew had bruises on his knees from playing outside with his trucks.  When my son was that age, he had similar bruises but there were also bruises that would sometimes find his arms, legs or stomach after an injection.

I am so glad that none of my nephews have had to go through this.  I remain in awe of how well my son has managed to cope.  He won’t even notice this day.  Life with diabetes is all that he has ever known.  For him, it is simply be St. Patrick’s Day–an excuse to go out with his friends and have a beer.

I will pause as I always do.  Most likely I will message a dear friend whose son shares this “dia-versary”.  On this day, I will  be extra grateful for the many incredible and lasting friendships that diabetes has brought into my life.  I will also take a moment to cry for the friend who lost her child last year–we were brought together because of our sons’ common diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Today I am sure that I will slip back in time for a moment.  There will be a pause in my day when I vividly recall the lifeless child that I held in my arms 17 years ago.  I will remember the prayers that I said and the prayers that were offered as we rushed to the hospital.  At one point today I will see, in my mind’s eye, the doctor who sent my son to ICU and told me, “if he makes it through the next 24 hours, you will need to learn a lot about diabetes.” The phone calls, the terror, the uncertainty will all come flooding back just like it was yesterday.

Today I will quietly cry for the life that was lost but I then I will wipe away the tears.  As I tell others, today is about celebrating.  Today marks 17 years that my son has lived strongly with type 1 diabetes.  He has never let it stop him from doing anything–except for shovelling the driveway in the winter.  He seemed to often be conveniently low as a child during that particular chore.

My son now manages his diabetes his way. I don’t test him.  Rarely do I know what his blood sugar levels look like.  I can’t tell you his insulin to carbohydrate ratio or even his basal rates. Diabetes is his disease to handle now.

It hasn’t all been perfect. There have been stumbles along the way.  I still remain there to help when asked.  We discuss carb counts or extended boluses.  I still do site changes when required. Seventeen years later, we are both finding our way  but he is healthy and thriving.  I can ask for nothing more…except a cure of course.

 

New Age, New Worries

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I hate to think about it.

I can feel my stomach start to churn.

This isn’t right.

My son is 19.  He has stumbled along, trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  It has been a challenge but he is meeting it.  Slowly he is  making his way.

Unlike his brother who finished high school and instantly knew what he wanted to do in terms of a career, my youngest son has been a bit more uncertain.  He has applied for a variety of trades but finding the right fit isn’t easy.

He needs a job with great benefits. He wants something that will interest him.  He needs to be employable in a slumping economy.  It can be a challenge for any young person.

He isn’t just any young person however.  He is a young person with diabetes and  diabetes doesn’t care that he doesn’t know what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

Diabetes doesn’t care that he may soon be removed from his parent’s insurance plan.

Diabetes doesn’t care that he doesn’t have a job with insurance.

Diabetes doesn’t care that his provincial drug plan offers very little assistance.

Diabetes demands that he check bg levels multiple times per day.  He still must find insulin to use daily. He is required  to make appointments and order insulin pump supplies. Diabetes doesn’t care how he does any of these things but if he wants to live, he has to find a way.

He is just 19.  He should be concerned with going to school. He should be concerned with finding a career path.  He shouldn’t be concerned with health care costs.

The reality is that those are things that he has to be concerned with however.  He is still in school but will insurance still recognize this? I am not sure.

There is some help for pump supplies in our province but because of some of his own mis-steps, his coverage has lapsed. Together we will work on getting him back in the program but it will take time.

There is a provincial drug plan.  They  allow you a set number of test strips for the year but some strips covered will be better than none when the time comes.

Some days the reality of life with an expensive illness…well its overwhelming despite the fact that I am not  the person who has to test or inject daily.  He understands that it will be expensive.  This is his life. It has been for loner than he can remember. It still makes my heart ache. I still wish that I could take it away.

I can’t. We will do our best and that will be fine.

Its too hard to count every calorie…or is it?

We are coming to that time of year when many of us will be making New Year resolutions.  I don’t do resolutions but I have decided on a few goals for 2016.  One of them is to get rid of that spare 15 pounds that plagued me all last year.

I have realized that there a variety of factors that have gone into my weight gain–change in activity levels as well as…cough…cough…age.  I therefore decided to look outside the box for some new weight loss tips.

After almost 16 years of having diabetes in the house, I have a pretty good idea of nutrition.  While I no longer have a massive driveway to clear of snow each winter, I make sure that I use the treadmill we have on a regular basis with a decent intensity.  As I said, that has not been enough so I have purchased a few books to look for other theories and alternatives.

For some reason I chose Dr. Phil’s 20/20 diet book to read.  I won’t say if its good or bad because after almost 100 pages, I still have no real idea as to what his diet and exercise plan will entail.  What did strike me was repeated reference to what it won’t entail….

“juggle Tupperware containers all day with “mini-meals”  that you weighed and calculated, you might as well quit your day job,  because your diet becomes practically a full-time job!” (from The 20/20 Diet by Dr. Phil McGraw)

He talks about how unrealistic and unsustainable it is for a person to count calories every day at every single meal.  As I was reading along, I also saw that he mentions that he has insulin resistance and diabetes.  I then began to laugh a little.

While I agree fully that counting every single calorie and weighing every single morsel of food is a challenge, it’s not an option for a person living with Type 1 diabetes. Well it is but the alternative of not doing it is lethal.

I was reminded of this again after a recent visit with my son.  He sat on the couch with a bag of chocolate covered jube-jubes.  He was eating candy after candy, enjoying the super sweet taste and giving us a review of each morsel.  I was reminded how easy it is for the average person to simply mindlessly eat.  In my son’s case, he had to count every single candy that entered his mouth.  He then had to multiply it by the carbohydrates in each candy.  Finally he would input it in his pump to have the proper amount of insulin delivered to his body.

Dr. Phil was right in part, weighing, measuring and calculating can be a fulltime job.  However, if you live with Type 1 diabetes, carb countit’s a job that you do not have the option of quitting any time soon.

 

Diabetes Blog Week Day 1…Our day with diabetes

Wow, its that time already! Diabetes Blog Week! Here is the first task completed…what an average day is like in our house…with diabetes. 

I always wonder where does the night end and the day begin? Technically a new day starts at midnight but three in the morning still feels like I am dragging my butt through the day before.  In my world, the day starts when I have to get myself out of bed and stay there…that’s at about seven in the morning.
What happens at seven in the morning at our house is pretty close to seven in the morning at most homes.  Seven on a Monday means that Mom gets up and decides what to cook for breakfast.  Pancakes it is! The batter is mixed, the pan is heated and the cooking begins.  The first batch is done and I wait for my oldest to shuffle down the stairs to dig into his meal.
As the second batch cooks, I begin making lunches for noon.  My children both eat their lunch at school.  Only one has easy access to a microwave so both kids get lunches that can be eaten cold….this tends to equate to sandwiches all around! The sandwiches are created, juices are found, yogurt is added to provide the token healthy factor and a cookie is added for the junk factor.  Despite the contents appearing the same, the lunches have one major difference that lets my boys know who’s lunch is who’s.  One has a piece of paper attached to it and has a specific cookie.
The piece of paper is for my youngest. It lists out the carb count of each item of food. Once upon a time the carb counts would be a total of what was for lunch and then what was for recess but now that he is much older, he decides what he wants to eat and when.  To make sure that at least his carbs are accurate, I list his food for him.
The specific cookie is the one that was weighed.  It has been carefully set on the scale that sits on our counter so that I can know exactly how many carbs are baked into that little morsel of goodness.
By now the second batch of pancakes is cooked and ready to be served.  This batch of pancakes, like the cookie, must be weighed.  Our food scale has been a lifesaver.  It sits proudly on the counter and occasionally takes a place of honour at the table. When I have the carbs counted and logged in my son’s logbook, I begin the task of finding out where the heck my sleepy youngest teen is now!
After the morning bathroom break and washing of hands, he tends to arrive at the table as his food is cooling.  He grabs the nearest glucometer (there never tends to be any less than three sitting in one place but never any when you are looking for them) and tests.  He soon hears me calling out “Did you pre-bolus those pancakes? Are you having anything to drink with that? Did you add in those carbs? What was your reading? Did you correct for the high?”  And yes, that is all said without taking a breath and no real time for much more than a quick yes or no.
As my son heads for the door he is bombarded by yet another set of questions… “Do you have your meter? Are there enough test strips? How much insulin do you have? Are you sure that’s enough for the day?”  He mumbles “Yes Mom. This is me you are talking about!” and heads out the door.  I know who I am talking about and worry.
Times have changed. Rarely do I get those calls from the school saying that he is low or “what do I do about….? He has been high all morning. Etc.   Now my son knows how to handle these things and the staff is well versed in the “drill” after having him around for the past 8 years. I still get those calls of “Mom, I forgot my meter. Mom, I’m out of insulin.” But thankfully they are much rarer than days of old.
As diabetes heads off with my son, I get a small break for a few hours. Well I get a direct break but I spend my time answering questions, searching for answers, doing research, raising money and basically living a little more with diabetes.
At 3pm my phone rings. “Mom, come and pick me up?”
“Why?”
“I’m low and you said I can’t walk home.”
“I’m on my way.”
When we get home he gets to enjoy watching tv without me telling him to fill out his log book or do his homework.  He is in his own version of heaven while I hover. Oblivious to time passing, I finally call out “Did you retest?” and get back the usual “In a minute.”
As things are fine, our life returns to normal as my boys wrestle and carry on before supper.  In our house you know that supper is ready when you hear “Wash your hands and test!”.  Its a standard call used to get everyone to the table.  I fill plates–carefully measuring one.  As I finally sit down to the table I again ask my son that question “Did you pre-bolus?”  To get the answer “nope.”  I suggest that he should do so now.  I again get the response “How much?”  Aahhh!! “Well, how much food do you have? There is 20 g of potatoes, meat, green salad, and 25 for that glass of juice so let’s start with 45g.”  My son’s response is “Yeah, but I was low so you have to subtract off another 15.”  Wrong kiddo, YOU have to subtract 15.  Finally the meal is bloused and he is off to do homework and over the course of five hours, try to fill out his log book.
Two hours later I have yet to see my son. I have heard the rumblings of a Wii.  I have heard the thump of some wrestling.  I have even heard the telltale beeping of a pump but no child.  “Have you done your two hour after test?”
“I was just on my way down.”
“What was that beeping?”
“Site change.  I’ll do it after my shower.”
Ah the fun! Despite the fact that my stomach is still full, the two hour post meal test also seems to signal the teenaged need to eat…for another two hours straight. I tend to ignore him now because he is quite good and calculating and bolusing.  The scale sits on the table and tasty treats fly by me to be eaten by a half-starved young man and matched with insulin from his pump.
The night winds down and he changes his site, his cartridge, tests and heads to bed. I yell out once again but this time to see if he is in range.  He is running a little high so I set out with my book to read for a few hours.  I don’t feel right about going to sleep until I know that he is in a safe range.  The high may persevere or he may have corrected too much. He doesn’t wake for his lows and I have no desire to wake to a seizure or worse.
After a few hours of reading I test and feel good about dozing off for a few hours. Its now midnight but my night is not over. I toss and turn thinking about my day.  Finally I fall asleep after one but wake up an hour later.  There is a strange white noise coming from the baby monitor in my room.  The sane part of my brain wants to sleep and ignore it.  My heart says, a strange thing wakes you so you must get your butt out of bed and TEST!  I crawl out and am thankful that I listened to my heart. My son is low.  A juice, twenty minutes of waiting time, and I retest.  He is low again.  It takes over 90 minutes for me to get to a range that makes me feel warm and fuzzy again.  I can finally go to sleep…well except for the fact that my mind is now quite alert with no desire to sleep! I will find sleep. I will find sleep…..
What the heck is that alarm doing going off already!?!