Lucky Thirteen

March 17, 2000  is a date I will never forget. Its the day that diabetes stormed into our lives. Its the day we realized the lifesaving properties of insulin.  Its the day that our world was turned on its ear and would never be the same. 

That was thirteen years ago now. A lot has changed.  My son is now 15 and not 2.  He knows no other life beyond insulin pumps, infusion sets, glucose tablets and blood glucose testing.  It is a part of him.  He ignores it as much as you can with a  tube sticking out of your body and lancing your finger in search of blood multiple times during a day. 

He is now taller than me and weighs a lot more than the 11 kilograms he was at diagnosis.  He lifts weights rather than sippy cups. He prefers Duck Dynasty and Gold Rush to Land Before Time.  He continues to take life in stride. 

A lot has changed for me in thirteen years as well.  My boys are now young men.  I have a lot more white hair and a few more wrinkles than I would like to admit to.  I also have a large network of amazing friends.  

As I mentioned last week, I now speak to other families living with diabetes and help them to navigate through the bureaucracy of schools and governments. I enjoy chatting with other parents and offering experience as well as a friendly ear of someone who has lived their lives. 

St. Patrick’s Day for many means green beer and fun.  For thirteen years, it has been a day of reflection for me.  Yesterday I decided that that day would no longer be for somber reflection. It would be a day of celebration. 

March 17th marks two very special things–its a day to celebrate your “Irish” and since I fell in love with the country of Ireland last summer, its definitely something I would love to celebrate!  Its also the day that saved my son’s life.  A few weeks ago, there was a story on the Internet about a young boy who died because no one recognized the signs of diabetes in him.  My son was given less than 24 hours to live because it was so late before this disease was recognized in him but he did live! He is alive, happy and thriving today. That is definitely something to celebrate!

Thirteen years of incredible friendships.  Thirteen years of learning.  Thirteen years of growing.  Thirteen years of change. 

When we started this journey there were no insulin pump programs. It was rare for a person with diabetes to get the Disability Tax Credit.  Glucometers took a lifetime to read blood glucose levels and require a gallon of blood per test.  Long acting insulin was something yet to come and CGMs were bulky, blinded devices used by hospitals in extreme cases. 

Times have changed and so have we.  Thank you Sir Banting for keeping my son alive.  Thank you my friends, family and those who have followed us for your amazing support! And in honor of St. Patrick…

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

CWD Conferences are THE BEST!

I have said it time and time again, CWD conferences truly are the very best events out there for people living with diabetes.  Vendors who fail to take part are missing a lot.  Families who do not take part are missing a lot.  People with diabetes who do not attend are also truly missing out. 

Yes, I am part of the Canadian faculty which does mean that they cover my plane fare and lodgings while I am at the Canadian events but that in no way changes my perspective.  Actually it enhances it.  Each year I help out at registration and at that desk you see a lot. 

You experience the person who walks up and says “My toiletries, which happened to contain my insulin, infusion sets, sensors, and reservoirs did not make it into my luggage.”  Before this person can ask if anyone has anything to spare, three people offer everything that they could possibly need to handle their diabetes for the weekend and everyone is able to enjoy the conference without a second thought. 

You also get to see the smile on a mother’s face who says “In my rush, I forgot to bring the gluten free snacks for my child but you have an entire buffet dedicated just to her needs!  I don’t need to worry about her at all!”  

I learned a few other benefits this conference as well.  When you lock you key in your room, your son is off site with the other key, and you need to be in your room to get information for your presentation which will take place in less than 15 minutes, the lanyard around your neck with your name will get you a new room key! 

While sitting around a lunch table, I learned that others have used the “D” card on occasion for convenience. If you don’t want to get stuck in a room with an annoying coworker, tell them that you are low and need to check.  If you don’t want to share that amazing piece of chocolate cake? Tell them that you are sorry but you already pre-bolused for the entire piece.  

The most important thing that was reinforced for me during this conference? The value of friendships–new and old.  I watched two young boys pose arm in arm for a picture.  You knew that the friendship was struck up at this conference. I met people who were previously just names online and enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about them.  And as always, I enjoyed time, talk and meals with friends that I have been blessed to have in my life through the ups and downs for the past eleven years.  There truly is nothing better than a CWD conference!