Category Archives: DBlogWeek

The Healthcare Experience…Day 4 of DBlog Week

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

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Today’s prompt is a tough one and a very interesting one.  I no longer have a lot of  dealings with the health care system regarding my son but over 16 years we have definitely had highs and lows.

Our initial foray into the world of diabetes, involved a horrific healthcare experience–my son was misdiagnosed, sent home and almost died.  Thankfully that was probably the worst of it (I know it couldn’t get much worse could it?).  The upside was when he was finally diagnosed, we were given a doctor who truly helped to set us on a course for success.

My son’s doctor believed in the most advanced treatments.  He encouraged me to learn and to try new things.  The rest of our diabetes care team was the same.  They taught us carb counting when others were still using exchanges.  Equally important, as I began to learn and explore the world of diabetes, they were eager to learn from me.  That was both empowering and endearing.  They cared–we were a team.

Not everyone we encountered “got it” however and it has been important for me to try to empower my son in his own care.  Soon after my son moved away, he had some sort of an attack (for lack of a better word).  The doctors worried that it was his appendix but they never did establish what had happened.  He was rushed to the hospital and the health care team attempted to manage his diabetes.  My son told them point blank “You deal with what brought me here. I will handle my diabetes.”  I was very proud.  My son is quiet.  It was very important for him to be able to do this for himself.

He is now a young adult.  He now sees a new team of doctors.  He faces new challenges…and as a mom on the sidelines it is driving me crazy.

He doesn’t feel that the new team has any idea about his diabetes care.  From my limited knowledge, I believe it is made up of people used to dealing with older adults with Type 2 not young people who have lived with Type 1 all of their lives.  Because of the area that he lives in, he is unable to “fire” them and find a new team.  I have reminded him to politely let them know that he does know what he is doing.  If he is showing them readings like I saw when he visited me, they prove that he does have this down pat.

For the moment, he is biding his time until he can move to a new team.  I am hoping to see him move back with me this fall to attend trade school. I have a friend who is now a CDE for adults. I am hoping to be able to get him in with her. I think it will be a huge help to him on all levels–she is a nurse, she lives with diabetes, and she has had diabetes since she was his age. A win-win-win.

In the meantime, the issue does continue to frustrate me.  Youth with diabetes have enough challenges.  They face many issues with transitions and lifestyle changes. It would be nice if more of their diabetes teams could be supportive and work with them.  There has to be a mutual respect of knowledge.

I continue to remind my son that the health care providers have something to offer and he must share with them that he is knowledgeable as well.  He finds it a challenge.  He feels his knowledge is far greater than their’s and sadly, it may well be true.  I then remind him that he has been very lucky. Over the years he has sat and spoke with some of the greatest diabetes minds in North America.  This is not a privilege that everyone has had.

Is there an answer? Balance.  I truly wish that there was more balance.  Patients are learning more now through their own research and through the experiences of others.  Doctors and educators are also learning but there must be a partnership.  Neither should be in a power position.  Both should be working toward the common goal of best physical and mental health for the individual.

What’s in a Word? Day 3 of Diabetes Blog Week

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“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The tongue can pierce a heart. ”

“Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose yours well.”

We have all heard the sayings.  We have also all felt the sting of words.  Words are very powerful.  They have a huge impact on our lives.

Today’s prompt for Day three of Diabetes Blog week, asks us to discuss the power of words.  How do we feel about the word “diabetic” for example?

I always refer to my son has  a person with diabetes.  “Diabetic” is not a word I have ever used around him or anyone that I know living with the disease.  Despite that fact, he will occasionally call himself a diabetic.  Does this mean that he seems himself as the disease? No but this condition has been with him for as long as he can remember.  It is as much a  part of him as his pump, meter and lancing device are.  They keep him alive.  He has a bum pancreas.  He understands that his daily routine is different from others. He doesn’t see it as a major obstacle.  Diabetes, diabetic, person with diabetes….they all just seem to be terms to him–terms that really don’t change much.

Some people are offended by the use of the word “diabetes”.  It is a word that is thrown around by the media and accompanied with a great deal of blame.  Diabetes happens to fat people who don’t care about their health. Diabetes is what happens when you feed your child a diet of chocolate bars from birth to age 12 non-stop.

Can you see the insanity? To me, the solution is not a name change.  The name has been changed–we once had juvenile and late-onset diabetes, and now we have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  Another name change personally will change nothing.  The attitude and awareness must change.

No one should be blamed for their illness.  Education must continue.  We should unite in that effort not add to the shaming.  Cartoons that suggest that if Jimmy had twelve cupcakes and ate ten that he would have diabetes are just wrong.  I don’t care that it doesn’t say he will have Type 2 diabetes…it shouldn’t say diabetes period. It is not funny. It is simply cruel and that is wrong.

There are words used in diabetes care that  matter deeply to me.  The words “test your blood sugar” for example.  Those are words  that I have worked to be exceptionally careful with.

“Test” is a word with strong connotations in our society.  It suggests a black and white outcome–pass or fail, success or failure.  Blood glucose readings are often high or low and sometimes even “in range”.  To call the task to get those readings a “test” suggests that the number will show your worth–how good of a pancreas you were.

Yesterday we discussed the mental drain of diabetes.  For me, equating a reading with passing or failing adds to that burden.  It was very important to me, especially remembering that my son has been hearing readings since he was two years old, that numbers be just that…numbers.

I tried to stress that readings were tools.  They were a reference point to move forward from.  A reading that was too high was not a fail, it meant that he needed more insulin and next time we may need to factor in something else when dosing.  A reading that was too low as again something to learn from.  Of course a reading that was perfect was reason to dance, celebrate and pat ourselves on the back for being just plain awesome.

Words are powerful.  They can make you feel strong and invincible.  They can cut you to the core and make you feel worthless.  In life, I try to choose my words carefully. I make mistakes. We all do. I am not hypersensitive to the words that others use. I take my cues from my child and continue to make sure that he is not defined by the word “diabetes” but accepting of a life with this unwanted passenger.

Why do you Blog…Diabetes Blog Week Day 1

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Can you believe it? Its Diabetes Blog Week again already! I knew it was coming and then I opened up my computer and BAM!!! Its here!! This year there will only be 5 posts so I had better get started…

Why am I here? That’s simple and complex.  For me, blogging began as therapy.  It has been a way for me to share my life, my experiences, my highs, and my lows (literally).  It has been a way for me to share my opinions and my thoughts.

The funny thing is that as I began sharing, people became interested.  Parents began to message me and tell me that they they were going through the same thing. They told me that my ramblings made them feel less alone.

Because of this, over the years my why has changed a little.  I no longer write just for me.   I now also write to show others that they aren’t alone in their trials.  I hope that I can share the serious nature of the disease mixed with the quirky and funny side of this life.   I hope to make some people think and others to simply say “YES! She gets it!”

What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? For me there are two messages.  For the parents and people living with diabetes the message is that you can do this!I want them to know that even after their darkest days, there will one day be light.   You have options. You have knowledge.  You can use it. You can ask for help. You can turn to others and you will get through. Together, we will make it. I promise.

For those who don’t live with diabetes, the awareness message that I want them to receive is that diabetes is serious and deadly. It is not a one size fits all. It is not as simple as take an aspirin and call me in the morning. Diabetes takes a lot of work. Diabetes takes no breaks.  People who monitor their diabetes care are not obsessed, they must do these tasks to  stay alive and healthy. Not monitoring your health can cause very serious problems down the road.

Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?  It is important to me for people with diabetes to know that they can do this because my son lives with this disease.  He is now a young man finding his way.  I want him (and other people’s children) to  feel confident in speaking out about what their needs are. I want them open to learning and growing.  I want them to understand that there is a community that is there for them to help along the way.

I want  people without diabetes to understand how serious diabetes is because it almost killed my son. It has killed friends and friends’ children.  It is a deadly foe not to be taken lightly.  Too many people do not realize that and it costs unnecessary lives.  That needs to change.

Looking from a distance

Diabetes Blog Week
Today is Saturday’s snapshots. At first I was a bit troubled by this.  What does my life with diabetes look like these days? Well its different than even one year ago.  Should I show pictures of my son’s life? I decided that I shouldn’t.  My pictures would be of my life with diabetes…living with it at a distance.

Now when I find test strips at the bottom of my purse, I don’t swear and wonder how they got there, I think of my youngest son and smile instead.
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My conversations are often done via text rather than in person…

















IMG_1494But we still get a chance to spend time together and share care when we can.

Three Things that Raise My Dander

Diabetes Blog Week
Its Diabetes Blog week once again and I am so excited to be able to participate once again!  Today’s topic comes for Kim of Texting my Pancreas and asks us to discuss diabetes issues that get us really fired up!

Since I began my website many years ago, the issues that I have been passionate about have grown but have always retained one common thread–improving the lives of people living with diabetes.  There have been some successes and there is still a long way to go but watching the diabetes community come together and create change has been the best part of the journey.

The first issue that got my dander up was the inequity I saw years ago in the way people with diabetes were treated when it came to the Disability Tax Credit.  As I worked on this issue, I saw that those who were approved for the credit were people who were able to stand up to the government and were willing to fight for this issue. If you were uncertain or did not know how to take on this battle, you would be denied the credit while your neighbor was approved.  There seemed to be no other logic behind how this credit was applied to people living with diabetes.
With a lot of help from other people living with diabetes and a fabulous mentor, I was able to see this issue change dramatically. Fairness was obtained and change happened to the legislation surrounding this issue. I was very proud of all the works that was done here but there were still more issues to tackle.

As I learned about diabetes and became more involved in the world of advocacy, I came to realize how difficult it was to get an insulin pump if you didn’t have the very best insurance coverage.  Once again I was outraged.  Why should it matter what sort of job you have or where you work to get the best possible care for your diabetes?

Since I first began dealing with this issue, things have changed.  Most provinces in Canada now offer provincial health care coverage for insulin pumps and supplies for all children under the age of 18.  That was great but what about older children who are just starting out in the workforce? Some provinces decided to give these young adults until age 25 to get better insurance…some provinces didn’t.  Today, I continue to work with others to see that all people living with diabetes have access to the best devices available to manage their diabetes care regardless of age. This means that I would like all governments to cover insulin pumps, supplies and Continuous Glucose Monitors for people with diabetes regardless of age.  This will happen in time. I am confident.

No matter what your age or where you live, you deserve access to the very best in medical care.  It is important for governments (and insurance companies) to understand the broad sweeping benefits that come from best care practices. If a person with diabetes is able to maintain their bg control to a close to normal range and they are able to anticipate highs and lows with the aid of CGM technology they are better able to perform at work (which means less down time and more money paid to the government in terms of personal tax), they are less likely to be in the hospital (costing the government money), and more likely to have a better overall life satisfaction which in turn further leads to increased productivity and once again an increase in taxes paid to governments. The cost outlay is far outweighed by the benefits to the system as a whole.

At the moment, I live in a province that covers insulin pumps for people with Type 1 diabetes until they reach the age of 25. It does not cover CGM technology.  I have less than 9 years to advocate for increased funding to cover all people with diabetes regardless of age.  In 9 years my own son will be in the position of having to make very serious and real choices about his diabetes care. We will see this change–for him and for all of the other adults struggling to maintain their health despite the heavy financial costs.

Because my son is still in school and has had diabetes since before he went to school, the third issue that I am passionate about is that of children with diabetes in schools. This issue has seen major changes since I first began talking about it over 10 years ago.  In BC, we have seen the power of grassroots parent organizations who have pressured the government into changing its policy on children with diabetes in schools.  I have seen many more individual boards and provinces begin to seriously look at the issue of protecting the rights of children with diabetes in schools.

Once again, this is an issue that many parents and children are not able to stand up and voice their concerns about themselves. I felt that it was therefore my job to help them.  I would (and do) speak to parents on how best to tackle their schools and their issues. I work with boards to help them understand what needs to be done to create change that is fair and just to all parties involved. This is a very complex issue here in Canada. Our children are not protected by a disabilities act. They are protected by the voices of their parents and other concerned adults…but these voices are powerful and making a difference.

Advocacy has always been something that I am very passionate about. I have felt a strong need to stand up for those who may not be able to stand up for themselves.  I have worked for the past 14 years to ensure that people living with diabetes are all treated fairly with equal access to education, medical devices and supplies.  This is a long road.  It has seen many battles won and I am proud to be able to continue fighting the war along side many incredible people.

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