The Secret to My D-Success

Today’s blog week prompt asks us to talk about the greatest accomplishment you have made in terms of dealing with diabetes–something that I did that made our life better.  My first thought was learning how to dose for food.  That may sound pretty basic but for some reason, it took a lot for me to get this to sink in.
My son was two years old when he was diagnosed.  At that time, he was on a strict meal plan.  I would inject him with two types of insulin and then pray he would eat.  Most of the time he wouldn’t. He would eat and then vomit. He would chew the food and hold it in his cheek without swallowing. He would pass out from lows.  I would cry.  He would cry.  Our life was filled with stress because he was too young to know that he had to eat to cover the insulin in his system and I was too shell shocked to digest the advice I had been given from our diabetes team on how to dose for meals.
In my mind, he had to have insulin to keep him healthy.  He had to have both types of insulin. This was the medicine that would keep him alive. I had learned carb counting. I understood carb to insulin ratios but again, insulin=life and I could not alter that way of thinking. Until I joined the world of the internet.
The best thing I ever did for my son’s diabetes care was dialing up that connection, searching for parents of children with diabetes, joining an email list, and asking what to do about my son going low and refusing to eat. From those few simple steps, our lives changed forever!
One of the first people who told me to dose for what he ate and inject AFTER he ate onlyIF he did eat remains a dear friend today. For whatever reason, when she sent me those words everything clicked when it hadn’t before.  Our lives changed.  If my son didn’t eat, I didn’t inject his rapid acting insulin and our day went on without tears or vomiting!
I now had support. I now had a group of people who understood and had been where I was living.  I had access to information on the latest technological advances.  I had access to the advice of hundreds of endos just by sitting in front of my computer screen and reading.  I had new friends that would comfort me after a rough day and kick me in the butt when I needed to get over things.
I now had a family that would be there for me through bittersweet moments like the first time my son tested himself.  They would encourage me in my advocacy efforts.  This new family would offer support and encouragement as my marriage fell apart.  They would be there to share the pride when my oldest son graduated.
The most outstanding thing I ever did for my son’s diabetes care was joining the Children with Diabetes parents mailing list.  Through the guidance and support of many amazing and now dear friends who have become family, I am able to ensure my son has the best diabetes care.  I know of the latest breakthroughs in technology and management.  I have been able to change federal policy and impact how things are done in a large number of areas.  Thanks to finding that one group of incredible people, I have become knowledgeable and strong.  My son has been able to be healthy and lead a rich life with the entire world in front of him.

Thank you to our Doctor

Happy 4th of July to our US friends! 
This post was originally published in response to a question for Diabetes Blogfest  last year….

Dear Dr. vG;

It is day two of Diabetes Blogfest and a letter to you seemed appropriate.

We met over 11 years ago.  I was told that you were the best and when I saw you, well, I wondered.  My son was terribly ill and a man in a checkered shirt, bushy beard, and big winter boots was to be the one to save him? I left it in God’s hands and we have never looked back.

You were very matter of fact when you met us.  You left me scared and shaken to the core when you told me that the next twelve hours would tell us if he lived or died, if he had heart problems or kidney failure.  You would teach me about diabetes and whatever else I needed to know after you saved my son’s life.

I remember very little of you after that.  I know you were there. I know that our prayers were answered and you saved my son’s life that night. You carefully balanced his insulin and fluids, bringing him back to us healthy and full of life. 

You met us again after he left intensive care.  I can still see you standing near his room door.  You told me that he could honeymoon for years.  You warned me of impotency at 20.  You gave me the facts never worrying that I could not handle them.  You told me that I had to learn things that were foreign to me.  I had to be able to handle my son going low before we could go home. You seemed to know my strength more than I did because I was sure I would never be able to handle it all.

Over the years you pushed me.  You guided me and then left me to fly or fall on my own.  You told your secretary to ignore my faxes for help because you knew that I could answer my own questions. I grumbled upon your return, you laughed and reminded me that I had done fine. When I decided to apply and fight for the Disability Tax Credit you told me I was crazy.  You said it could not be done but if I wanted to waste my time, you would not stop me.  When we were headed to court to further the fight, you were still standing beside us.  When we won, not just for my son but for the thousands of people living with diabetes in Canada, you laughed and complaied that I had given you more work that you didn’t need.

As my son grew, you pushed me again.  You knew that diabetes care I could handle but you also knew how difficult it would be for me to let go of my children–especially one that had almost been taken from me.  You made my son take care of himself long before many thought he was ready.  You asked more of him than many others of his age.  I was scared. I balked but went along with it because it had worked with me.  Your reasoning was sound but I was terrified.

I am still scared today but I am grateful for the tools you gave us.  Last year, we moved away and had to leave your practice.  When my son was diagnosed, I had asked if you would ever leave us but I never imagined that life would put us on a path where we would have to leave your care. 

You shared stories of your family.  You shared your insights and offered us food for thought. You created a strong foundation for us to go forward on and I will forever be grateful.  We have stumbled.  We have not always agreed but you allowed us room to grow and had faith in us when we may not have had it in ourselves. 

Thank you for saving my son. Thank you for showing us how to stand.  Thank you for giving us the courage to fly.

Day 3: Who is your biggest supporter

Diabetes Blog week continues and my heavens what a tough topic! Who is the person who picks you up? Who is the person who is always there for you?  If my son with diabetes was writing this I would hope he would say his mom but who keeps Mom going?
Mom is definitely high maintenance so it takes a lot.  I cannot say that its just one person. At home, well the man in my life definitely is a wonderful shoulder to lean on but I have had to rely on others for most of this battle. If I had to say the one person who picks me up? The one person who is always there for me? The one person who will give me a kick or a hug when I need it?…well its my online diabetes family. 
No, that is not a cop-out.  It is a fact.  About nine years ago I searched online for help for parents of children with diabetes. I came across a mailing list that offered support on a website called I was struggling to get a toddler with diabetes to eat. I posted a question and within minutes I received a reply from two great moms.  They restated what I already knew but by them telling me things finally clicked. One of those ladies remains a wonderful friend to this day.  Over the years I developed more friendships through that list.  They have taught me so much and been there through thick and thin.
These people have not just help me with diabetes but they also helped me through the trials and tribulations of many personal issues.  They offered to stand by my side in court battles.  They cheered me on and encouraged me to create changes in the world of diabetes.
Because of  their encouragement, I met more diabetes “family” by creating my own website and social network.  This new group of people stood beside me as we blazed the trail for change.  We fought for tax changes.  We fought for children in schools.  We fought for better access to medical supplies. When things got tough, they were there to remind me how much what we were doing mattered.  I am honoured that some of these people say that I inspire them but the truth is that all of you inspire me.  You keep me going. You pick me up when I am down. When I want to throw in the towel you tell me that I can ‘t. 

I have been truly blessed by not just one individual but too many to name. They keep me going each day. My son is my reason for being on this diabetes rollercoaster and my reason for fighting so hard for so much, but so many of you are the motivation that keeps me going each day.    

2010..its not just about the Olympics

With the arrival of 2010 many people began focusing on the Olympics in Vancouver. The hard work of athletes would soon be put to the test. The years of hard work by Olympic organizers and volunteers would be put on display for all of the world to see. I, of course, had to be different!

I was happy to see that the world would get to share in the beauty of my home province but 2010 meant something very different to me. It was the year that marked 10 years since diabetes came barreling into our lives like an elephant in a china shop. It was not invited but like any unwanted guest, it made itself quite at home and left us to pick up the pieces after its destruction. We were forced to find away to live with…to live with what? A new family member? It was that annoying stray that came in when the door was left open and refused to get back out.

For ten years that unwanted guest, that pesky stray had plagued our house. It demanded meals at set times but we learned how to get around that with advanced use of rapid-acting insulin and ultimately an insulin pump. It demanded money for its upkeep but again we fixed that one by advocating for an insulin pump program. Many of our diabetes related costs were now covered by our provincial health plan. Our grouchy stray demanded blood…literally. It won that battle but it was losing ground in other homes. As more insurance companies provide assistance, many more people who also live with diabetes are able to use Continuous Glucose Monitors and change the way they monitor their diabetes.

The constant demands of this stray called Type 1 diabetes that had moved into our lives was a strain. Each year I was reminded of that fateful day when diabetes moved in and try to claim the life of my child but I began to see 2010 as a year of promise. Diabetes made demands but look at how we were able to meet those demands? There had to be positives about this pest. There had to be something good to say and there began my quest. I would find the best things about diabetes and focus on that for the next ten years!

As I came up from my own depression and despair, I began to look around and was reminded of all of the other incredible people who were hitting this same milestone or who had already sailed passed it. I saw small children who were now becoming teenagers. I saw an incredibly amazing group of friends. There are many great lines about friends but diabetes has somehow brought me the most amazing friends that a person could ever ask for. There is Sharon who threw me a life-preserver when I didn’t know how in the world to make a two year old eat the food required to meet his insulin needs. There is Michelle who was there when we came home from the hospital to talk to and went on to become a great friend. There is Darlene and Shirley who helped round out our therapy and advocacy group. There is Stacey who ensured that we never went without supplies, who welcomed us into her home and is such an amazing friend. There is Jeff, Brenda and Laura who have given so many so much but have been there for me through some of the darkest days. There is Kim, Karen, Cheryl, Mike, Michelle, Lauren and so many, many more who have been amazing friends, wonderful confidants, and inspirations to challenge us to do more. I could go on and on and on. There are so many more of you out there who have welcomed us into your homes, who have worked side by side with us on advocacy issues and diabetes project. You have helped me to create change in the world of diabetes. You have been there with a kick when I needed it, a hug when it is required, amazing advice and a shoulder always.

Diabetes came in as an unwelcomed guest. It arrived like that annoying relative that doesn’t know when they have overstayed their welcome. It has also brought the best gift of all…friendship. I would give anything for my son and so many more not to have to go down this road called “life with Type 1 diabetes” but I would never trade the incredible friendships and amazing people that I have met because of this disease.

While the world watches the Olympics in Vancouver, I wait to return home as well but for a different reason. In August, my family will head to Vancouver to meet up with its extended “diabetes family”. Catching up with friends, sharing ideas, and loving the best part of a rotten disease. We have our own athletes and our own heroes. They don’t always have gold medals around their necks but they have captured our hearts and truly become a part of our lives.


I truly am one of the luckiest people on the planet. About one year after my son was diagnosed with diabetes I joined the world of technology and “found” the Internet. I had been struggling for most of that year. I knew no one with diabetes. I was living far away from family. Life was hard in a lot of ways. I had a child with diabetes who hated to eat. I did not have a clue how to give him the insulin I knew he needed and keep him conscious. I was spending more meals in tears than not. I was at my wits end.

I searched for children with diabetes and it did not take me long to find my life-line. I found the Children with Diabetes website but more than that I found some incredible friends. I found people that would challenge me to do more…and I did. I found find friends who would help me when times were tough…and they were. I found friends who would cry with me when that was all I had the strength to do. I found friends who believed in me.

Over the years I have lost track of some of these people but many more have remained incredible friends. I have been able to give back to some people and hopefully be there for a few more. I learned about “Friends for Life”. Those are people who are brought into your life because they are struggling to deal with the same chronic illness that you are. They have been there, done that…and guess what? We do have t-shirts!

As I posted the other day, my latest trial has been puberty and not testing. I went to my CWD email list and asked for advice from those who had survived the teen years and have such incredibly well adjusted young adults in their lives. Once again I found awesome advice, incredible support and just as importantly, I was able to open up a venue for others to express that they were going through the exact same thing and how they were handling things.

I wasn’t alone and funny but even those kids that I thought were perfect had had their moments as well. As terrible as it sounds, that made me feel better too!

One of my friends provided me with extra support. She knew of someone who specialized in this issue. He had lived with diabetes for almost 50 years and was well versed in teen aged issues. He kindly called me and we chatted for a bit. He gave me some guidance and helped me to put things in perspective. He told me to call anytime. His time is paid for by Animas (Johnson and Johnson) and they offer his service freely. He was worth his weight in gold to me. I am not claiming that life will now be a bed of roses. He said some very powerful things and I have a LOT of work to do. He did not claim that this would be a cure and my son would instantly realize all that he had to do, the dangers of diabetes, or the sacrifices of his mother. Actually he claimed just the opposite…the kid will hate you but it will work out. Ironically, that was comforting.

Forty-eight hours ago I was stressed, depressed and alone. Today I am know how un-alone I really am. I have incredible friends who look out for me no matter how far apart we may be geographically. I truly am very blessed.