After 60 days…

I was cleaning all of the meters, test strips and lancets off of my kitchen table and for some reason decided to read a bottle of strips.  I rarely remember to look at the number for coding so I am not sure what drew my attention to the bottle this time but something made me read.  

There on the side was a cute little spot for you to write the date that you opened the bottle of test strips.  Below the date was a warning “Discard 6 months after opening”.  I began to laugh. 

I am sure that we probably have test strip bottles around the house that are older than six months.  We do not often have test strip bottles that have been opened that have test strips in them after six DAYS let alone six months. Let’s see, bottle have 25-50 strips in each container. We test 10-12 times per day so that means?? Nope not making it to the six day no matter how you slice it. 

I understand that the warning is for people with Type 2 who don’t test very often or people who have been told to watch their readings.  For a house that has lived with diabetes for too many years, it simply provides a source of amusement for the day! 

Diabetes, You cannot go on vacation with us again!

I have been thinking about it and have decided that on my next long weekend trip diabetes will not be allowed to come with us.  My son will of course be there, but I think we should make diabetes stay at home.  It was very annoying this weekend and a proper punishment would only be right. We have been putting up with its inconvenience for ten years now and it should know better than to have pulled the stunts that it did this past weekend. I would not put up with such pesky behavoir from anyone else so why do we have to put up with it just because its “diabetes”?

We had a five day long weekend and took full advantage. I packed up my car with kids, dogs, suitcases, boxes, and (this time) all of the required diabetes supplies.  We had insulin, cartridges, strips, sites and more.  There would not be a problem this time around. After nine hours of driving, diabetes was behaving quite well.  My son’s readings were in pretty good range and we were all happy. 

By the time we arrived at our destination and unpacked I was pretty wiped out.  My kids did their thing–unwinding, playing games, and Mom did her thing…going to bed! Of course after a few hours I was up and testing.  I was not sure when the last test was done but I believe that you can never accumulate enough data so another test was done.  As I was lancing and waiting for the “beep”, I heard another “beep” coming from his pump.  What the heck? We do not have any alerts set for 2am.  That is unless you count the one that says he has NO insulin left in his pump.  Why me? Why at 2am? I flashed back to Christmas but this time I knew that there were cartridges and insulin in his bag.  Grumbling and cursing diabetes, I filled the cartridge and stumbled back to bed.

It did not come as any surprise when my son announced the next morning that he was high.  I am sure that there were air issues and delivery issues before I put in the new insulin cartridge.  We also rarely bring a scale on our vacations so carb counting was a hit and miss (more often miss) situation. Thankfully he came down and we enjoyed a busy day of shopping and preparing to head to the great outdoors for a few days.

Of course my children’s idea of enjoying nature includes watching it from the inside of a cabin or fifth wheel while playing a video game but they are a product of their times.  In all fairness, they had also brought in water, lugged in firewood and prepared an outdoor campfire.  We enjoyed some roasted weiners and hotdog buns for our first feast of the summer season.

A little bit of fresh air, the chirping of birds and our first night’s sleep went well.  Even diabetes decided to behave.  Readings stayed around 6 (108) all evening and I was happy.

The next day was much more active and much poorer carb counting.  An outdoormen’s breakfast of breads, eggs, bacon and leftover weiners was a much appreciated feast!  After breakfast it was time to haul on the rubber boots, grab the fishing rod and head off on a quad ride to the lake. It was time to see if the fish could ignore the lure of the rods.  Sadly the ideal fishing spot was not to be found so they settled for a morning of cruising around on quad and exploring the area instead.

A day of outdoor activity resulted in a day of grazing and readings all over the spectrum.  Lots of fresh air and some night time cold medicine meant that my son was down for the count ten seconds after he put in the movie that he planned to watch.  When questioned the next morning his response was “What did you expect? I was high and had had two pills!”  Thankfully we all knew that he was not discussing any illegal drug use at the time.

All of the fresh air got to me too and I was tucked in with everyone else by 10pm. After a few hours, I got up and tested my son. The reading was beautiful.  The pump was again beeping but there was a lot of insulin left.  No worries! I tested a few more times during the night and decided that I needed to remove some of the alarms. They were getting on my nerves and my child was sleeping through them all!

After hearing a few alarms over the early morning birds, and irritated that it kept interupting my peaceful morning coffee, I decided to see what could be so important.  It seems that we had gone through all of the insulin again! I had to fill and load another cartridge. Wow! Who knew he would go through so much so quickly these days.
We finally packed up ourselves up and headed back to civilization.  As I wandered through the house figuring what needed to be packed and what could stay for our return, I noticed test strips in my room, test strips in my son’s room, and a dead infusion set sitting near but not in the garbage can.  Oy! Diabetes cannot be invisible. It leaves a trail of used supplies everywhere it goes.

Since it cannot behave I truly believe that it should not be allowed to go anywhere with us again.  It should have learned to be on its best behavoir by now!

If only it was that easy….

A George Canyon Concert…from a PoCWD perspective

Mothers Day was made extra special for me this year when my fiance told me he had bought us tickets to go and see George Canyon and Johnny Reid in concert.  I had heard that the concert was sold out months ago and had forgotten that it was even taking place so imagine my surprise when I was told that I was going!

I was thrilled to get the chance to see both performers.  I had spoke to George Canyon at a Children with Diabetes Conference and had seen him perform on at least two occasions.  They were wonderful experiences.  I have enjoyed his music since he first won the Nashville Rising Star contest and his music began to be played on Canadian airwaves.  I appreciated his talent even more when I learned that not only did he have Type 1 diabetes, but he showed people his insulin pump during interviews.  This guy was getting the message out there and that impressed me. 

Mothers Day arrived and I was treated to a lovely dinner.  Afterwards we headed to the concert venue eager to know what sort of tickets we had.  My fiancé had bought the tickets over the phone and trusted the salesperson when she said that they were good seats.  Well, for us, they were great seats! We were sitting off to the side of the stage but only a few rows up.  We could see everything with great clarity. It was awesome!  

George Canyon was the opening act.  As I sat there I began to think and wonder…Does he bring glucose on stage with him? Does he use a temporary basal reduction for the activity it takes to perform a concert? Does he have to increase his rates for the adrenaline that will be pumping? Does he have a snack before he goes on stage? What was it like for him to perform live before the pump? How would you handle that sort of schedule and activity level on an NPH regimen?  Who has the glucagon? Does any of his crew know how to use it?

My mind basically was in “diabetes mom” overdrive.  I eventually pulled the reigns in on my mommy mode and began to laugh at myself.  Who thinks of this stuff besides a mom who has a child with diabetes? Who worries about where the glucose tablets are hidden except for a parent who is always asking “Do you have any glucose in your pockets, young man?” Who watches a man perform “The Hockey Song” and thinks, “What are his readings now? Is he dropping? He was pretty active during that song, I hope he compensated for that!” 

Thankfully I was able to sit back at one point and just enjoy the concert.  George was very entertaining.  His music was upbeat and his appreciation for the crowd was awesome.  Hopefully I will get a chance to hear him again and perhaps even ask some of those questions that ran through my head at the concert. I guess once you become a parent of a child with diabetes…well then no one is safe from the Momma!

Dare to Dream…The last day of Diabetes Blog Week

It is the end of diabetes blog week already and I met the challenge! It was interesting and fun. It was great to check out so many different perspectives.  Now we are down to our last topic…pretending that a cure has been found and my son no longer has diabetes.
In all honesty, this is probably the hardest topic for me.  I do not allow myself to dream of a cure. I spend my time and energy focused on today and trying to provide the best care to my son.  I feel its vital for him to be healthy and live a long, long life. I don’t tend to allow myself the luxury of such a wonderful dream. 
On the other hand, my son definitely does dream of a cure.  Years ago when he was first put on a pump he was adamant that he would not use a pump. In his five year old mind, if he got a pump then he would not be allowed to have a cure when it was found.  Thankfully we were able to set him straight.  He then decided that when the time came, he would put his old “Lean Green Pumping Machine” in a nice case on the fireplace and remember “back when…” 
He dreams of a time when the calluses on his hands can fade.  He imagines a time when running outside does not mean testing before you go and making sure that there is glucose in your pockets.  He dreams of the day when Mom doesn’t say “Wash your hands and test!” before every meal.  He dreams of a day when he can throw out his log book and put his collection of glucometers in a drawer with his collection of Hot Wheels cars.
He will most likely still know the amount of carbs in every meal.  He will want to pull out that pump and bolus because years of Mom drilling it into have finally become habit.  He will look at the scars on his arms and legs from years of site changes and remember the cool colors that used to line his legs.  He will be happy to no longer need to use Mastisol so that sites don’t fall off with his sweat when playing. He will enjoy a wrestle without worrying about pulling out a site. He will enjoy not having to worry about running out of insulin while he is off at a friend’s.
My son will enjoy sleeping through the night without someone testing him. He will enjoy the peace of only having to get up through the night to use the washroom because he downed a litre of milk before bed. 

Mom would enjoy that too…sleeping through the night.  No longer fearing Dead in Bed each night.  It is that fear that makes me long for a cure.  Its that fear that lets me dream of only worrying about my son being a teen or young adult.  It is that fear that makes me think about a day when my biggest fear will be him sneaking off with a girl for the night or drinking with the boys. What would that life look like? Much more like the one his older brother lives.  The one with normal fears, common issues and while the consequences can be just as serious, don’t have the other factors intensifying the threat.
I will never take that dream of a cure away from my son and when I see parents lose their children of any age to diabetes, it makes me think that I should focus more on fundraising for a cure.  For now though, I still focus on today. I focus on access to better equipment. I focus on keeping my son and others healthy so that if this dream can happen…well I will have nothing to do but be a mother of two healthy young men!

Exercise…Love it or Hate it? Day 5 of Diabetes Blog Week!

Exercise….shouldn’t that be a four letter word? Actually I do love to exercise.  A good walk or a fun workout is a fabulous way to relieve stress and wind down.  My son with diabetes however thinks that a walk is definitely a four letter word to be avoided at all costs.  The other day we went grocery shopping and then I went for a walk afterwards. I asked him if he wanted to come too. He looked at me like I had three heads.  I said that the exercise would be good for him to which he responded…”I already walked today. I walked in the store with you didn’t I?”
Oy! On the positive side, he does get some exercise.  He walks to and from school each day.  He loves to bounce away on his friend’s trampoline and if he wants to get around to certain places, well his bike is the main source of transportation at his age.
He isn’t into sports or organized activities so I don’t have to worry about temporary basals and snacks.  When he swims with friends or school, it is more of a worry about sites staying in than him going low. 
We tend to use the “five rule” for most exercise.  The rule says “Never drive if you are under 5” (90 for our American friends but it doesn’t have the same ring).  We say it…Never exercise if you are under five! That has served us pretty well. We try to use a snack with fat or protein if he is going to exercise and is close to the magic five. 
My son is not a big hiker or jogger.  He does not spend a lot of time throwing a ball on the ball field.  He will help you mow the lawn.  He will haul around some rocks for a fire pit.  He is a hands on kind of kid but exercise will most likely stay as a bad word for him for a few years yet. 

To Carb or Not to Carb…Day 4 of Diabetes Blog Week!

Woohoo! Day four and I am still keeping up…well with the writing.  There are so many incredible blogs to read that keeping up with that may take a long time but I am really enjoying the great perspectives from other people.  Today’s challenge was to discuss eating…my son’s favorite pastime! 

Being the parent of a child with diabetes, we definitely are of the school of thought that you eat what you want and bolus for it.   I am very conscious of trying to eat properly and teaching my children good eating habits but they remain children first . 
Ten years ago we were taught to follow meal plans. I actually believe that is a good thing.  That sounds strange when I just said that we eat and bolus for whatever goes in his mouth doesn’t it? But seriously, when you first start on this journey, not many people are really in tune with what a balanced meal truly meals.  What are you supposed to have at a sitting? What is acceptable? What is a “good food”?  We learned to eat a fruit, starch, milk and protein for breakfast.  His morning snack became a fruit.  Lunch and supper were similar to breakfast with just a bit more starch.  An afternoon and evening snack were a little more complex.  Life was simple and there were guidelines.
Today my son is hitting his teen years.  He is in the middle of puberty.  Food and him are inseparable.  I cannot imagine how we would survive if I didn’t simply bolus for all food shovelled in.  I still try to keep his meals pretty balanced.  This morning for example, he had oatmeal and juice for breakfast.  The oatmeal had raisins so we had a starch, fruit, and milk.  Granted the protein was lacking but oatmeal is a “stick with you kind of food” so we will be okay.  He decides now if he wants a morning snack but just in case, he almost always has a yogurt to take him through to his lunch. 
Lunch tends to have changed.  I almost always have a treat in there.  That is where Mom’s cookies or cakes are to be found. In my defense, I cook with reduced sugars and fats.  I know that there is no processed crap in what he is eating.  Its not always about junky treats though.  My kids love their fruit.  They are just as happy with sliced or fresh fruit in their lunch.  They would often rather that than baking.  Its weird but I like it.
Afterschool snacks are a new thing to us.  They arrived with puberty and just scare me.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what he will eat at that point but almost always includes a piece of fruit. He will sit with a huge piece of cake…and a banana, a yogurt and an orange.  Who knows.

You can see that I allow anything to enter his stomach within reason.  He is a growing boy and so far the growing remains straight up. Its vital that he learns how to eat in a healthy manner. We have very little fried or fast foods.  He enjoys his fresh fruits and salads.  He is learning how to make better choices when we are at restaurants but it is a challenge. Its a challenge for adults so I try to give him a bit of slack.  I am conscious of the fact that he will need to watch for heart problems and that obesity is not something that he wants to ever have to battle. We are in the growing years. I do not think that it is the time to look at reducing and restricting carbs in our house. 

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.    

Diabetes Blog Week Day 2 Challenge…Glucose Tablets and Us

So are you having fun yet? Day 2 of the Diabetes Blog Week and I am still keeping up. I am so proud of myself but the topics are getting a lot more difficult. Making the low go…What is our favourite way to bring up a low? 

Personally I loved the day we found bottles of glucose tablets.  When we started our diabetes journey all we used were Jr. Juice boxes.  I thought that they were the cat’s meow. They had 15 grams of carbohydrates and you could take them anywhere.  Well sort of…after a bit of time they swell.  After a few years they ferment.  They do tend to leak and you should keep them in a baggie.  You can’t use just half a juice pack for a small low. You know those ones when they are just beginning to drop?

Candy was never a real alternative for us because my son thought is was so great to have junk that he savoured it.  Mom hovered scared to death that he would plunge and pass out.  The child sucked on that candy, licked at that lollypop and enjoyed every long second of it. Mom’s nerves just couldn’t take that sort of thing so glucose tablets became our next option.
At first we could only get the BD ones.  The flavour was awesome. I mean who doesn’t like a creamsicle? The cost was crazy. I couldn’t justify it. American friends heard of our plight and began to send us care packages.  We got tubes of glucose tablets and they came in all sorts of flavours! They had bottles of these things…and they came in all sorts of flavours!

So what is our favourite way to treat lows? Well for Mom it is glucose tablets.  They are quick.  They are efficient and occasionally just one tablet is fine while you can also give him four when needed. For child, glucose tablets are great to carry around. Candy is cool to get to eat but the Dex4 liquid? That is where its at! They are his favourite and have become a “treat”.  His brother will fake a low just to get either one. “Mom I am positive I am low. I really need those tablets/liquid”  Yes, we give out Green Apple glucose tablets or Dex4 liquid as Easter treats in our house!

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?”
“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!?!