Friday, December 21, 2012

Carb Counting with a Teen

With Christmas only a few days away,  I decided to do some serious Christmas baking today. You know, making double batches of things, making more than one recipe per day and actually having food leftover at the end of the day that my two young men have not devoured? 

I really didn't go overboard--some sugar cookies (that I actually iced!) and a cake mix that became cupcakes but all in all it does make me look like a bit of a domestic my mind at least!

As I was icing my cupcakes, I began to estimate carb counts.  Most likely the cupcakes would run around 25 grams a piece.  The cookies would depend on which shape he chose. I had used Splenda for part of the sugar.  That would change things a bit too. 

Now the "good" diabetes mom would make sure that my son weighed each cookie.  I would have the carb factor out (which is listed on my recipe) and we would know exactly how much each cookie would be.  I have given this advice to many parents.  Its much easier and more accurate that WAG'ing each piece of food. 

The "slacker" diabetes mom who lives with a teen boy who eats for more hours than I am awake knows that apart from standing over all pieces of food and shoving a scale in my son's face, that WAG is going to cover way more carbs than an exact measurement.  The cookie that is eaten as I am making supper will have a proper carb count because I will see him and yell out "WEIGH THAT!"  before he has a chance to stuff it completely in his mouth.  The cupcakes that he has after supper will also have a correct count because I will again have cleared my throat as he sat down, asking him where the scale is. After that? All bets are off. With a small bit of luck he will use the accurate measures as his guide for guessing the next dozen cookies that he eats.  

If he is off, he will most likely be high.  This should freak out the "good" diabetes mom but she is busy banging her head against the wall of her bedroom. You see her son has already told her that being 16 mmol (288 mgdl) all day long is really no big deal and certainly not worth an injection or a new site.  

Bring on the eggnog to help me through!!

Merry Christmas and Good Blood Glucose Levels to all!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Once again...

Why did I get such perverse pleasure from my son freaking out about his blood glucose dropping and my relatively cavalier attitude? Because this week brought us back full circle to Mom freaking out at him and him basically wishing that I would simply go away or at least give up the rant. 

Once again, I looked at his meter.  Once again all of those readings that he supposedly had but could not remember five minutes later were because HE DID NOT TEST!!!! Once again I lost it. Once again I yelled. Once again I told him that I HATE being lied to. Once again I said that he cannot be trusted.  Once again I wanted to sit and cry.  Once again I worried about the future. 

I still want to cry. I still am frustrated.  I still hate diabetes more and more.  My son is a teen. I get that.  He has a serious case of "teen brain". I get that too. He is not my first teenage son but thankfully he is my last. 

I hate that no matter what diabetes is there wreaking some sort of havoc in our lives.  There have been a lot of changes in our lives recently. I have a lot of other "stuff" on my mind. I am trying to create a new business.  I am dealing with new budgetary issues. There is Christmas coming up, my car that needed brakes and tires and so much more of life's daily challenges. I really did not have a lot of time to sit and hover over my son to make sure that he was testing when I asked.  It would appear that I needed to make time but... I DON'T WANT TO!!

I am tired of being the diabetes police. I am tired of testing, bolusing and counting carbs. I am tired of waking up in the middle of the night and convincing myself that I do not want to roll over and go back to sleep.  What I really want to do is to get out of bed, wander down the hallway, find my son's glucometer and test him. 

No I don't!! I want to have a "normal" life. I want to worry about him being happy.  I don't want to have to be the one to remind him that when he looks at his budget in career class, he needs to make sure that he can afford the extra $400+ per month required to keep him alive. I don't want to be the person to say "I don't think that career will pay you enough." "Do you think you will have good medical benefits with that job?" 

These aren't conversations that I have with my other son. My biggest concern with him is that he spend all of his money on restaurants and exotic groceries.   

We have been doing this diabetes thing for almost 13 years.  Some parts are easier...and some parts remain frustrating. Despite that, I am done. I am tired. I want off of this ride.  We have been on it for too long and knowing that my son will never get off tips me closer to the edge.

Once again I rant and scream. Once again it will change nothing. Once again I will breathe.  Once again my son will test in front of me. Once again I will pray that he truly "gets it" day. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mom's Revenge

I heard my bedroom door bang open and lights suddenly filled my room. My youngest son was standing over me thrusting his pump into my sleeping face. 

"What does this mean?"

"Its telling you how many carbs you need to correct your low. Are you low?"

"No I'm high."

Now I was puzzled. What the heck did he mean that he was high when the pump was telling him to eat? The answer was relatively simple. It turns out that he was higher still earlier in the evening. He had corrected and now the pump felt that he was dropping way too fast and he needed a lot of carbs to cover the drop.

I told him not to worry about it. I would try to wake up and test him in a few hours. 

"A few hours!!!! Are you kidding? I could be dead by then!!!" my son's pitch quickly escalated to panic and I was mildly amused.

"You won't die.  You wake up to your lows now remember?" 

"I woke up to a few! It was a fluke!! You can't risk my life because I might wake up! You have to stay awake. You have to test me!!!" 

Yes, I was enjoying torturing him.  He never takes diabetes seriously. He rarely ever shows concern about any diabetes related emergencies (or much else actually).  This was an entire new spin on a disease that we have lived with for too long. Normally it was me freaking out at him! 

Finally, I felt bad for him (and actually began to wonder if the pump could be right and we were heading for a serious drop).  I told him to have a sandwich and not bolus for it.  I would test him later.

He stomped off to the kitchen and got some food. I then heard him head back into his room where he continued his tirade with his older brother as his new audience. I could hear him stating that he could die and his brother had better stay awake because his mother wasn't! And did he mention that he could DIE!

I am pleased to state that he did not die.  The sandwich he ate kept him up through any unforeseen peaks in his insulin.  I didn't get a lot of sleep and but we both made it through another sleepless night with diabetes!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Diabetes Blessings...Part 2

Once again I am behind.  I could use a thousand excuses including the fact that once again I was not feeling overly blessed after looking at the large gaps in testing shown by my son's meter but I won't. Friends have truly been the biggest diabetes blessing in my life as I already mentioned but there have been others.

Another big one has been a deeper sense of compassion and empathy.  I have always considered my self a pretty compassionate person but when a chronic disease moves into your life, you develop a new perspective on things.  

I saw our universal health care system in a less flattering light. I began to understand the financial toll that diseases can create on families.  Its not bad enough to have a family member who requires life saving therapies or drug but having to reallocate resources to manage that can be exceptionally stressful.

I began to understand how Alzheimer and cancer patients' families felt. I understood their battles with government and developed a first hand knowledge of something called a "formulary" which is government talk for the drugs that they feel warrant coverage under their provincial health care systems and the ones that they deem extravagant.

My heart grew that much bigger as I began to get a glimpse of the fears of parents who deal with severe allergies and asthma.  You never know when a life threatening problem will happen.  Nights are not safe. Schools are not safe. Your children being alone is a constant worry. 

Diabetes is a nightmare.  Its costs are insane without extensive private medical insurance.  The blessing in all this is that I have developed an empathy for people who live with a variety of other disease.  Diabetes is hard but it is not the only disease that is hard.  We all have our "thing" to deal with and a blessing of diabetes is that it has shown me this in a broader light.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Diabetes Blessings Week

Last night I got an email from fellow Diabetes Advocate Mike Durbin asking everyone to take part and/or spread the word about "Diabetes Blessings Week". 

With the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I have seen many friends noting the things that they are grateful for throughout the month of November.  Gratitude is a great practice and something that I promote in my Life Coaching practice.  It is also something that I try to incorporate into my own life.

Mike asked that we blog about a few of the blessings that diabetes has brought into our lives.  Ideally you would look at one blessing per day for the week of November 19-25th.  Since I am a day late in getting started, I will try to come up with two for my first day...

Actually the top two are simple and intertwined.  My diabetes family and CWD conferences.

Its has been almost twelve years since I "found" my family.  I had just gotten onto the Internet for the first time. I searched "parents of children with diabetes".  I was instantly sent to a website and a parents email list.  There I posted a question about a battle I had been having with my toddler--trying to convince him to eat after giving his insulin.  We had been experiencing tears, vomiting, and terrifying lows. I was at my wits end. 

Within seconds I received two emails back from parents telling me what I already knew but for some reason could not do.  They told me not to give him insulin until after he ate. It was so simple but until another parent told me, I could not grasp NOT giving my son insulin. 

That was just the beginning. Over the years, these face-less friends became my support. They were there through the good times and the bad.  They understood the bittersweet feeling of having your four year old being able to lance his own finger and draw blood.  They understood the exhausting nights and the drag your butt days.  They were there to pull me out when I just wanted to curl up and hide under a rock for awhile.  They were there through diabetes fights, political battles and personal struggles.  No matter what was going on, there was always a strong shoulder to cry on and firm hand to push me forward.
Beach party with our amazing Friends for Life!

As the years went by, I was able to share the wisdom taught to me with others. I was also able to meet some of my nearest and dearest friends in person.  I travelled to visit some at a beach party.  I later travelled to visit others at what has become the foremost diabetes conference in North America--CWD's Friends For Life.  It is the one place on earth where friends connect and friendships truly are made for life.
Just a few of the amazing people that I am blessed to call "friends"

Imagine how blessed I felt when I was asked to not just attend a FFL conference but be a part of the staff? I was honored  I was humbled.  Each year that I attend, I have to pinch myself.  I am surrounded by the most amazing people in the diabetes world.  Parents, doctors, nurses, educators and advocates...and me.  It truly is the high point of my year when I am there!

Diabetes, despite its brutal nature,  has brought many blessings with it.  The two that make each day a little easier are definitely the incredible friendships I have made and the gathering of those friends at FFL Conferences each year.
More of my wonderful friends!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diabetes...Leave us alone!

Lately diabetes has been taking a backseat in my life. I have been busy with a lot of major changes and dealing with other stressors in my life.  I have left the diabetes care to my 15 year old.  Everyone says that its his disease anyway.  I see the dead test strips throughout the house. I see him bolus and after a lot of nagging, he does change his infusion sets at least once a week.

Yes, I have been frustrated by the site change frequency.  I have also taken time away from focusing on my own issues to give him the you want lumps and bumps all over your body lecture.  To which I get the usual response of "If I was a UFC fighter, I would have all of those lumps and when someone punched me they would squirt blood."  Yes, I then hit my head against the wall and ask "why me?"

I decided that it was time for things to get back to normal...or at least as normal as they ever are in our world.  I asked my son for his meter so I could see how things have been going in my virtual absence.  I knew how the nights were going. I was testing them and had made some changes but what about the rest of the time?

Well, we are left to wonder about the rest of the time because there are serious lapses in testing! I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry.  Was he ever going to learn? I asked him what exactly we were going to do about this. Of course he had no answers and neither did I.  Did I mention that I wanted to cry?

I will attempt to go back to the hawk-eyed mother I have occasionally been in the past.  I will check his meter more often. I will nag and adjust.  I will pray that he really does "get it" one day and take some solace in the fact that he does bolus for his food...well most of it anyway.
Give me strength....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy World Diabetes Day!

Today is World Diabetes Day.  This date was chosen because it was the birth date of the famous Canadian, Sir Frederick Banting.  Dr. Banting of course is one of the scientists credited with the discovery of insulin.  

Insulin is the life sustaining hormone that allows my son to annoy me and live his life to the fullest today.  On March 17, 2000 I saw firsthand how vital insulin is to a body. That is the day that doctors finally realized that my son was no longer producing his own insulin.  He was dying before our eyes.  His body was surviving by eating itself and in a two year old, there is not a lot of body to use as nourishment.  He was given 12 hours to live. But live he did and today I remain eternally grateful for Dr. Banting's discovery. 

When Dr. Banting made his discovery he felt it was the first step to a cure for diabetes.  He did not envision that over 80 years later we would still have no cure for this disease only his life sustaining vials of insulin. He did not know that for many, insulin would be a costly extravagance.  He did not know the difficulties that people in both first and third world countries would have in obtaining this life saving therapy.  

In his honor, we continue to fight to make the world better for people living with diabetes.  In Canada we work to get our provincial governments to cover life sustaining insulins and devices that will reduce the risk of complications in later years.  We lobby our federal government to provide more funding to groups and organizations who are working hard to improve technology and ultimately fulfill Dr. Banting's vision of curing diabetes forever. 

Today, I am wearing my blue for my son who lives with this horrible disease each day with dignity and courage.  I wear blue for hope...hope that his life with diabetes will improve.  Hope that he will never have to struggle to afford his supplies.  Hope that one day he will say "When I had diabetes I wore an insulin pump."   

Today I am wearing blue for the millions of other people living with diabetes, many of whom I have never met.  This disease takes a horrible toll on both those living with diabetes and those who love them.  It also has brought together many amazing people and for that I am extremely grateful.  So thank-you again Dr. Banting for saving my son's life.  Thank-you to researchers for not giving up and working to create a better life for my son and others living with diabetes.  Thank-you to the many friends, family, and followers of this blog, my  Facebook page, and the website.  Your support for these past 12 and a half years have given me strength and courage to continue each day. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A1c Guilt

Its weird.  When we get our A1c, I hate telling other people what it is.  We work hard but I know a lot of other people who work hard too. We use a pump but they use a pump too. The only CGM we have is our own regular testing. Despite all of this, I have friends who struggle to see an A1c under 8.  We have rarely, in twelve years, seen one over 7.  

I have no delusions of this lasting forever. I know my son will hit his own walls when Mom is not around. I know that I have provided a cushion for those years however. I have been told this cushion may help him during those rough years reducing the chances of complications. I pray so. 

Despite that fact, I rarely publicly state his A1c.  I feel guilty because we succeed where others struggle. I don't see us doing anything different. Maybe we are just lucky. 

My son actually sees diabetes has relatively easy! That scares me.  He says,
"its simple.  You count the carbs.  You give the insulin.  You test. You adjust. What is the big deal?" 

Wow.  I know its not that simple but perhaps it is good that he doesn't see it as that big of a burden or a problem. I know he sees it as an annoyance. I know he sees it as something he would rather ignore but it does not appear to be a "challenge" to him.  It is simply his life.  I guess that is one thing to be grateful for. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bolus for that!

Our life has been a little chaotic of late. In between boxes, garbage bags, and piles of "things" looking for their proper place diabetes has taken a back seat as much as possible. Maybe that's why it really hit me the other morning...

I was sitting at the table enjoying my morning coffee. Breakfast had been made for both boys.  Their lunches were packed and waiting for them on the counter.  My youngest had finished his meal.  I gave him his carb count and his insulin had been dosed as he ate.  

He got up from the table and put his dishes in the dishwasher.  On his way out of the kitchen, he noticed the box of Timbits on the counter from the night before.  His hand darted into the box and he popped a little morsel into his mouth.  I yelled out to his back "Don't forget to bolus for that!"

That is when it hit me...he could not just walk by and grab a snack.  He had to bolus for each piece of food that touched his lips.  I know that this is nothing new.  This has been our lives for over 12 years.  Despite that it still managed to make me stop.  My heart broke a little bit more.  It was such a natural act...and for him so was the grabbing of his pump while grabbing his donut hole. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Five Haunts our Halloween

Its November and for those of us living with diabetes that means Diabetes Awareness Month! What better way to start off Diabetes Awareness month than with a dreaded 5 mmol (90mg/dl) bg level.  

I have mentioned time and time again how much I truly hate that number.  Five means he could drop low or he could be perfect.  It should be a number to make me happy and if it was three in the afternoon instead of three in the morning I would be happy.  Five at 3am is NOT a good number. Its a torturous reading...perfect for Halloween I suppose. 

At 2:30 I stumbled into my son's room.  I was tired.  I am getting used to being able to see at night thanks to a very recent iLasik procedure.  When you have not seen properly in 30+ years, it is actually something that is very hard to get used to.  The fact that I have to wear space goggles on my face that make me feel like a character from the movie The Fly does not help things. 

Has I said, all of this was topped off by a perfect, lovely reading of 5 (90).  Crap! I was going to have to try to stay awake and see where things were headed. Would he be low? Did I have basals set perfectly and he would be fine? What the heck would happen? Where is a CGM when I need it? Oh yeah, the one I want is not in Canada and my son thinks that they are a horrible idea anyway. More nightmares! 

I headed back to bed to wait.  I would simply doze for a half an hour and see where he was trending.  I haven't been sleeping overly well lately and I am always pretty alert when I have to stay awake to retest.  This would not be a problem. 

Wrong! I woke up at 4am! What's with that??? I went to check again not sure what I would be walking into.  This time he had dropped however slightly to 4.9 (87).  Time to shovel the glucose into him.  Not enough to make him high but enough to cover any drop that could occur.  How many tablets would that be? I guessed four of my giant rockets.  They are a little less carbs than the normal glucose tablets.  It was 4 am and I really did not want a lot of math involved at that hour.  

I began to feed my son.  He ate the first three fine.  At that point, I guess he had had enough of me and subconsciously did not want the dreaded glucose tablet hangover. He rolled over so that I could no longer access his mouth. I had to tell him to open up and take the last tablet.  I went back to sleep sure that I had avoided a crisis and hoping that I did not send him too high. 

This morning he woke up to a lovely 6 (108) and surprisingly no complaint of the taste of glucose in his mouth! What a great start to November :(  Where is that cure????? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Finding your Diabetes Balance

November is coming up and once again we are facing Diabetes Awareness Month.  I once asked a person with diabetes what they do in November and they looked at me rather strangely.  I was told that every month is Diabetes Awareness month in their world! So very true!! 

Despite that, I still try to give an extra push to politicians and do some added awareness "stuff" during the month.  The month is only a few days away and while there are many great ideas floating in my head, including how to make use the US JDRF's Diabetes for a Day campaign, I have nothing concrete planned yet. 

I have however come up with something that I am hoping will help some people who are living with diabetes--be it parents or people who struggle with the disease. "Finding your Diabetes Balance" involves four intense diabetes coaching sessions offered by me during the month of November for those who feel overwhelmed by the disease.  There will be no further commitment required besides once a week for the month of November but the sessions will be intense and require your full effort. 

We will begin with looking at how diabetes has impacted various aspects of your life.  We will work together to figure out where it is hurting you the most and allow you to dream about where you would ideally like things to be in the near future.  You will then be given some homework to prepare for the second week's session.

In week two we will create an action plan.  We will see what has stopped you from reaching your goals in the past and look at the tools and resources you have to be a success this time around. 

By week three we are halfway there!  At this point you will be given an affirmation to help you relearn old habits and provide you with the encouragement to go forward.  Together we will discuss changing your perspective to allow new and more positive thoughts to become part of your frame of reference. 

For our final session, we will create a 90 day plan for you.  You will now have a clear idea of how to move forward and we will work to see that you can succeed.* 

This will bring you into December with clear goals and ready to tackle the holiday season and the new year with renewed enthusiasm! Better still, for the month of November, and for people who have diabetes living with them only, these sessions will be offered at four sessions for the price of three! So you will be able to begin to get things on track and save money for the holidays at the same time! 

Remember that you do not need to go to an office or leave the comfort of your own home for coaching sessions.  They can be done via telephone or through Skype with the same effectiveness. If you are interested in this offer or know someone else who could benefit, please contact me or pass the information along! 

*Please note that Life Coaching sessions usually take place over the course of three months.  This is a brief guide to help you move forward. Should you wish to continue with my services beyond this intense one month introduction, continued pricing will be discussed at that time. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

She Kicked Me Out!

Yesterday we had our regular clinic appointment...a day dreaded by mother and son for none of the obvious reasons.  We simply find it rather boring.  Because Mom is a bit obsessed, learns a lot, and surrounds herself with diabetes experts, diabetes clinics rarely have much new information to offer us. I also make it my job to educate my son so again, he is not often shown anything that he hasn't already heard about. I will say that the people at the clinic are pretty respectful of this but we still must wait to see the required list of people...and we are easily bored. 

Yesterday was no exception...except when the doctor came in.  She asked my son his age and then asked me to leave the room! Wow! I have never been kicked out before! Well from kindergarten but not a doctor's appointment!  

I know that he needs to learn to speak for himself and to communicate with his diabetes team.  He needs to know his rates and we are working to get him to understand where to make changes and how....BUT my son is super quiet! Don't get me wrong, once he knows you and is comfortable it is impossible to keep him quiet but for the most part he is very reserved and mumbles one word answers. How was this going to work? 

I paced the floor outside of the examining room.  The support staff looked at me and said "Kicked out, huh?"  I smiled and nodded.  This was obviously a common practice.  As I paced, and worried that she would get no information out of him. I realized how important this was.  He needed to speak up on his own now before he reaches 18 and sees a new doctor.  I try to make him answer questions when we see his team but often he defers to me.  This one on one session would make him answer the questions. 

It seemed like I was wearing a hole in the floor. What were they talking about? Were they getting to talks of sex, drugs, alcohol and diabetes? That would be good...not that I want my son engaging in any of those activities, especially at his young age, but I don't know enough about them to talk to them from a diabetes angle. 

Finally he came to door and beckoned me back in.  I tried not to be too obvious in my relief.  As I sat down, she turned to me for all of the basic information that my son could not provide...basal rates, carb to insulin rates, etc.  For some reason under the pressure of having to do it with a relatively new doctor in his presence, he had forgotten where to find the relevant details. 

I gave her the information she wanted.  She signed our DTC form without a second glance and refilled a prescription she had given my son during his last visit.  After she left, while waiting to see the other members of the team, my son expressed his approval of this doctor. Not only was she a nice person (and she is a nice looking lady which I am sure is not lost on a 15 year old male), she also told him that since he had great control he could forgo having his annual blood work.  She was a star in his eyes! I hope he realized that it was the hard work of maintaining good blood glucose control that allowed her to give him that reprieve. Either little boy is growing up! Where has the time gone? I am guessing I will be kicked out on a regular basis now.... 

Friday, October 19, 2012

DTC Happy Dance!

Yesterday I did something I haven't had to do in close to ten years...I filled out my son's Disability Tax Credit form.  For those who are not in Canada, and those in Canada who just don't know, the Disability Tax Credit(DTC) is a credit that people with diabetes who are insulin dependent can use on their taxes to reduce their taxable income. People who receive the DTC are also eligible for the Disabled Tax Savings Plan and children who receive the credit may receive a Disabled Child Benefit through the Child Tax Credit. 

The DTC, for people with diabetes, is not given because the government views diabetes as a disability.  It is given because people who are insulin dependent require insulin to live--they require Life Sustaining Therapy.  Life sustaining therapy is a subcategory of the DTC. 

Years ago, I embarked on a lengthy journey to see this tax credit be given to people with diabetes.  At that time some people got it, some didn't.  It simply seemed to depend on your stamina and the whim of the the CRA agent processing your application.  You can read my real time frustrations here but to make a long story short, after a lengthy time frame, the legislation was amended and people with diabetes were given fair and equal treatment under this act. 

Children with diabetes who were under 14 (and arbitrary age pulled off of the Internet by CRA officials) were automatically given the credit by virtue of a diagnosis of diabetes. It was assumed that the time the child and parent spent on care would easily total over 14 hours per week (the time required to qualify as needing Life Sustaining Therapy). This was a huge victory and many of my friends' children were given the tax credit until they were 16 and even 18 years old. No child was being given the credit for life. 

Despite the victory for friends, my application was to be reviewed for my son when he turned 15.  I knew it was personal.  I wasn't paranoid honest! I would go to events and see the CRA booth set up. As I walked by and they saw my name, they would instantly recognize me.  I was sure that having agents of the Canadian Revenue Agency recognize your name was not a good thing. Visions of audits and extended periods of time spent on my returns haunted my nights. 

With this in mind, imagine my anxiety at having to complete a new application for my son? I had been advised that my son's DTC status would change on January 1, 2013 unless my credit was submitted earlier.  We have a  diabetes clinic appointment next week and the doctor had told me to bring along the form for her to sign.  I was still nervous.  Would they recognize the name? My last name has changed. I have gone back to my maiden name.  Would they still make the connection with my son and his last name? Would I have to fight to prove that yes, we really and honestly do intensively manage his diabetes care. We really do use up well over 14 hours per week in diabetes related junk? I had won this battle once, thousands have since been granted the applications.  They couldn't hold a grudge forever could they? 

My mind was cynical but confident. Others get the credit. I help others, including adults, get the credit.  My application would not be denied....then I received an email from a friend.  " case you didn't know..." and she proceeded to send me a memo that noted CRA has changed its guidelines.  All children under the age of 18 who have diabetes and have applied for the DTC will now be approved without further question.  Happy dancin!! Happy dancin!!! This was AWESOME! 

My DTC application is ready to go. My heart is light and ideally, CRA will process things in a timely manner and my son's DTC status will  not change in January even for a short period of time. Did I mention...HAPPY DANCE!!!!   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I am a Diabetes Life Coach!

Diabetes is a complex disease.  It often leaves us feeling isolated and alone. It doesn't matter if we are parents of children with diabetes or the person living with the disease the feelings of grief and futility are present.  Diabetes can be overwhelming, trying and leave us wanting to crawl under the covers and wish it away. 

In March of 2000, I came face to face with diabetes in the worst possible way.  It was killing my two year old son.  When he survived and his doctor began the process of telling me what to expect and how our life would change, one thing popped into my head.  I simply heard "This is what your life is all about."  I don't remember what he said.  It was a lot of jumble about complications, honeymoon periods, and impotence at 20.  I do remember that voice though. It was clear and to the point.  I have spent the past 12 plus years trying to figure out how to come to terms with that simple sentence. 

I used my degree in psychology to try to reason with a toddler who refused to eat despite having injected insulin surging through his veins. I worked on advocacy issues. I have shared our stories and shared Rufus bears with people in the diabetes community.  I have volunteered at conferences. I have organized fundraising walks.  I have sat down with political leaders and told them our story. Nonetheless it still never felt like I was doing enough.

Recently I came across a phrase that changed that. It was the phrase "life coach". I had no real idea as to what it was but I decided that I could use one! After thinking about it, I realized that better yet...I could be one.  My life has been nothing if not full or ups and downs.  I have been blessed with some incredible supports. Perhaps it was time for me to pay it forward. 

I completed the Certified Coaches Federation's Life Coaching program and knew that I could readily apply the knowledge they provided me to families and people living with diabetes. Life coaches are a great resource to help people with diabetes identify and reach their goals.  I am not a doctor, although I play one in real life.  I do not give medical advice. I am not a counsellor. I am a mom of a child with diabetes. I am an advocate for people with diabetes. I am a storyteller of our life with diabetes. I am also now a Diabetes Life Coach.

I can work with you to help you become more focused on your care. I can help you to find your way through the maze of jargon and new lifestyle rules.  I can  give you someone to be accountable to when trying to keep yourself on track.  I will listen when you feel overwhelmed and help you to see your way through.  

I will not look at your past.  I will not judge you.  Together we will look at today, examine where you want to be tomorrow and work together to help you get there. I will not judge.  I will listen and help to guide you forward. 

A life coach can be a wonderful tool to help you on the path to better diabetes management...for yourself or your child.  Coaching can be done from anywhere.  A telephone call from your living room or a conversation in your kitchen via Skype can be the perfect setting for you to take those first steps to taking control of your diabetes with a life coach.  

For more information on Diabetes Life Coaching as well as special pricing offers, please follow me on Facebook.  Finding the right life coach is key to any journey forward.  I may not be the one for you but please make sure to find someone who is qualified and understands your situation. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why did I listen?

I could use some toothpicks to hold up my eyelids today.  First I tossed and turned in bed.  I finally fell asleep after one this morning and woke in a panic at 4am.  I wanted to test my son a little earlier than that but it was what it was. 

I dragged myself out of bed. Despite tweaks to his basal rate he was still running high. I wondered if it was a carb counting error because he simply eyeballs his cereal rather than weighing it.  Yes, he does normally get that right but still it bugs the control freak in me.  

I input the correction into his pump and waited.  Every night for the past two nights, the pump has complained of a blockage part way through the correction. Yes, that should have been a warning to me. I should have changed the site on one of those two times but his readings were pretty good at all other times.  

Foolishly, I mentioned the issue to my son and suggested that he may want to do a site change. He told me that it was all in my head. The site was fine. The reason for the alarm was that he was sleeping on his stomach when the correction was deliverying and that was causing the occlusion alarm.  

Why did that make sense to me? I have no idea.  I guess because its was a large dose of insulin versus the normal nightly basal delivery. For some reason I was okay with his reasoning...until the third time! 

Last night I once again waited. Once again I was not to be disappointed.  His pump swore that there was still a problem. I gave up.  A site change it was.  Four in the morning, weary but out came the supplies and up popped my son in his bed wondering what I was doing! I was relieving myself of further anxiety and stress. The site was moving! 

The correction worked perfectly in the new location and he swears that all is fine this morning.  I am still not sure why I bothered to listen to his logic the first time around but live and learn I guess! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Thanksgiving Wish

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. Its often a day when I will reflect on the amazing things that I am actually grateful that Diabetes brought into our lives--most importantly, the wonderful friends and new family it created. 

This year is going to be different however.  This year, I am not going to talk about diabetes at all. I am going to talk about friends--one particular friend actually. I don't remember when exactly we met. My mother worked for her parents and she was most likely there one day when I stopped in for coffee.  I haven't kept in close contact over the years but she remained good friends with my mom and Mom always kept me apprised of what was going on in her life...and what a life it has been!

Cindy has battled cancer for over twenty years, been divorced and lost her oldest daughter in a tragic car accident.  She has been happily remarried, adopted lovely young girl with her husband, and won many of her constant battles with cancer.  Her determination and her humbleness is inspiring. 

My mom called me one day and said "I heard from Cindy today. Its not good. The doctors have washed their hands of her treatment and said they will make her comfortable but there is nothing else they can do."  Despite the dire prognosis, Cindy and her husband did not give up.  They found Dr. Castillo's stem cell therapy in San Diego and Tijuana and she began this new treatment.  

To date, the treatments have been effective in shrinking the cancer in one lung and halting growth in the other.  Because of the controversial nature of this radical therapy, Cindy and her family are having to cover all of the costs themselves.  Treatments cost over $100,000 and debt in their household is growing at an alarming rate.  Cindy's husband is a dentist but with Cindy's poor health and a young daughter to take care of, he is only able to work part-time. Obviously Cindy is no longer to contribute much financially at all.   

Their dedication and Cindy's incredible courage has led many of their family and friends to do all that they can to help.  Word of Cindy's plight has been featured in Calgary newspapers and on the radio. It has moved complete strangers to fund-raise on her behalf. It has led me to dedicate this Thanksgiving post to her.  

Cindy and I have resumed our contact and she recently asked me when I was going to visit her.  My eyes teared up and I was glad this question came over a text.  I replied that I had been travelling a lot this year but hopefully my trip would come soon.  I quietly prayed that she would have many more years in which I really could visit.  

In another conversation, we discussed her then upcoming fundraiser and the fact that I would do what little I could to spread the word and hopefully generate more donations for her.  She simply replied "Everyone has been so kind."  Without a thought I stated the obvious "You deserve it!"  There was a pause before she replied, "Thank you for saying that."  Again, tears came to my eyes.  She has been through so much, given so much to others and yet seemed shocked to see that people were so willing to help her and her family. 

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of you and I am grateful that Cindy is here with us.  I am grateful that she has this holiday to spend with her family--her mother, siblings, her husband, her son, and her youngest daughter.  I am grateful for ability to provide a small donation towards her last attempt to beat cancer--and with the financial resources Cindy is confident that she will do just that! "It is a long battle," she notes "but it will be won." 

My wish for this Thanksgiving holiday is that Cindy is able to see this battle won--for her, for her family. Please, if you can, help her to win this battle. In the diabetes community we know that living should not be about money and sadly, once again it is--in the most extreme case.  Please consider sending even $5 to help this family.  I have over 1000 followers between here, on Face book, and on Twitter.  If each person sent Cindy's family $5 that would be $5000 towards her continued treatment.  $5000 towards her seeing another Thanksgiving with her family.  Please, help me to help her. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!    

Donations can be made via PayPal to email: or

Mail Cheques or Money orders to:
Cindy Smith
Suite 1114-70 Shawville Blvd SE
Calgary, AB Canada T2Y 2Z3

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Since I can't adopt you...

This summer I had the chance to sit in on a CWD Friends for Life Canada session led by Korey Hood on Diabetes Burnout. It was a great chat that once again brought out the D-Momma in me.  

I listened to adults talk about wanting a break and my heart broke. I finally spoke up and told them that I so wanted to be able to take them all home and give them that break. Sadly, I was serious! A few people were willing to take me up on my offer and asked what day they could come over. I wish my house was big enough to accommodate them although slipping into an adult's room, that was not one of my children, to test them at night may border on the creepy. 

Nonetheless, I still have that feeling--the need to protect and make life easier for people living with diabetes no matter who they are or what age.  As a result, I have been emailing daily with a young lady who was recently diagnosed.  Her struggles also touch me and make me want to adopt her--obviously I forget the frustrations that come from my own teen with diabetes during these moments! I want to help her to find her life again. 

I have been this way for a long time. It has led me to do a lot of the work that I have done in the diabetes community--the Disability Tax Credit reform, working with schools, and working with governments. I want to make it easier for others but I have struggled trying to find a place where I could make a difference to someones daily life. This past summer I found it! 

I enrolled in a course to be a Certified Life Coach Practitioner.  I was anxious and excited. Could I do this? What was I going to do? Could I really apply this to the diabetes community? Could I pass this course? The answer was a resounding YES to all of the above.  Not only could I apply it but I had finally found my passion.  

Life Coaching is about holding people accountable while they find balance in their lives.  I could now help parents to find themselves again after being swept away in the diagnosis of their child. I could help adults who struggle to find their way through weight loss goals and new restrictions because of a diagnosis of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  I could help people living with diabetes to get back to living.  I could help people to move forward to find the balance in their lives. I could be a safe place for them to vent, to cry, to scream and to move forward.  I had found my calling and the energy it has created in my life is amazing! 

Since I can't adopt everyone who has diabetes living in their homes and I can't move each and every one of you into my house, I can only offer you my ear, my insight, and a safe harbor to help you find your way through the storm. If you are interested in the idea of having a Life Coach to help you through the trees and find the sunshine again, please consider contacting me.  There are many coaches out there and I may not be your fit but I am a mother who has lived with diabetes in her home for over 12 years now.  I am passionate about diabetes care and have learned from the very best people in the world--others living with this beast! I love what I do. I love helping, listening and walking with you as you journey forward in a life with diabetes not one ruled by diabetes.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Prizes!

This is actually a look of pure joy, not pain. He HATES smiling for cameras.

As some of you may remember, I entered an essay contest sponsored by the Diabetes Hope Foundation earlier this past summer. In September they announced that I had won! My son had told me that since I used "his disease" the prize would have to go to him.  I said I would consider it. 

The prize package arrived yesterday and before I had the tape off of the box, he had claimed all of the contents. I reminded him that I wrote the essay! He replied, "You cannot use a meter therefore the prize pack belongs to me." 

I asked him how he figured that one? I could still use the iPod Touch.  He then explained, "The meter can only be used with the iPod.  Once again, the prize pack logically belongs to me because you cannot possibly use it to its fullest potential." 

I suggested that I could have it back when he gets his iPhone in the new year. He was not totally convinced but its the plan I am going with! So thank you so very much everyone who supported us and voted for my essay!! Thank you to Barbara Pasternak and the Diabetes Hope Foundation. I am so grateful for your amazing work, your dedication and for this great prize for our family!

Monday, October 1, 2012

No D Day...Just Me Day

I noticed a lot of blogs being posted on my news feed today were all stating the same thing..."No D Day".  I wondered what was going on and finally clicked on a link.  It declared October 1, 2012 to be a when we would not post anything about the "D" word.  As Ginger Vieira aptly pointed out that we are most than just people who live with that unwanted "D" named house guest.  Her post was great as she pointed out many great facts about herself. 

I was really late getting started with this and my brain was overflowing after an incredible weekend that I will be telling you about later so I was stuck. What could I post about? I loved Ginger's idea of little known facts about herself.  

I was driving to Dairy Queen thinking, I could mention my insane love of Dairy Queen ice cream cakes that should have led me far down the path of obesity. (Thankfully I rarely indulge myself in that treat any more...but yes, I was driving to Dairy Queen to pick one up to share of course!) That topic led me back to thoughts of the banished word so I decided that it would not be a good topic. 

I sat down to my computer and tried to think. I had a million things to get done, including this post but wait!! I had a Song Pop request! All had to wait. I had to see how much I could possibly embarrass myself.  

That was what I would post about!  I would admit to the fact that for some odd reason, I have been sucked into the Facebook game Song Pop.  It has even become a 2012 twisted version of game night in my family.  My sister, son and I sat in my father's living room, all with laptop and headphones, competing against one another and flinging a few choice words across the room. 

I check Facebook on a regular basis...just in case someone has challenged me to a game or played a round and then I find myself so involved in "listening" to the song that I forget to press the button actually saying who is singing or what they are singing. As I recover my senses, I then find myself jumping the gun on the next song trying to make up my points and time.  I virtually always mess up in my haste and go "but I knew that! What was I thinking hitting that button?" 

It took me a bit to get the hang of the game. I didn't realize that I could "shuffle" my play list choices before a game.  Sadly, when I learned this, I also did not realize that it would "cost" me each time I did this and was instantly out of "shuffles".  That fact coupled with my poor win/lose record left me having to employ a new and slightly warped game strategy.  To get new "shuffles" you actually have to have beaten someone for a full week of games.  That could be two games or it could be twenty but it had to be over a week. This past week, my oldest son who seems to be a music expert on every category of every era of music was actually losing to his mother. I was up by one game and he was the only person I was beating. I waited to play my turn...and I waited until the Song Pop clock declared another week and I had one new shuffle available to me. 

So there we have it. A strange and sadly not overly interesting fact about me that does not involve the D word. I am addicted to Song Pop, a game that I am admittedly terrible at but nonetheless driven to play. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Mocking Meter

It was four in the morning. I had over slept. I had wanted to check my son by three.  I had increased his basal rate to deal with reoccurring highs but he had also been doing yard work that evening and I was not sure how things were going to go in the diabetes world. 

I stumbled into his room, made my way through the landmine of dirty socks, old t-shirts and the fan he has sitting on the floor. I found the meter, strips and even a lancing devise this time. He lost one the previous night. It has yet to be found but I am sure will surface one day when I least expect it!

I tested and found that he was high.  I cursed. I felt like there was no winning.  I then looked at the meter a little closer. In the top left hand part of the screen was a little text box. It was like the meter wanted to tell me something.  We are using a Verio IQ at the moment so I know that the meter did want to tell me something. 

It had noticed the pattern of highs that he has been having overnight. At four in the morning, when you are tired and frustrated because diabetes has once again messed you (and your child) up completely...(I mean he should have been low not high after an upped basal AND physical activity), the last thing you want to see is a know-it-all blood glucose meter telling you the obvious--Diabetes kicked your butt once again! 

Looking at that small little icon, I could hear the meter say "He is high. He has been high at night for some time.  You really should up his basal rate.  This can cause problems later. What is wrong with you? Why haven't you done this already? Are you thick? I am giving you the icon.  Get with it won't you!"

I cursed a little more and left the room. Maybe I will get it right tonight...maybe but probably not. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I do it

Over the past few months I have heard a lot of anxiety and stress when it comes to testing your child with diabetes' blood glucose at night. Its a topic that can divide the diabetes community and raise blood pressure faster than the mention of Halle Berry or pumping versus multiple daily injections. It can create strife among friends and cause a serious strain on marital relationships. 

I am a night tester. I have been for the past twelve plus years. I will continue to do it for as long as my son lives under my roof. When he leaves my home, ideally he will have a CGM (that he will use) that will take the place of his current CGM aka Mom

My son sleeps soundly at night. He has looked the most peaceful when his bg levels have been out of whack.  That terrifies me.  In recent months, he has woken up to the occasional low--much to his dismay and his mother's delight. I do not yet trust that this will happen all of the time and as one adult pointed out in The Diabetes Dad's post on this topic, there is no telling how low he was or for how long before he woke up.  

Dead in bed is a very real fear.  Its something that too many people in our diabetes community have seen first hand.  I was recently told that there are only four cases of dead in bed in the WORLD each year.  The point was made to help quell over zealous fears but I think some fear is a good thing. It gives you respect--respect for a disease that is ruthless and deceptive.  

Diabetes does not show itself in anything but bad attitudes, fatigue and occasionally nausea or thirst.  You see it when a glucometer is pulled out, when a syringe is injected or pump peaks out from a belt around someones waist.  It does not however tell you before you go to bed, "Please know that while you are sleeping peacefully well, and despite that basal adjustment you made for the yesterday's activity last night, tonight your child's insulin needs will still be low.  Since you didn't realize that and did not give him an extra snack or reduced basal rate, I will make sure that his blood glucose drops really low tonight.  You won't notice. He will be peaceful and you will sleep pretty sound after all of these nights of broken rest.  Don't worry, I will take care of things. I will deplete his liver of glycogen and this time? Well this time I will cause a seizure in his body, shaking his bed and waking the house.  You will get to him in time, take him to the hospital but none of you will take me for granted again....until the next time." 

That is not the only reason that I test at night. I test out of respect and a desire for knowledge.  Knowledge is power and if I do not test my son during the night, I have no idea about the highs and lows he may have experienced. He may go to bed and wake up in range but during those 10+ hours, he may also have been low, high and a few readings in between. I am only human. I will not catch them all but I will catch a few. I will get an idea and it will allow me to keep him healthy. 

Night testing is a family choice. In my family, I choose to do it. I am not obsessed by it. I naturally wake multiple times during the night (and did this before diabetes moved in).  When I wake, I am okay with stumbling into my son's room and testing him. Its selfish--I feel better doing it. Again, the choice is yours.  Do what works for your family but make sure your choice is an informed one. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

All in a night's work

"Your correction didn't work." 

"What do you mean?  Did you fix it?"

My son looked at me a little strange. "There must have been a kink in the tubing or something.  The correction didn't work. I fixed it when I got up."

It was now my turn to be perplexed. "Why didn't you just fix it last night when I corrected you?" For some reason I feared an occlusion alarm last night but really didn't worry because my son was awake and would be able to deal with it. 

"Why would I fix it?" he asked. "I was asleep." 

I told him that he was not asleep. He jumped up in his bed when I took his finger to test and then sat there staring at me.  When I did test him I asked him if he felt high.  He said no so I retested to make sure that the meter was accurate. I also asked him if he had been high before he went to bed but he didn't think he had remembered to do that last test. 

My son continued to look at me like I was insane. "I did not wake up last night. I don't remember you coming in to test me. I never talked to you after you went to bed until now." 

The look on my son's face when he jumped up in his bed did make me wonder if he was low or a little bit out of it.  My boys do talk in their sleep and have been known to climb walls while chasing someone in their dreams so the fact that my youngest failed to remember any of our conversation last night is not overly concerning.  The fact that he was high after being lower the night before is more likely attributed to the incredible amount of restaurant pizza than it is to a rebound. All in all, its just another night in our slightly odd life with diabetes! 
I often feel like the mother in Robert Munch's "Love you forever"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Phil, the SUPER COOL Animas Penguin

In honor of Wordless Wednesday, meet Phil the SUPER COOL Animas Penguin. He was way too cute not to bring home from this summer's FFL Canada Conference

(And his belly is made to practice inserting infusion sets) 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Diabetes won't fill that space

With a new school year and a new teacher comes the ever popular "back to school" essay.  My youngest son never ceases to frustrate me when it comes to such things. Two classes and four days later, his essay on introducing himself consisted of four sentences--his name, his age and where he had lived in his life.  Getting more out of him was going to be torture...and it was! Thankfully, after hearing that he could write pages on the importance of the advent of a toaster to heat his Eggo's each day, it appears that the frustration was saved for essays done at home where Mom could see them and go insane. 

His essay was due today, so at 9:30pm last night he came down to my office. I was working on my own "homework" (an online course that I will be telling you about in greater detail in the coming months) but he was stuck.  He had to introduce himself to his English teacher. 

"Mom, pretend that you don't know me and tell me all about me."  

"How can I tell you about you when I don't know you?"  


I began with his love of animals, the fact that he enjoys being outdoors and on quad, his gaming addiction and ended with the fact that he cheated death at age 2 and now lives with Type 1 diabetes. 

He proceeded to write about his pets in detail.  The two dogs, the cat and the fish that respond to any name as long as there is food involved.  He went on to describe the quads that he has at his father's house as well as the one he owns here.  He wrote about his trip in the woods that very day and what he enjoyed about it.  He told her about his favorite Xbox game and the origin of his gamertag.  

I asked him about writing about diabetes.  He told me that he had too much space to fill up and diabetes would only take up a few lines.  He wanted to fill out the other paragraphs first.  He expanded on his life. He was not just 15 but he was the youngest of two boys.  His older brother was now living with him while going to school. He had family living around the globe.  

Again, I suggested the diabetes part.  He added more to his Xbox addiction sighting exactly what he liked about his favorite game. He mentioned that he has traveled a lot over years.

After a torturous hour, he was done. He had one page about himself! He had paragraphs. He had information and he was able to press save. As I watched him leave, I noted that nowhere in his essay was diabetes mentioned. In his world, it was not important. It did not warrant discussion in his essay. It was a non-issue for him.  If only it was really that simple.