Monday, June 28, 2010

My life in Chaos

I apologize still for not getting back to part two of the diabetes walk. It is coming but I believe it deserves my full attention and at the moment, I am experiencing extreme attention deficit disorder!

For those who don't know, we are in the middle of a major move of home, office and kids. I think that this is the biggest step I have ever made because of the impact on my children.  Me moving is no big deal but when you have other lives to consider? Well things become a little different.  Nonetheless, I decided that this was right for us and now I am in the middle of it all!

Despite making this decision quite a few months ago, the final details were only completed a few days ago.  I have had to sell off furniture, pack, get doctor referrals and finish a school year all in the mater of days! 

I think I have done a pretty decent job.  We were packed and ready to bring yet another load of "stuff" to our new home (which is nine hours away) the day after school closed.  No panic there! We made it however and the trip once again was interesting.  For a change, I don't think I forgot anything.  Another new twist was that my son ran high for most of our travels.  We have gotten very good at increasing boluses and using what we have called a "travel basal" but something is currently off.

First though, as we taking our huge drive, we stopped at a restaurant because my children foolishly insist on being fed! As our waitress came over, my son had his meter sitting on the table and was preparing to test. The waitress was completely interested. "Is that a new meter?" 

"No", I answered, "its an Ultra Mini.  We have it in about five other colors."

She was impressed and stated that her niece was diagnosed at two and a half.  I said that he had been diagnosed at the same age.  She then stated that after much misdiagnosis, her husband was diagnosed at 29!  We discussed the fact that there was just no good age to have such a terrible thing happen.

Its been a bit since we had that sort of interaction but they are always great!

We left the restaurant and continued along our way.  My son continued to run high.  What was up with that? It must have been all of the french fries.  More travel basal, more water, more insulin.  The next day we experienced a pretty normal day.  He had one reading around 10 (180).

This morning I got up and heard his pump alerting. It was a low cartridge alarm.  Lucky for him, it was just alarming so I was only so choked. I still made him get up and deal with it.  I was not happy to see the reading just under 30 (540).  We corrected. I have no idea where the ketone meter is and my pharmacy was out of ketone strips before I packed to move.  Yes Mom is frustrated.  

An hour later, more testing.  He is down to14 (252).  More insulin and he is holding his own.  He couldn't eat breakfast because he was nauseous.  Mom is so happy.  He has crashed on the couch for a bit.  More banging of my head.

I am sure he is growing.  He is heading for two weeks with his father though and I am really at a dilemma as to what changes to make before he goes. Chances are he will be a lot more active.  If this really is growth hormones, well changes should still be made. We will be in constant cell phone communication but still can't diabetes take a summer vacation please? We have dealt with enough of this already!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Diabetes Walk for Hope...Part one

First let me appologize. My blogging has been pretty spotty lately.  June is always a terrible month for me. I am super busy with commitments for my childrens' schools.  This June we have had the added pressure of a move and an uncertain moving date so my life has been thrown into an even greater state of chaos than normal. 

Admidst the chaos however, there is always a bit of consistency.  That conisistency is the incredible flood of emotions that always takes place during and after my son's school annual diabetes walk. 

For those who don't know, my children go to very small schools. My child with Type 1 diabetes has about 50 students in his school from kindergarten to grade 8.  Each year these students go out and raise money with one thought in mind...diabetes. For some this means that they are walking for a family member and for others it means that they are walking for my child.  No matter who is their inspiration, their efforts reduce me to tears every year. 

As I walked through the halls of the school on walk day, the first tears began to swell.  I had been grumbling about the lack of sanity on my part for taking on such an ambtious job in the walk t-shirts for this year. They were very labour intensive and I do not have a lot of spare time at this moment in my life. Someone suggested that this was a waste of my time because the kids would only toss their shirts in the drawer, never to be worn again.  I knew better.  This walk proved it once again. You see each year when our kids walk, you see a variety of walk t-shirts strolling through the halls of the building. They have various walk t-shirts on that they have earned over the past seven years.  It warms my heart to "see" their support. 

They don't do this for the prizes.  They never know what they will be getting this year.  T-shirts are given out based on how much money they earn and they don't get their shirts until the last day of school (it helps with students like my own son who forget to get all their money from their sponsors on time).

The tears began to flow for real when I started to open the bags of money and read the sponsor sheets.  We live in an area of high unemployment and retirement.  The school now sees two or three children from one family trying to all collect the same monies. Despite all of that, there were still amazing amounts raised by children from all levels. Kindergarden students who have never been a part of this event raised amazing amounts of money.  Older students walking for their family members sent me to even more tears. 

As I look forward to moving on with my life, I look back at this school and the tears flow like never before.  They have been so very, very good to us in so many ways.  They have been more than a source of education. They have been a family who were there for us every step of the way.  They have made a huge difference in our lives and saying "see you again another day" this Friday will be one of the hardest days I have had in a very long time!  I have been so very blessed to have know the staff and all of the students who have wandered those halls over the past 12 years. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

CSI and my car

Yesterday was a truly beautiful day. I enjoyed a lovely brunch, had a walk along the beach with Larry and then came home to clean vehicles. Okay the last part is not exactly my ideal topper to a relaxing Sunday but the vehicles were in dire need of soap and it was a beautiful day (unlike the many days of rain and cold we had been having). 

HIs truck was cleaned, polished and squeaky clean.  Next came my car...I am hoping it will still start and not be in a state of shock because it is clean and waxed with its tires gleaming. Its not that I never clean my car but I don't tend to detail it the way it was done yesterday. 

As we were cleaning here and there, getting at every nook and crannie, I began to laugh.  Its amazing how times have changed but somethings have remained the same.  Over the years, my cars tend to build up with large amounts of blood droplets.  I always wonder what someone would think if they looked into my car without knowing about its passengers.  

We have handsanitizer for tests on the go.  There are test strips hidden in places that I didn't know existed. There is enough glucose to keep a family of four fed for a week.  My car has blood on the seat belts where my son kindly will wipe his hands after testing.

Its all of the blood that makes me laugh.  I think of those purple lights that you see on tv.  Can you imagine if they were to shine one of those things on my car? I tend to wash off a lot of the blood but that stuff supposedly shows the blood that has been cleaned.  My car would light up in the backseat and passenger seat. They would think that I was transporting mutilated bodies or something! 

Ah the parts of living with diabetes that can make you smile! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Follow Up....

The good news is that after the insulin/ketone disaster of Thursday, both mother and son are still alive.  It took close to twelve hours for my son to come back to himself.  He spent the whole afternoon on the couch and slept for close to five hours.  During the entire time I was testing, checking for ketones and administering more insulin.  As he blood glucose levels began to drop but ketones stubbornly hung on, I was beginning to get a little nervous when I was giving him more insulin but thankfully Mom got it right.

By the time the evening arrived, my son was adamant that he did not want this to happen to him again.  He swore that he would listen to alarms. He would never allow his cartridge volume to go down to zero again. I knew that those were all of the words that I wanted to hear but also knew that he was a young man with swiss cheese for a mind at the moment.  I prayed that this time what had happened would truly break through and hit his grey matter.  This time he really would learn from what had been a life-threatening situation. 

Saturday he headed over to his father's once again.  I had him check his cartridge before he went out the door. He had more than enough insulin to last him the weekend. I told him that when he came home he was to change it right away...or as soon as it alarmed. 

Sunday came.  He came home and after a few hours the low cartridge alarm sounded.  I waited to see what he would do.  Sadly I was not disappointed...he simply turned it off. I asked what the alarm was.  He said it was a low cartridge but he was going to shower in a few minutes. He would then change his site and his cartridge at the same time.  Again I waited.  He showered.  He headed off to do his homework.  I reminded him of what had happened on Thursday.  I was adamant. He was sitting down and dealing with this now before it was forgotten. He sat down and got the site changed and cartridge put in.  I could breathe again for a few days. 

Today I asked to see his pump. I wanted to know exactly how long he had been without insulin. How quickly did my child's condition escalate to DKA? I scrolled through the history and was surprised to find out that he had a low battery that day as well. He ignored the battery and the insulin cartridge alarms.  By midnight Wednesday his pump shutdown and the household slept through the sirening of the pump. I was in shock.  As the numbness set in, I realized that I should not be surprised.  Both father and son can sleep through a fire alarm. Nothing wakes them up...not even a pump that is shutting off.  This left me terrified. 

He went eight hours with no insulin. No one noticed that the pump was completely shut off. No battery was changed. Nothing was done until he walked through the door at my house on Thursday morning....and was terribly sick. 

My son looked at me and swore that he had learned his lesson. He repeated that he did not want to go through Thursday ever again. He said that he would pay attention to his alarms.  I reminded him that on Sunday he had done just the opposite.  He had turned off the alarm and quickly been sidetracked.  He said that he was going to change.  For his sake I am praying that he does. Mom is going to stay very, very on top of this for awhile yet though. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another Face of Diabetes

I usually protray the faces of diabetes as being "normal" looking. If you look at our Faces page you will see children playing, adults working.  You will see people that could be anyone on the street. Today I want to show you another face...

This face will not be pleased with me for exposing it but nonetheless, I want you to look closely.  This face with diabetes is terribly pale.  There are dark circles below the pale blue eyes.  Those eyes look hollow. If you look closely, you will see the shirt worn by this person with diabetes.  The dark stain at the top is either from vomit or more likely from the water that his hands were too shaky to hold.

This face with diabetes reflects the rages of diabetes.  He is high. He is hypergylcemic.  He is ketonic.  His body is running off of its own muscles and tissues to stay alive rather than the glucose brought to it through food.  His cells are starving as he vomits and urinates any liquids that enter his body before they can be used to hydrate or fuel his body.

This face with diabetes is the result of no insulin for only a few hours.  Despite multiple pump alarms to say that insulin levels in his pump were dangerously low, the reservoir was not refilled.  Despite a mother telling this child that he needed to drop into her house and get more insulin before he returned the next day, the insulin reservoir was not filled until it was completely empty. 

Thankfully he chose not to eat or things could have been much worse but it took eight hours to bring blood glucose levels back into close to normal range.  It took over eight hours to bring moderate ketone levels down to trace.  Had he have gone eight hours without any insulin, well the results could have been disasterous. 

Insulin is what keeps him alive.  After only a few hours without this life-giving hormone, this young man was terribly ill.  If left for a longer period of time he would have been fighting for his very life.

Diabetes is serious.  In case we may have forgotten, it rears its ugly head and provides faces of hyperglycemia.

Please support the Ecole Notre Dame du Cap Walk for Diabetes on June 18th.  Donations can be made online on the website.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gettin' into the last time

School year end is always a busy time for any family.  There are final exams for some students.  There is the countdown to no more school lunches and the joy of no more homework fights for a few months.

I am very involved in my youngest son's school and have been since my oldest child started there...well a few years ago.  The school is very special and works hard to make the school atmosphere very much a family one.  The end of the year therefore becomes exceptionally heck tick.  We have a day at the park when the parents enjoy the sun and then barbeque for the students. There is sports day when I wonder if Liam will sweat off his infusion site or if we have it stuck with enough Mastisol.  There is the year end festival which evolved from a year end concert into a fabulous day of games, food and entertainment.  

The most special of all days, for me, is the Diabetes Walk day.  This day began seven years ago.  We would go to the teachers each year and ask for their support in our fundraising efforts for a diabetes walk in another town.  One year, Liam's teacher said that she would not sponsor us.  She wondered instead if we would be okay with the school doing its own walk for the cause.  I was overwhelmed and so appreciative. 

We live in a very small, rural area.  It was once known to have the highest rate of unemployment in Canada. I don't know if we still hold that infamous title but many of the families living here are retired or single income. When the first walk took place, we had less than 50 students from Kindergarten to grade 8.  I thought that if we made $500 we would have done an incredible job.  Some students would get a lot of money and some would have a hard time coming up with $5.  You can imagine my surprise then when the students raised over $1300.  Each year the dollar value grew. 

To date they have raised over $13,000 for diabetes charities.  The number of students has grown slightly.  We now easily have 50 students from Kindergarten to grade 8 and they remain just as generous and dedicated to the cause as they were seven years ago.  

The day has become a full day event.  Students are taken to a local park where they enjoy a treasure hunt before lunch.  At noon they are fed pizzas cooked in an outdoor oven.  After their stomaches are full they begin their walk.  They all know who they are walking for.  Many may not know exactly what the disease means but they can put a face to it.  They also know that the money they have raised has helped people in their community.  The Diabetes Hope Foundation has a program that assists young people to purchase their supplies when no one else will. 

This year is bittersweet for me.  There is still so much work to do but it will be my last year.  We are moving and my son will be changing schools.  We will be leaving the area that we have called home for so many years.  

Before that happens, I will still make sure that t-shirts are ready for students who raise a certain amount of money for the walk.  Sponsors have donated other items to further help show our appreciation.  I have also created a link on the Diabetes advocacy home page so that those who wish to donate can help make this final diabetes walk extra special and help Ecole Notre Dame du Cap continue to help people living with diabetes.