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.