Friday, February 28, 2014

BC Takes Another Step Forward

Last night I returned from an evening out to see all sorts of posts about an announcement from the BC government.  They have decided to expand their insulin pump program to include young adults up to age 25.  This is fabulous news! No longer will young adults entering the workforce have to turn off their pumps at age 18.
This is not however the final battle in this war however.  There are still people over 25 who desperately need the help of their provincial medical plan to cover their insulin pump expenses. This is a fight that we will all continue until everyone living with diabetes in Canada  who require an insulin pump but cannot afford to pay for one, will have access to one.
In BC, the driving force behind the recent change is not happy to sit and savor this latest victory.  She is asking that people in British Columbia “please write the Hon. Minister Terry Lake and tell him that funding insulin pumps up to age 25 is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I am begging all of my friends from BC to even just write a short email saying that we need pump funding for all ages of people living with TYPE ONE DIABETES with no age restrictions for people without extended health benefits to pay for them. It could be your family member that is in need of this life saving device. He needs to know that this is unacceptable. Please send it to and carbon copy to (NDP health critic), your MLA and the premier .”
Congratulations to BC advocates for getting to this point!  Good luck to advocates across Canada who seek to have their provinces follow the example of the Ontario government and fund ALL insulin pumps for people living with diabetes.  This is a moment to savor…and then move forward in a war that we will win for everyone with diabetes in Canada who wishes to use an insulin pump.
bc expands coverage
Details of insulin pump coverage by province can be found at

Monday, February 24, 2014

FIFTY YEARS of diabetes!

Over the weekend I was sent a link to a blog post.  That is nothing unusual. I regularly get links to articles on how to cure diabetes, the evils of sugar, and how to deal with my erectile dysfunction.  This article was different however. It was from a man I had met online years ago.
I truly don’t remember how exactly our paths crossed. I have used his online store at times for various diabetes related supplies. I have promoted the things that he does and follow the newsletter that he sends me on occasion. I know that he was helpful in promoting and working on changes to both the Disability Tax Credit and the insulin pump program in Ontario.
Despite all of this, we hadn’t personally connected in quite some time.  I was therefore very pleased when I received a note from him over the weekend.  It turns out this incredible man who lives with diabetes, is now a Certified Diabetes Educator, successful businessman, and a pharmacist, is also celebrating FIFTY years living with diabetes!
Fifty years! Imagine that! What does fifty years with diabetes look like? How much have things changed? He seems to be healthy and thriving.  How has he done it? Was it “easy” for him? Does he have a wonderful support network? What advice does he have?
Tino Montopoli answers those questions and many more in his open letter to people living with diabetes. I encourage you to read it in his entirety.  It will move you. It will surprise you.  And personally his best advice for anyone, living with diabetes or not is “Never lose sight of your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Follow your heart and passion to do what you want to do. Never let diabetes stop you from following your dreams.” There is so much more that he shares and so much more to inspire you about life as well as life with diabetes.
Thank you so much for sharing Tino! Please go to Diabetes Depot to read his complete post and if you are looking for a great source for diabetes supplies, check them out as well!
Tino is presented Joslin’s 50 year medal by Dr. Bruce Perkins

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Diabetes Coaching? What is it all about?

In the past few weeks, I have had quite a few people asking me about diabetes life coaching. What is it? What is involved? Can you help me to get my readings under control? Will you help me to fix my dosages?
Life Coaching is a process driven by you.  Just like a hockey coach will help to bring out your very best hockey game by offering you skills drills, a life coach will suggest tools and exercises to help you to get the very best out of your life.
As a coach, I cannot change your insulin dosages but I can encourage you to work with your CDE and even suggest some great people who are qualified to do this.  I can help you to work with your moods or those of a loved one. I can help you to find coping mechanisms that work for you and your family.
I cannot help you to figure out how to deal with exercise and your diabetes.  There are great coaches out there like Ginger Vieria who already do a fabulous job at that and are much better qualified than I am. Again, I can help you to get in touch with someone who can help you.
As a life coach, and a person who has lived with a child with diabetes for the past 14 years, I listen and will offer my own experience. I work with you to find ways to deal with the issues that you are facing each day.  A life coach helps you to examine your life as a whole and see how to work on the parts that are out of whack with how you would like things to be. I work to help you to adjust to this new life.
You decide what needs fixing.  Together we decide how best for you to fix it.  It is then my job to keep you accountable to do whatever we have decided will help to fix things for you.
I am not a counselor, although I may suggest that you see one.  I am not a CDE, although they may be what you require. I am a parent. I am a certified life coach. I do have a university degree in psychology.  I have been learning about diabetes daily for 14 years. I have overcome my own obstacles and continue to meet new challenges.  As a life coach, I pass along my experiences and help you to find your own way
If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me and we will connect to see what is right for you to help you get your life back on a track that you can once again enjoy to the fullest.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Test Strips Really Do Reproduce!

Test Strip Graveyard
The other day I was sweeping the floors and made a discovery that shocked me. There had been one test strip laying on the floor outside of our downstairs bathroom. I have swept around it for weeks. My son left in January and diabetes trash has served to be small reminders of him.
Yes, this shows a small bit of my psychosis. I am an empty-nester who still has issues. I read about it online the other day. It basically said I was crazy and trash is trash but I am not alone in my insanity. I still have part of a cartridge sitting in my car because…well its something my youngest son used. Under normal circumstances, it would have long been thrown away and I would have yelled at him for leaving his junk in my car.  He moved away and suddenly this stuff is a treasured possession. Yes, I definitely have issues.
I have not left his room as a shrine (another thing noted in this article on empty nest syndrome). He actually complained the last time he was here because the bed in his room now has a shiny duvet cover that he did not feel was manly. His brother’s bed covering is much more neutral.  I talk to both of my sons on a regular basis.  They are still a big part of my life but still  I do smile now when I come across a test strip…until the other day. On that day I got a little creeped out!
As I have admitted, I will sweep around one test strip. I will leave a dead soldier on the floor of his room and smile as I walk by it to feed the fish.  I am not a hoarder nor am I into dirt and garbage piling up.  Subtle reminders in places that ideally only I see are fine but let’s not go overboard (see no white jackets required at the moment!).  The other day, as I moved my Swifter throughout the small bit of floor space on our lower level, I was surprised to see that the one test strip that I had been watching now had a friend. There were two test strips that had somehow found their way out of a garbage can and onto our floor. This was not good. I put them in a spot together and knew that they would have to be returned to the trash that day.
I continued to clean and tidy but was again surprised to find test strip number three! Okay, I have admitted to not picking up ONE test strip but honestly I do not keep a bunch garbage around “just because” it reminds me of one child.  There is a limit even for me so how did I end up with three used test strips on my downstairs floor? I have not had anyone in the house testing their blood in over six weeks. I honestly clean my house and my floors on a regular basis. There is no way for me to now have THREE test strips in one small area.
There was only one reasonable answer.  Test strips, like dust bunnies really do reproduce! If only we could get the unused ones to do this, a lot of people would be able to test a lot more for a lot less money!
The test strips have all been moved to the garbage can.  The question remains however…will they really stay there this time?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back Away from the Pump. Its NOT your toy

At the end of August, my son got a new pump. We had been lovers of the Cozmo pump for over 10 years.  It physically hurt to have to put it away but with no warranty and a child living hundreds of miles away, it seemed best to make sure that he had a pump with a company still behind it if he had any issues.
We both shed a few tears as we put his beloved "Lean Green Pumping Machine" in a box and brought out his new pump.  When we sat down with his pump trainer, the trainer dealt with my son. Mom stayed in the background.  The trainer talked to him when going through how it worked. My son is too big for me to hover over his shoulder so again, I just sat back and let him learn. It felt a little strange.
After she left, he let me touch the remote bolus and test drive it a bit.  Soon though, it was hands off. I could touch it at night if he was out of range but that was it. I had not other reason to use it. If there was a change to be made, he did it. If there was a site change to be done, he did it.
As time went on, I used the pump less and less and I began to put it out of my mind. This was not my new toy to check out. It was his.  When we had a problem, I grabbed the manual to help him figure out where to go but again, I checked a book while he was six steps ahead of me navigating through the pump screen itself.
It has been five and a half months since my son started on his new pump and now I can barely figure out how to bolus him with it. On the other hand, he has no problem making corrections, adjustments or anything else required.
A few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about new pumps for our kids. Her child is also holding strong to her Cozmo but they know that a new pump needs to happen sooner rather than later. I casually told the mother not to be concerned about the pump that her child goes on next because she won't be playing with it. It will be her child's pump and Mom doesn't need to know how to operate it.
She thanked me.  We have been so used to handling everything, checking out each device, and learning on an ongoing basis that as parents, we can forget that this isn't our disease. When our children were 2, 3 or 5, this was our disease no matter what anyone else said. Now that our children are 16, 17 or 20 we have very little input.  We have been relegated to the sidelines whether we wanted to be or not.  We can make suggestions. We can nag a little but our children are now young adults who will do what they feel is best. The only thing we can now hope for is that some of what we have taught them along the way has found a home in their own thought processes. It's a huge step but we can all do this with one foot in front of the other...and back away from the pump. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Outrun Diabetes Creates a Lump that Won't Go Away

I started my car and enjoyed the warmth. I hadn’t realized how cold I still was until I began to feel the tingling of life coming back into my fingers. I quickly put my car in drive and hurried down the hill to catch up with the runners.

It didn’t take long to be in a caravan of people and vehicles.  The slow-moving procession allowed me time to think. Quickly memories began to play out in my mind’s eye.

I thought of the groups of people talking amongst themselves. They were introducing themselves and telling their diagnosis stories.  As people with diabetes do, they were comparing insulin delivery methods and sharing experiences that only other people with diabetes understand.

I remembered seeing insulin tubing peeking out of someone’s running gear. I wondered if the owner was concerned about the insulin breaking down in the tubing because of the cold.

The group continued into the heart of downtown St. John’s.  The RCMP allowed safe passage through busy intersections.  We were still going slow enough that it was safe to continue to allow my mind to wander a bit more.

I watched a young man jump out of the pilot truck.  Being a D-Momma, I instantly panicked.  Was someone low? Did they need glucose? Had a site fallen out? What was going on? It turned out that nothing was going on.  The young man was taking video and pictures to continue to document the journey.  He had probably been in the truck to simply warm up and was now back out with the rest of the group.

The pilot truck was filled with diabetes supplies and glucose.  Sebastien Sasseville is the first person in Canada to use the new Animas Vibe. He has a pump and CGM giving him data at all times.  He has a great concept of how diabetes, exercise, extreme temperatures, and food all interact in his body. He would not be low after less than an hour of activity and hours of adrenaline.

I watched as runners slowly dropped off.  Cars began to take their exits and return home.  I felt a lump in my throat.  I had been a part of something amazing.  This was the start of a journey that would touch thousands of people living with diabetes.

I don’t normally get sappy and emotional over things like this.  What was wrong with me? I don’t know but there was so much hope surrounding this run.  This run would not result in a cure but it showed hope.  Sebastien showed that anyone can do anything that you set your mind to.  He tells people that you do not need to be an athlete to challenge your body.  You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest or run across Canada to challenge yourself.  You simply need to set your own goals and work slowly and steadily to achieve them…no matter what limitations you may think you have.

I watched Sebastien run off with only two other people accompanying him now.  I turned my vehicle onto my exit.  I drove along a bit further and pulled off to the side of the road.  The lump was still there. I remained moved by that picture of a young man jogging  followed by one vehicle. Sometimes he would run alone but Sebastien would never be alone.  Along his run, he would carry with him the well wishes of many people that he has already touched.  He will gather up wishes of people that he will meet along the way.  He will spread hope and awareness.

I took a breath and pulled my car back onto the road.  This had been a morning that I would not forget for a very long time.
Outrun diabetes

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Beginning of a Run To Outrun Diabetes

outrun diabetes truck
A Run Across Canada to Outrun Diabetes…now I have driven across Canada.  I did it with two young children and my mother. It was amazing. The country of Canada is diverse and incredibly scenic. In car, we drove long hours and took a couple of weeks to make the journey
Sebastien Sasseville will take nine months and do it on foot. He is going to break the country down into a number of marathons and travel at least 200 km per week…on foot.  He is not going to enjoy the view from a plane or even a car. He will be enjoying the view from the comfort of his running shoes.  What a view it will be!

When I drove across Canada, many people thought I was crazy.  It is an incredibly long drive.  Heck, it’s a long plane ride! Driving however allowed us to truly see the beauty of each area. We ate meals in provincial parks and were able to spend time stopping to meet with family and friends along the way. It was an incredible experience for all of us.  Now imagine running this same distance. The view will be that much more intense.  The chance to interact with many more new people along the journey will be incredible but face it you still think its crazy! I don’t blame you.

I live in the most eastern city in North America.  This means that many people come here to start epic runs much like Sebastien has.  Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, most fade off into obscurity and never finish what they have started. I have no doubt that this will not be the fate of Mr. Sasseville. He has climbed Mt Everest.  He ran 250km across the Sahara Desert.  He has completed over seven Iron Man competitions all while living with diabetes.  Running across Canada is just another challenge that he will meet.

It was with that knowledge that I layered up and headed to Signal Hill.  Signal Hill offers a magnificent view of both the Atlantic Ocean and the city of St. John’s and surrounding areas.  It is also cold, windy, and did I mention cold? I had on my long underwear, an extra shirt under my sweater and gloves that would work with my camera.  I was going to have as much photo documentation of this event as I could.

As I drove up the hill, I wondered what I would see. Would there be a big crowd or would it be small? I had been asked to spread the word about this event and I had.  There seemed to be a lot of interest but this was a particularly cold day.  A storm was brewing, would people really show up?

outrun diabetes start groupA news vehicle merged onto the road behind me.  There would at least be media coverage.  As I parked, I saw clusters of people chatting and working to keep warm. I saw a few people who I knew. We said hello, talked about the weather, and of course what was about to happen. Everyone agreed, we were at the start of something amazing.

runners to outrun diabetesThe energy level was high.  There were many people of varying fitness levels and ages  ­waiting to start the run.  They would accompany Sebastien for at least the first mile.  Sebastien was busy doing an interview when I first arrived but soon joined the crowd. There were pictures of the pilot truck.  There were pictures with Sebastien.  There were pictures of the group.  Finally, he prepared to start.

The air no longer seemed cold. Sebastien thanked everyone for coming out.  The grin on his face had not left. The incredible energy and hope on Signal Hill that day was tangible.  It was the most incredible thing that I had ever been a part of. Together we began to count down to the start of this epic journey.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…and they were off.  A group of runners, walkers, younger and older, pumpers, people on needles and people without diabetes.  It was powerful group.  I continued to click and watch. There was the police escort, the front jogger, Sebastien and friends, followed by the pilot truck.  As the entourage made its way down the hill, the chill returned and I headed back to my car.  I had been part of history.
.outrun diabetes start