Sunday, July 24, 2011

Yes, she can eat that. Can you?

Just a quickie post to echo the frustration from many in the diabetic community with the continuing misconception that people with type 1 diabetes have to "diet".

A nutritious diet is important for everyone. We all need to eat well, combining whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, proteins and calcium. If you eat nothing BUT ice cream, your health is going to be a wreck - whether you're diabetic or not.
Sarah's diet, and the diet of type 1 diabetics in general, is NO DIFFERENT FROM ANYONE ELSE'S!

Sarah is not on a DIET.

Sarah has diabetes, and that means that her body doesn't produce the insulin it needs to convert the glucose in foods into energy and stored glucagon. So, when she eats, she just needs to manually replace that missed insulin. It's basically as simple as that! Sure, some foods affect her blood sugar levels more than others. Sure, sometimes we have to get pretty creative in delivering her insulin. Sure, if her blood sugar goes too high or too low she can get sick or need medical assistance. But the only reason this is necessary is because her body isn't taking care of the problem, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot replace the body's natural process.

And just to make the point. The very worst things that could happen to someone with type 1 diabetes, a severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or a severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) could just as easily happen if she eats a bowlful of fruit, carrots, or pasta than if she eats a bowl of ice cream.

Are ice cream, cookies, cakes, and other goodies difficult to deal with? Sometimes. But not as difficult as breakfast cereal, or a banana. Fatty foods take longer to raise her blood sugar, which gives us more time to correct an impending high blood sugar. Whereas a large banana might raise her blood sugar much faster than the insulin she took can regulate it.

So I'd urge everyone, every single one of you who made it this far - share this information. Pass it on. Pass on what you know about type 1 diabetes. We will never stop the misconceptions if we don't band together and share the knowledge.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eagles and earthworms

Life is what you make it. I've thought about this a lot lately because in raising a child with diabetes, we both struggle with balance. It's hard. A big part of me doesn't want to let her out of my sight. But the more rational part of me knows that she needs independence to grow up mentally healthy and prepared to tackle life. And in order to be able to let her go, and leave her for hours at a time, she needs to be in control of her diabetes. And she is.

Diabetes is her opportunity to really show herself, and everyone else, what she's made of. And I'll tell you... she's made of some strong stuff. There's a huge mental component to dealing with diabetes because it doesn't rest and doesn't let you rest, or forget, or take a break. Not ever. Sarah must be prepared to deal with a diabetes related emergency on a moments notice. And... she has to be prepared to deal with that emergency without creating another emergency.

And I think I've figured out one of the reasons Sarah has been so successful.

She wants to be normal.

Seriously, even though that seems kind of backwards, it really isn't. Because in the end which option allows her to really be more "normal"?
  • She can choose to briefly ignore her diabetes by not testing, eating without insulin, and not listening to her body. This might allow her to feel normal, for a little while. But she's learned from hard experience (cough...pretzels....cough) that her blood sugar doesn't really need to climb very high before she begins to feel absolutely horrible. Anything over 250 for any period of time and she's a miserable wreck. 
  • She can choose to take the time to test, bolus correctly, and listen to her body when she feels off. She spends a small amount of time on diabetes, but in return is allowed to do everything she wants to do, without restriction. And not only that, she doesn't like the kind of attention that comes from being sick. She prefers people to recognize her for her sparkling personality. :-)

In the beginning I really was afraid to leave her side. I sat in the theater when she practiced. Every time. Even during three hour classes. But now, about 16 months later, I drop her off at the door, and head out to run errands or take a walk. Sarah has a bag which stays in the room with her. Her bag contains (I dumped it out and checked the contents this morning):

A cell phone
A meter, test strips, etc.
A single serving box of rice crispies cereal
Two single serving pouches of crackers
Pringles pizza sticks
Pirate booty
Assorted other goofy stuff that makes it into pre-teen bags...

So she's ready. If her blood sugar begins to go low, she has a variety of choices in single serving sizes. She can call me if she needs me - but she never has. In fact, in nearly a year and a half, I can't recall a single time she's had a serious low or high during theater, and it's only happened a couple of times in school.

I'm not going to say that there are no diabetes emergencies in her future, because there likely are. But I will say that by being vigilant, making good food choices, and being mentally ready for anything - I really think that she is doing everything she can to ensure she can live as healthy a life as anyone without diabetes - in fact, I'd guess she's healthier than a whole heck of a lot of kids her age.

And I think this attitude is applicable to life in general. I know people who allow all life's little issues to crush them.  And I know other people who stomp on those issues and move on with a smile.

My advice? Find your joy wherever you can. Don't dwell or focus on other people's drama. Life isn't meant to be a bed of roses. Everyone has challenges, strife, and difficult times. Some people rise to a challenge, and some dig a hole in the ground and bury themselves.

Where will you be? Will you soar with the eagles, or hide with the earthworms?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time to step back

Every once in awhile I stop and take a bit of time to think about how much our lives have changed over the last few years. So many changes!

It all started when my incredibly handsome son, Devon, announced to us shortly before his 18th birthday that he was joining the Marine Corps. That was a surprise, especially because Devon was not particularly fond of discipline, which I hear is kind of a big deal in the Corps. I was so proud of him that day. He'd actually taken the time to research it, and planned his approach to both his parents (who were very supportive) and his extended family (who mostly thought he was a bit nuts). But he told everyone in no uncertain terms that it was his choice and he was asking for their support, not their permission. He left for boot camp a boy, and I swear to you, he came back a man (or at least well on his way). And now you're married to beautiful, amazing Ashley. You are a lucky guy!

My oldest daughter, Amanda, graduated from high school shortly thereafter and began college. She has dreams and goals, and continuously works towards them. She loves to write, and is constantly working on a variety of stories and ideas. Amanda is a wonderful daughter, and over the last 2-3 years, has begun the shift from daughter to daughter and friend. I love spending time with her, and I can completely see us hanging out, going to chick flicks (our idea of a chick flick is Transformers), musicals, and just talking. And can I just say that she's also the best big sister on the planet, and has been a lifesaver over the last couple of years - always available to help with her younger sister.

And exactly 16 months ago, my youngest daughter began her biggest challenge when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10. Just so we're clear, type 1 diabetes does not define Sarah - at all. In fact, I am most proud of the fact that she has overcome so much and lives her life with the closest thing to normalcy possible. She's a busy kid. She spends 3+ days per week in theater practice, and another in voice lessons. She loves traveling, and board games, and basil quesadillas. She has a wicked fast sense of humor, is becoming fluent in sarcasm (kind of a requirement in this family), and has an absolutely beautiful singing voice that is improving all the time.

And last week when we were discussing managing her diabetes, she blew me away. We were talking about how important it is for her to be responsible, and vigilant - because she was preparing to spend the week at a school friend's house and art camp, where she'd be 99.9% responsible for her own care. I told her to try not to look at diabetes as a problem, but rather, as a challenge. And Sarah looked at me and said, in all seriousness, "Mommy, I don't look at it as a problem or a challenge. I look at diabetes as an opportunity." She went on to tell me how much it meant to her to help other kids with diabetes. She wants to be a good role model, and show other kids how they can live full, happy, healthy lives with diabetes.

Sarah my dear, I can only imagine the lives you will touch in your lifetime - but I know it will be many. Kids naturally seem to look up to you, and through your example, kids with diabetes will see that life is beautiful, because you make it so. I am so proud of you! You are an amazing inspiration to me and everyone who knows you.

And to my three children, I love you all more than life. I am incredibly proud of all three of you. Wow... I'm a seriously lucky mama!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Holy crap - when did THAT happen?!?

I am a pillar of calm, zenlike mom. I am not sappy, or dramatic, or weepy. I do not cry at movies, or weddings, or even funerals. I am the calm one. The one who doesn't fall apart and keeps a level head through every crisis.

Or, at least I was until this last week - when, HOLY CRAP, I cried! Twice! In one week!

Cry number one was a shocker. I've been talking about diabetes and often relaying Sarah's diagnosis story for over a year now. But put me in front of a whole group of executives from various organizations, and I go to pieces. I was relaying how she'd been sick. She'd gotten thinner. She'd felt like passing out. I told about how we took her to her pediatrician, who'd pronounced that she had a virus of some sort and could go back to school after a few blood tests.

But when I tried to explain my feeling as I answered my cell phone later that evening to find a very concerned pediatrician on the other end... When I told how she'd asked me how close we were to the nearest emergency room... I lost it, and fortunately Sarah was there to pick up the slack. - Afterwards I decided that my loss of composure was probably a good thing. Hopefully some of those folks felt, just for a moment, the terror of hearing your child has a serious illness, because we need their support to continue to fund diabetes research.

Cry number two was on the Fourth of July. Sarah decided she wanted to spend the night at her grandma's house, so she could continue to spend time with her amazing older cousin, Ashley. I let her go, with the condition that she not ingest any carbohydrates after dinner, as I didn't want her to have any meal insulin left in her system at bedtime, because I wouldn't be there to check her until the insulin passed through. They went to watch fireworks at her uncle's house. At some point in the evening, cupcakes were distributed. It was after 10pm, and Sarah had had a long day. She wanted a cupcake, and I had to say no. Her next texts to me broke my heart;

I wish I didn't have diabetes.
Why did it come for me?
It is so unfair!

She ended up coming home that night, mostly because she really needed some mama hugs.

But you know what? She's right! It's not fair. It's not fair that she has to watch every single thing she eats at 11 years old. It's not fair that she has to poke herself 6-10 times every day. It's completely not fair that I have to stick big needles in her 2-3 times a week to change her insulin pump site and CGM site. And on that note, it's not fair that she has more equipment on her belt than spiderman!

And yes, before anyone tells me so; life isn't fair. I know. I've used that line myself... a lot. I know I'm whining, and I know there are kids with much larger challenges. But this is MY kid, and HER challenges. And it's just not fair.

See, there I go again...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Does it mean I'm becoming a zombie if my brains are leaking out my orifices?

Wow, it's been a week. Of course when isn't it? Sunday always seems to turn into Monday, then Tuesday...

One of my methods of coping has always been to take the "problem" and deal with it as a "challenge". I dunno, it just sounds better. A problem is dealt with whereas a challenge is conquered. This was a week of challenges, triumphs, and moments where I just really wanted to blow a deafening raspberry.

We had a week of pretty awesome firsts actually. My oldest, Devon, is working on something very cool and top secret; my middle child, Amanda, started her first job this week; and my youngest, Sarah, had her first real public speaking opportunity.

Diabetes land offered some of this week's challenges, as I continue to fight with Kaiser to get a CGM, as summertime blood sugars are making Sarah's CGM look like a never-ending ride on the Giant Dipper, and as Sarah's nighttime basal (which cost many hours of sleep to get right) seems to have gone ca put - "Hello sleepless nights, I haven't really missed you!"

At home I'm generally feeling disorganized. I seriously want/need to have a garage sale, but can't find the motivation to organize the ridiculous amount of STUFF that I want to get rid of. If anyone out there is a spectacularly wonderful organizer, I will pay you to help me...

Other random notes from this week...

  1. Dishonesty doesn't pay, is really stupid, and doesn't end well - so just don't go there, k?
  2. If you think I talk about diabetes too much, please feel free to ignore me but before you do, consider reading this post and try putting yourself in my shoes for just a couple of minutes and ask yourself - If it was your baby, would you handle it differently?
  3. Friendship is where you find it; sometimes it's at home, at work, or inside your PC. Sometimes you have to be your own friend, and find a quiet moment to just zen out.
  4. If you sit under giant lights, you're going to be accosted by giant bugs. And when your child is a pre-teen, telling her that they're on their way to the Ugly Bug Ball just doesn't cut it anymore.
  5. I really like teenagers who can still have fun like kids.
  6. It's time to take a nap when you get all sappy and sentimental in a costume shop, start reminising with the woman who made from scratch your baby's first costume (red riding hood cape), only to find out that the cape that was so darn sweet on your baby is very popular with big girls who are trying to look sexy/sleazy. Ew...just ewwwwwwwwww.........

And now I'm hanging out at my PC rambling on waiting for IOB to come down to 0 so I can go to bed. I'll let you know if I start having a hankering for brains...

Oh, and if you made it all the way to the end of this, won't you consider leaving a comment to let me know what you think? I enjoy writing for myself, but it's pretty cool to hear what others think. Thanks!

In order to improve our ability to help keep Sarah safe, she will soon be getting a diabetes alert dog. If you are interested in helping Sarah with this, please visit her facebook page at or her website at