10 Things to do When Life with Diabetes Becomes Too Much

stress

We know that diabetes is stressful and can be overwhelming at times. The day in and day out grind of carb counting, injecting insulin, and checking on blood sugar levels can wear a person down. That is why it is so important to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Here are a few things that myself and others have done over the years.

Cry, scream or yell in the shower

cry

Whether you are the person living with diabetes or you are helping someone you love, there are those days when you have had it. You want to kick and scream. You just don’t want to “diabetes” anymore.

Guess what? That is okay! In fact, it is pretty darn healthy! It isn’t healthy to keep those feelings and frustrations bottled up, however.

When you are completely overwhelmed and want to throw in the towel…do it! Find a private spot, like the shower, and just let out all of that pent up emotion. Allow yourself to cry. Go ahead and scream at the universe. Yell at diabetes itself. Simply vent and then…let go. I promise you that while it won’t fix everything, you will feel a little better.

Go for a walk

walk

We all know that we are supposed to exercise. Did you also know that it really can be good for your mental health?

Take some time to join a gym, sign up for a yoga class or just take the dog for a walk. Do something to get moving and get out of your head for a bit. Shake off the cobwebs as you stretch or lift. Allow all of that stress to hit the pavement as you go for a walk. Taking in some fresh air and taking some time for you will help you to improve your overall health.

Go out on a date

date

Go out for a lunch date with a friend. Meet your significant other for a lovely meal. Take one of your children out for a playdate that involves just the two of you. Simply get out and put diabetes on the backburner.

If you are living with diabetes, you will sadly still have to bring it along but, for just an hour, make it sit at another table. Don’t complain about it. Don’t worry about it. Just focus on the person you are with and leave the rest behind for 20 minutes, an hour, whatever you can spare. Recharge yourself with someone you care about.

Grab a glass of wine

At the end of the day, allow yourself to unwind with a glass of wine, a shot of rum or simply a great cup of tea. If you enjoy essential oils, make sure you have your favourite blend diffusing. Light a candle. Just breathe and relax. Let your mind go blank for a bit and simply unwind. It is okay. You need it. You deserve it.

Enjoy a book

Take a few minutes to unwind with a good book. Put on a Netflix show. Turn on your favourite music and let it flow through you. Dance a little if you like or allow the music to put you to sleep! Do something that requires minimal thought and maximum relaxation.

Live life 4 hours at a time

4 hours

This is advice that truly kept me sane through toddlerhood, preteen years and the teens. Live life 4 hours at a time.

When living with diabetes, there can be highs and lows that appear out of nowhere. There can be highs and lows that show up because you got a bit of air in your tubing, you injected into a different site, or you counted the carbs in a meal wrong. There are more reasons for highs and lows than the average person can imagine. Obsessing over them can drive you completely insane.

My advice is simply to deal with them in short blocks. Rapid-acting insulin has a life of 4 hours (on average). Take your day and break it up into those four-hour sections. When you get up and check your blood sugar, that is the start of your first four hours. If that reading is perfect, do a happy dance and get some breakfast. Savor the victory over the diabetes gods.

If you find that you are running a bit high or low, you treat with food or insulin and move forward. By lunch time, you will either have everything under control or you won’t but that is a four hour time period that is behind you. It is something to look at later and see what you could have done differently. It is not something to dwell on. You have another 4 hours to deal with.

In those next four hours, you can celebrate in range readings. You can ponder out of range numbers but know that there will be another four hours for you to look at and you will get through.

Give diabetes away for the day

share

Seriously, give diabetes away for the day. Have someone else think about the blood checks and carb counting. Take the day off.

If you are a parent of a child with diabetes, have your partner or a family member do your child’s care for the day. Remember that they will do things differently. That is okay. As long as your child is okay and you can rest, it will be okay.

If you have diabetes yourself, ask your partner, good friend or even parent to deal with everything for a day. Okay, maybe you won’t be able to handle an entire day but let them scan your sensor. Have them push the buttons on your pump. Let someone else do your site change. Give your brain a break for an hour, an afternoon, a full day if you can!

Join a support group

No matter what, there is nothing like talking to people who get it. If you are on Facebook, join one of the many online groups that are there. Most are private or secret so that what you say in the group will stay there.

If you are a Twitter person, look for the hashtag #DOC or #DSMA and join in diabetes chats. It is a great way to share and meet other people who live the same life as you.

Some people prefer to meet in real life. Check with your diabetes clinic for support groups or diabetes-related events in your area. There are many conferences and camps for both adults and youth that are worth checking out.

Journal

It can be very therapeutic to simply write out your feelings. Start a journal online or in your favourite notebook. Write about your victories and your frustrations. Get your feelings down on paper so that you can better handle them in your daily life.

Seek help

Finally, if you are still finding diabetes too much to handle, please look to finding the help of a professional. There are mentor programs for teens. You can connect with diabetes educators in other areas who will help you tackle getting blood sugars in a more manageable range. You can also connect with therapists who will assist you in person or via remote networks. Some of them like Virtue Bajurny and Joe Solowiejczyk are not only therapists but live with type 1 diabetes themselves.

No matter what you decide to do. Remember that you never have to do it alone. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone or contact us. We will try to help you to find someone in your area who may be able to help.

Because sometimes you have to laugh at life with diabetes

laugh at life with diabetes

Life with diabetes is stressful but often we can find humour in the most interesting places! Here a few things that have made us laugh at life with diabetes the years.

Who can forget this video….

Where is the strangest place you have ever found a test strip?

We all know that test strips are actually alive. They move on their own. They can be found in the most unique locations. Here are some of the interesting places that we have heard of.  These ones truly helped us to laugh at life with diabetes…a lot! Please feel free to share with us some of the strange places your test strips have ever been found because laughing at diabetes makes life a little easier.

test strip in coffee make us laugh at life with diabetes

Thanks to Michael for sharing!!

“Somehow, a One Touch Ultra strip ended up in my coffee cup at work this morning. No idea how it got there, but probably involved a morning blood test of 211 that caused me to cuss and toss my case across my desk. There must have been flailing test strips at hand, also. So, in the spirit, my Blood Meter decided to pose nearby the swimming test strip.”

Teresa I. found one in her daughter’s thick, curly hair after her daughter brushed it with a brush that was next to Teresa’s bed. The strip stayed in there through a full day of school!

Someone else found on that had been used as a bookmark in a school novel!

Test strips have also been found…

  • In the yard
  • Frozen in the ice
  • In a salad
  • In the washer and the dryer
  • Fishing tackle box
  • The teacher’s sweater pocket
  • On the back of the toilet tank
  • In a make up kit that was cleaned out on a weekly basis. How do they find their way to these places??
  • In a clean pair of underwear!

and of course…

laugh at life with diabetes test strip on the stove

On the stove!

Strange infusion set locations!

Not to be outdone, we have also found infusion set sites in some very odd places. We have found them in the tub, by the garbage, in the car and even the bottom of my Swifter vac! Always something new.

Fun Diabetes Songs and Poems

Here are some great diabetes poems and tunes that make us laugh at our life with diabetes and appreciate the creative people in our community!

Oh A1c song
Oh A1c

by Alissa

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, I raise my voice to heaven
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, in hopes it’s less than seven
The past three months we’ve had a slump
Despite corrections from the pump
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, just please don’t be eleven

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, we’ve tried to stay in range
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, so it seems very strange
That when I download from her Flash
I see the spikes and then the crash
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, you shall this Mom derange

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, I wake with such a fright
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, to my alarm’s delight
But one day when the Cure has come
I’ll beat that clock until it’s dumb
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, and sleep a silent night

Count the carbs song
Count the Carbs

by Alissa

Count the carbs with cups and scales
Fa la la la la la la la la
Guesstimate when all else fails
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hands and fists are quite a treasure
Fa la la la la la la la la
When without a one cup measure
Fa la la la la la la la la

Factored carbs are even greater
Fa la la la la la la la la
But require a calculator
Fa la la la la la la la la
Units you must designate
Fa la la la la la la la la
Don’t forget to tare the plate!
Fa la la la la la la la la

Candy canes are roughly twenty
Fa la la la la la la la la
You will have to fudge a-plenty
Fa la la la la la la la la
Guess them now and fix it after
Fa la la la la la la la la
Just correct and meet with laughter
Fa la la la la la la la la

I have a little meter
Meter (Dreidel)

By Barbie Paulsen

I have a little meter
I use it through the day,
When finger’s done with bleeding
Then dreidel I can play

Chorus:
Oh, meter, meter, meter
I use it every day
And when I’m done with testing
I throw used strips away (Hah!)

I have a little meter,
It counts down really fast
And keeps a steady record
Of when I tested last

–Chorus–

I have a little meter
I take it everywhere
But when I need to use it
Sometimes it isn’t there

no more lows song
No More Lows!

by Alissa

(to the tune of “Let It Snow!”)

Oh the numbers at night are frightful
And the meter now seems spiteful
I’m exhausted and I think it knows
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

All this sugar shoving has me praying
That those teeth are not decaying
How much longer is this going to go?
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

For a while things worked out right
Numbers were steady till dawn
But now it seems every night
I’m thinking about Glucagon!

Now I’m thinking it would be nifty
If we could see one-fifty
‘Cause the glucose tabs are running low
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

rufus the bear
Rufus the Type 1 Brown Bear

by Alissa and Samantha

Rufus the Type 1 Brown Bear
Had to always prick his toes
And if you checked his sugar
You might come to find he’s low

All of the other brown bears
Thought that Rufus had Type 2
So when they had some candy,
They would tell him, “Not for you!”

Then one day a CDE
Helped him to explain,
“I take insulin, you see,
Sugar is just fine for me!”

Then all the brown bears nodded
As they came and shook his hand
“Rufus we’re really sorry,
Now we finally understand!”

Test Strips

by Alissa

(to the tune of “Latkes”)

Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot of test strips
Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot! Of test strips

Test strips are so useful when they show me my bg
But they turn up later, reproducing magically!

Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot of test strips
Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little but a LOT!!

Fit with Diabetes eBook Review

Fit with Diabetes

Recently I was given the privilege of being asked to review Christel Oerum’s new fitness book.  I was both honoured and excited.  My son has been big into fitness since he was in his early teens.  The idea of learning a few tips from this fitness guru that I could share with him led me to open up the book soon after it landed in my inbox!

In keeping with the book‘s fitness theme, I read this book while on my treadmill.  It made me feel slightly better when I saw images of the toned and amazing Christel staring back at me.  I am nowhere near her fitness level but at least I was trying and her book tells you how to do just that…try…and succeed!

Christel offers amazing tips, tricks, and recipes that make you drool!  She shows you how to set achievable smart goals that lead you to your ultimate goal.  Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

From the very beginning, Christel offers great advice like looking at why you are excited about your goal.  She reminds you not to focus on what you don’t like. Don’t focus on being out of shape or carrying around that extra weight but rather how great you are going to feel instead!

Fit with Diabetes also offers valuable, usable tips for people no matter what their fitness level who may be struggling to manage their diabetes care. 

As I said, my son has been big into fitness for years.  There is a huge collection of dumbbells in his room.  He heads over to the gym whenever he can.  I was, therefore, taking a lot of notes when Christel discussed weight training and how different exercises impact blood glucose levels differently. My son had told me something similar.

He saw different bg levels after leg day versus when he had an ab day for example.  Christel tells you how to use this information to your advantage!

One of the things that amazed me the most and made me go “Of course!” was the idea of using the dawn phenomenon to your advantage.  She gives you an effective way to deal with morning spikes through exercise.  You really want to check this out!

As I said,  Fit with Diabetes can easily be your personal trainer if you are not in the position to invest in one just yet.  Christel shows you real examples of how people on pumps and injections are managing their diabetes care while exercising.  She shows you exercises that you can do at home or at a gym and how to put them together into your own personal fitness routine.

I was equally impressed by Christel’s no-nonsense approach to diet and exercise in general.  She never gives you a “diet” to stick to.  She offers suggestions on what a healthy meal should contain.  In Fit with Diabetes, Christel provides formulas and apps for you to use to create the menu plan that fits you! I am the world’s pickiest eater but after looking at some of Christel’s prepared meals, I was drooling!

Finally, Christel reminds us of the reality of weight loss.  Many of us, myself included, get hung up on the numbers. We want our scale to say this weight or that.  Christel promotes a healthy body weight and a positive self-image.  Muscle weighs more than fat.  You may be getting toned and building beautiful muscle without seeing the scale heading the way you expect…and that is okay!

I loved this book. It was easy to read.  The concepts are easy to follow.  I was however starkly reminded how different it is for me to jump on my treadmill with my perfectly functioning pancreas than it is for my son to do the same with his flaked out pancreas.

This book gave me a renewed respect for everyone who is living with diabetes and working to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It isn’t easy but Christel shows you that it is attainable with a little guidance and dedication!

To purchase your own copy of Christel Oerum’s Fit with Diabetes, you can go to her website at https://diabetesstrong.com/fit-with-diabetes/

Christel is a Los Angeles based blogger, certified personal trainer, and diabetes advocate. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and at an early stage decided that it wasn’t going to slow her down. Her motto is “There is Nothing You Can’t do With Diabetes”. She writes about how to be Fit With Diabetes on DiabetesStrong.com. She also coaches people with diabetes from across the globe, online and in person, and supports them in meeting their health and fitness goals.


Christel holds an MBA in Finance & Strategy and an ISSA Personal Trainer certification with specialization in Fitness and Diabetes (Level 3 certified from the Diabetes Motion Academy). You can find her on Facebook  @DiabetesStrong and Instagram @DiabetesStrong_IG /

You can learn about more diabetes-related books here

It’s okay to cry…or scream..or just take time for you

diabetes is hard

Diabetes is hard.  Whether you live with the disease or you are the parent of a child with diabetes, diabetes is hard! I know, I said it twice because it is true. It can be exhausting and overwhelming. There is never truly a time when you can relax and say “whatever will be will be.”

There are times when you want to relax. You want to throw in the towel.  There are times when you want to simply say “ENOUGH!!!” and hide under the covers for a the day.  I am here to tell you to do it! Seriously, take a minute or an hour or a day and just throw in the towel so that you can pick it up again with more strength than you had before.

It’s in your best interest and the interest of those you love to take time for you.  Take time to just let it all go.  Here are five easy ways to reset yourself so you can continue on your journey with diabetes.

1. Hideout in the shower

cry

The shower is an amazing place.  You can lock the door.  The water pouring over your body can be calming and soothing.  It washes away your tears gently and without judgement.  The sound of the running water also drowns out your anguish.

When things seem bad…When you are tired and just want a break… take 5 minutes and hang out in the shower.  Cry or vent.  No one needs to know. No one needs to see.  You can simply let out all of that pent up anxiety  and allow it to flow down the drain.

After you are finished crying and yelling, you can dry off and get on with your day!

2. Go for a walk

walk

Ideally, go for a walk by yourself but if you can’t take the kids and just go!  Power walk at first until you have spent all of that stress and tension out of your body.  Let all of your frustrations be released in your strides. Slowly let everything go until you can slow down and enjoy the scenery.  Breathe and just let it be.

Your heart will thank-you and so will your psyche.

3. Pass the buck

Alternate site testing

Whether you have diabetes or you are the caregiver, let someone else deal with things for an hour or a day.  Let them do the blood checking and the injecting. Give the meter or CGM receiver to a trusted companion or family member for a bit.  Allow them to deal with things in their own way.  Allow yourself to forget just for a bit.

It can be hard at first.  Diabetes is so all consuming but it can happen.  Don’t be concerned if the other person is  doing things differently than you would.  Let go.  As long as no one’s life is in danger…let it go.

I have done this for my son before.  There would be a day when I would do all of the testing, bolusing and carb counting. He would simply hand me a finger or his pump.  Diabetes was not something that he was going to actively concern himself with managing for that time period. He loved the break.

4. Enjoy a date night

have fun

If you are a parent of a child with diabetes, this is super important.  Make time for you and your partner.  If you are single, then make time for you and your close friends.  Take time once a week or at least once a month, to focus on relationships.  Leave diabetes in the hands of someone you can trust.  Do not spend all of your time looking at your phone or texting home.  Focus on enjoying yourself and recharging your batteries.

5. Meet up with other D-peeps

This one may seem a bit strange.  If you are overwhelmed by diabetes, why or why would I suggest that you hang out with other people who are just as stressed as you? Because they get it!

Seriously, meeting another person who lives with diabetes can be so liberating.  They truly do understand carb counting and pump problems.  They  are the ones who understand the A1c report card and so many other aspects of your life.

Go to conferences, events, or socials.  Talk to that co-worker who also has diabetes or that Facebook friend you met in a group.  Share with each other.  You won’t just talk about diabetes but they will understand that diabetes factors into so many other aspects of your life.

These are just a few things that can help to relieve some of the stress of living with diabetes.  There are many other things that you can do.  If you reach the point of feeling completely overwhelmed, please consider talking to your doctor or a therapist.  Diabetes is hard.  You need supports.  Make sure you find them and use them for the sake of you and all of those who care about you.

Diabetes is harder some days than others

This post was originally written in 2009.  My son now manages his own diabetes care.  He wakes for his lows.  He treats his highs but one thing remains the same–diabetes is hard no matter who is responsible for care for the daily tasks. 

bug on windshield from Diabetes Advocacy

“Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.” Today I am definitely feeling like the bug!

It was after midnight and of course I was dying to get to sleep. I had set my alarm for early the next morning.  It would be my son’s last day of school.

I found a meter and a strip. I grabbed a lancet, waded through all of the junk that the boys had left on the stairs rather than putting away. Off I headed to test my son’s blood sugar level. I hope it would be the last check for a few hours. One check and I could sleep!

We had been out for pizza earlier that day to celebrate good grades so I was certain that my youngest son would still be high. He had been  16 mmol (288mg/dl) earlier in the evening, so you know I was certain that I was going to be able to rest.

Wrong! Diabetes doesn’t work that way.

I took the meter. I lanced his finger. A pool of blood was created. The strip refused to suck.

What the???? Okay, I cleaned the finger. I got more blood. I tried again. The glucometer just barely accepted the blood. I waited for the reading…E5. It was an error reading!!

There hadn’t been enough blood to get a blood sugar reading. Oh the lovely four letter words that were on the tip of my tongue as I headed back downstairs to get more test strips and another glucometer.

I found a new meter. I was certain that this one had to be better than the last. A new test strip was in my hand. The same lancing device was being used. Back up the stairs I went.  This time I grumbled and picked up items as I went by.

Once again, I lanced my son’s finger. Again, I got a large amount of blood. The strip sucked the blood this time! I walked towards the stairs not even considering having to correct a high blood glucose reading. That was a good thing because he didn’t need insulin.  He was 3.2 (57).

He was low!

I uttered a few more choice words as I shuffled off to get some juice. I filled a glass, found a straw and trudged up the stairs for a third time in less than five minutes.

My son wasn’t keen on drinking. I continued to cajole him until he finally began to sip. Thankfully he drank it all except the last few drops. Those were sucked up into the straw and somehow flew all over his pillow.  I was not happy.  There was now strawberry juice all over a cream pillowcase.  I cleaned it off as best as I could.

I waited.

Fifteen minutes can become a lifetime when you are dying for sleep. These are the moments when you just think to yourself…diabetes is hard.  Why us?

Eventually, it was time to recheck.  He was  5.5 (99) and I was finally off to bed for two hours before it would be time to check his blood sugar again.

Diabetes is hard.  Diabetes care is a challenge.  Some days things seem okay…and other days you feel like you are a bug squished against a windshield.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by diabetes, join our online group and share your feelings with others who live with diabetes too.

Fiasp Insulin. The New Kid on the Block

Fiasp Insulin the new kid on the block

It has been a long time since the diabetes world has seen a new rapid-acting insulin brought to market.  The last one that I can remember was  Apidra released back in 2004.  It is not surprising then that the release of Fiasp by NovoNordisk is creating a lot of buzz.

Not to be left out, my son recently began using this insulin. Since Fiasp insulin is the new kid on the block, I thought I would give everyone a brief rundown on the highs and lows associated with it.

What is Fiasp?

Fiasp insulin was released by NovoNordisk onto the Canadian market in March of 2017.  Many of us scrambled to get a prescription because it promised better blood glucose levels without pre-bolusing for meals! According to the press release, you can dose up to two minutes before a meal and up to 20 minutes after starting a meal without compromising overall glycemic control or safety!*

How is it different?

A Medscape article states that  Fiasp is absorbed twice as fast as its counterparts. It does this with the help of  two excipients–Vitamin B3 is responsible for the increase in the speed of absorption and Amino Acid (L-Arginine)  has been added for extra stability.**

But what do Fiasp users think?

All of this science is great but most people are wondering how well it works in real life settings.  From what I have seen, the bulk of users really like it.  I could only find one person out of about a dozen users who had returned to their old insulin aspart.

When I asked my son for his review I was told “I still have highs. I still have lows BUT if I have a heavy carb  loaded meal, Fiasp kicks butt and I don’t have the same crazy swings that I always did before.” For a 19-year-old who can definitely binge on carbs, this is huge.

Other users seem to have had similar results.

Some people with diabetes found that the insulin peaks were no longer as pronounced.  They had some difficulty battling highs with Fiasp however while others found it perfect for corrections. In fact, some people are purchasing Fiasp just for corrections.

Other users explained that faster insulin action allowed them to more quickly respond to rising blood glucose levels.  This, in turn, meant resulted in much tighter control.  The quick action has also left one user to caution about the timing of any pre-bolus.

Most seemed to agree that Fiasp insulin resulted in fewer food spikes and more stable blood glucose levels but as I said not everyone loves it.  For some users, their traditional rapid-acting insulin seemed to work better.

Final thoughts…

All in all, most people with diabetes who are trying the new kid on the block seem to be happy with it.  It offers another insulin choice for those who struggled with post-meal spikes or don’t pre-bolus meals.

It must also be noted however that while Fiasp is not currently approved for use in insulin pumps in Canada, both those on insulin pumps and MDI are using this insulin aspart.

I was also happy to see that the price of Fiasp insulin was par with NovoRapid. This meant that there was no need to worry about an increased cost for out of pocket insulin expenses.  My understanding is that Fiasp insulin is not yet on many (or any) provincial formularies.  This most likely will mean that if you decide to use the insulin and are currently using a publicly funded program, you may have to either pay for this insulin out of pocket or speak to your doctor about having special authorization added to your benefits to ensure full coverage.

Please remember to check with your diabetes team before starting any new insulin regimen. 

You can read about all of the types of insulin available in Canada here.

I don’t have diabetes but diabetes can still bring me down.

tired thanks to diabetes Diabetes Advocacy

Diabetes is exhausting.  The emotional toll of check, calculate, bolus and more is incredible.

I am lucky.  I don’t have diabetes, but diabetes can still bring me down.  Because I don’t have diabetes, when it does tend to be too much I can step away. I can put it on the back burner and regroup before I dive in again. I wish everyone with diabetes had it that easy.

For years I was my son’s external pancreas.  It was exhausting.  I never slept more than four hours at a time.  If I woke up during the night, I checked his blood glucose levels.  We had no Continuous Glucose Monitor.  We just had me. It was my job to make sure that he was in range.  I was the one to calculate carbs, adjust insulin ratios and log blood glucose readings.

My son tested and learned alongside of me but I carried the bulk of the burden…until he turned 16.  At 16, he decided that he could handle it all.  He carried the entire burden for the next three years unless he was visiting me.  When he was with me, I took over as much as he wanted.

Taking over wasn’t the same as doing it 24/7.  That being said, being an external pancreas also wasn’t the same as being the one to experience the highs, lows and pokes with needles multiple times per day.  Not being able to “fix it” or take it away could (can) bring me down as much as the pressure of daily diabetes care.

I  still wish that I could take the pain away. I wish that my son would know a different life.  There isn’t a day that I don’t ache for the families and other people living with diabetes knowing that they can never stop testing or injecting.  Their very lives depended on it.

Knowing that fact can also cause sadness. I ache for families that struggle to keep their children safe in school. I get frustrated for those individuals who are fighting to receive insulin at a fair and decent price. My heart breaks for those who are having a hard time paying for their supplies and who can’t afford the best in diabetes care.

I don’t have diabetes.  Diabetes can bring me down but I won’t let it keep me down.  Each day I wake ready to work a little harder.  Each day I will share what has worked for us and hope to inspire and assist others living with diabetes.  I will continue to work with individuals and groups to create better care for people with diabetes regardless of education or income level.  Diabetes can bring me down but it will not win. My battle won’t end until a cure is found. Don’t give up either. We are here for you!

Talk to more people living with diabetes and advocating for a better life in our online Facebook community.

A step in his socks…dealing with a gluten intolerance

gluten-free-baking1-e1449977998432

I know it’s not the same. I can’t begin to say that I fully get it. I cannot say that I am walking in his shoes so I will just say that I feel like I may have taken a step in my son’s socks.

Over the past year, I feel like I have had a very small glimpse into some of the emotions that my son and others living with diabetes must experience. The stress, worry, isolation and anxiety every time that they go to the refrigerator or someone offers them a meal. I can see where it becomes overwhelming and you want to forget all about this new way of living for a bit.  This is why…

Last New Years I was given the “gift” of a gluten intolerance. If I eat gluten I get physically ill. This came seemingly out of nowhere.  I told my doctor that I was too old for this to happen to.  She just laughed at me and told me to live with it.

It turns out that “living with it” is not as easy as one thinks.  I now have to watch every single food item that I put in my mouth.  (Hmmm, sound familiar?) I have to read every label (Yes, I should be used to this but now I am looking for elusive sources of gluten instead of carbs).   Suddenly I have had to relearn how to prepare food (and cooking used to be a joy!)

Going to a restaurant is no longer a source of relaxation.  With gluten intolerance, I have to be on alert when we go out.  I don’t have to guesstimate carbs, I now have to guess if there is gluten in my desired meal. The result is that there are often restaurants that I simply cannot eat in. Emotionally it can be overwhelming and depressing….why can’t I be “normal again” runs constantly through my mind.

There are times that I feel perfect…usually when I have successfully avoided gluten for a number of days.  Those are the days that I stop thinking about gluten. I don’t pay as much attention to the labels.  I begin to think that “maybe its really not an issue.”  I get sloppy.  I end up eating something that I shouldn’t.  I feel like crap.  I kick myself and then I think…”Is this what my son does? Does he feel okay and somehow forget that he needs insulin?  Does he just go about his day and not worry about a test because–well heck he feels great!?”

Did my lecturing just compound the issue? I don’t need someone telling me “Well Barb, you know that you shouldn’t have tried that chocolate without reading the label”.  I know these things but sometimes I just get complacent.  I just don’t want to think about it…and then I pay dearly for my lapse in judgment. I am very sick for days.  I then become more vigilant after my slips.

I have good days.  I will have bad days. No amount of saying “I am too old for this” will change it. I have come to realize that this is now part of me.

It’s not the same as living with diabetes.  I don’t have to check my blood or lance myself. There is no insulin pump attached to me.  I don’t have to worry about balancing insulin and food. I won’t pass out from too much gluten.

In some ways it is similar though….I have to read every label.  I am not counting carbs but I do search for things like wheat, malt vinegar and “may contain gluten”.  I feel overwhelmed when I try to bake. None of my recipes work anymore.  They all have to altered again…before it was to accurately count the carbs, now its to carefully substitute out all wheat.

I feel stressed when I step inside a restaurant. I must ask every server if they have a gluten-free menu option.  I still worry.  What if they make a mistake? What if they give me the real pasta? What if they don’t realize and give me a sauce with gluten in it? What if I order the wrong thing? (and I have)  When it goes right, I feel the same glee as I do when my son and I guess the correct carb counts in a restaurant.

As I said, it has been a year.  Some things are getting better.  I have an incredible network of friends who have already been down this road.  (There is an increased risk of celiac disease if you also have Type 1 diabetes) There are great Facebook groups and many more options in the grocery store.  I have a cousin who is an amazing Gluten Free baker.  They all provide tips and support.

This year has allowed me to look at things just a little differently.   I have lived with diabetes in the house for close to 17 years.  I know the terror of nights. I know the frustration of unexplained highs and lows. I am all too familiar with the stress as diabetes interrupts planned activities. Gluten issues don’t come with those stressors but they do have plenty of their own.

Gluten intolerance has allowed me to glimpse at what its like to always have to be aware around food. It has given me a new understanding about feeling good and “forgetting” about your condition.

I hate both conditions.  My son hopes he never has to live this way. I do too but I also wish he wasn’t living with Type 1 diabetes.  The only bright side to my gluten issue is that it has given me a small glimpse into some of what he has gone through on a daily basis for most of his life.

Download the signs of diabetes here.

Four Hours, Just Four Hours

Diabetes Blog Week

Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we’ve done that and we can help others do it too? (Thanks to Meri of Our Diabetic Life for suggesting this topic.)

My diabetes mantra

4 hours at a time Diabetes Advocacy

Is there a mantra that I fall back on to get me through a hard diabetes day? Absolutely! It is one that I share with newly diagnosed adults and parents who are struggling to get through. I remind them to look at life in four-hour blocks. If you take everything in four-hour strides, you can ride through anything.

Breakdown your day into bite-sized pieces

When diabetes seems to be kicking your butt every morning, look at how things are going between lunch and supper. Are things okay? Give yourself a mental high-five and celebrate that victory rather than dwelling on the post-breakfast spike that this threatening to drive you over the edge.

Do overnights seem overwhelming? Again, break it down.  How are things from snack until 12 or 1am? What is life like in the deepest part of the night? Are things settled before breakfast or has chaos been awakened in those four hours? If you break it down into six four-hour periods, life becomes a bit more manageable and instead of seeing all of the bad, you can savor some of the good.

Why four hours?

Why do I have a four-hour mantra? Because early on I learned that my son’s Humalog was supposed to last about 4 hours.  He was injected at 8am for breakfast, then at noon for lunch, around 5pm for supper and then again at 9pm for his nighttime snack. 

I was going crazy trying to see a perfect 24 hour day. I realized that looking at a complete day was never going to make me happy. The only way to see success was to look at small chunks of time.  Coincidentally, that was also how we would make changes to his regimen. 

Was his breakfast ratio of carbs to insulin off? How about at bedtime? Life was naturally being broken down into 4-hour chunks for me so why not work with that?

Now I know some of you will say, but we are using an insulin pump so that won’t work for me.  Yes it will!  Chances are high that you are still doing things like having breakfast, lunch and supper.  I am quite certain that you are going to bed at one point as well. All of these events can be broken down and again my four-hour mantra applied. 

Was I a successful pancreas this afternoon? Yes? AWESOME!! Let’s break out the happy dance!!! Did I have an issue after supper? Okay, let’s look at what can be done.

via GIPHY

Life is less overwhelming in four-hour shots. It can be applied it outside of diabetes as well.  Are you wanting to change your eating habits? Did you have a great breakfast? Pat yourself on the back. Over did it at lunch? Do better tomorrow. Can you see how easily this works?

Life can be overwhelming.  As we discussed yesterday, life with diabetes can make it worse.  Taking life four hours at a time has allowed me to focus on what I need to change and to praise myself when I get it right…and we all need a lot more praise in our lives.

Make your day a little easier with a 4 hours at a time download.

Diabetes And Exercise–What I learned last week

In the past few months my son has really gotten into body building.  I am not talking on the competitive Mr. Universe scale of things, but simply getting fit, building muscles and looking “buff”.  He was following the George St. Pierre workouts and is currently working out to the “Body Beast“. I am excited to see him taking an interest in his health.  I am impressed to see the muscle tone and the dedication that he is giving these efforts but it is also presenting new challenges to us–how to manage diabetes and exercise!

I was therefore overjoyed when I saw a poster from my Animas rep stating that she would be bringing two people into our area to speak on just that topic! I was dying for my son to actually attend and learn himself.  He was equally sure that I could go and bring him home the Coles Notes version!  In the end, he won with the valid excuse of having to study for final exams.

To night they have two of the best US motivational speakers were Sebastien Sasseville and Heather Buckle. Both of these people are extremely athletic and living with Type 1 diabetes.  You may know Sebastien from his mountain climbing expedition to the top of Mount Everest, his recent run across the Sahara, or perhaps his many IronMan races. In his motivational talk incorporated how important his diagnosis of diabetes has been in his personal growth as well as to his development as an athlete.

He explained how vital it was to have dreams and actually work towards them! With or without diabetes, it is important that we refuse to be still and we continue to evolve at all times. He refers to diabetes as a houseguest that is now your roommate and you must learn to live with him/her in order to get the most out of your life.  He reminded his audience living with diabetes that it is not about the A1c, its about the journey to get there.  As a personal life coach, it was great to hear him reiterate some of the same things that I had recently talked about in my “Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer” session!

Sebastien also spoke a bit about his control and how he handled his diabetes care. I was surprised (although I should have intuitively known this) that the same exercise at different times of the day has to be handle in different ways.  This was important to bring home to my son who may workout at 8pm on a weeknight but 2pm on a weekend.  I worried about it but more in the terms of “let’s make sure he is not low during the night” and that is where it ended. This was a great talking point to use when I got home.

Heather continued the discussion on how to handle exercise and diabetes care by giving some great information on physiology.  She has been living with diabetes for 27 years and is an athlete as well as a physiotherapist and Certified Diabetes Educator.  She offered tips that my son and I had not even considered!

She noted that basal rates should be dropped by even a small bit up to two hours BEFORE exercise, the importance of eating within 15 minutes of exercise, and keeping an exercise diary.  She is the first person to show me real guidelines for when you can and cannot exercise when dealing with a high blood glucose level.  Its a question that parents often ask me when writing up plans for school–when is my child too high to participate in gym class? It turns out that the magic number–with or without ketones, is 17mmol (306mgdl).  Even without the presence of ketones, after 17, you will go higher with exercise! Fabulous to know for real world application!

Heather also showed us scenarios of why you may go higher after prolonged exercise even it you managed to stay in range for the entire period of exercise as well as how to fix this!  She talked about supplements, as well as the effect of temperature on insulin absorption.  Another light bulb moment for many people is when she discussed using multiple basal rates for one exercise! If you were doing an activity that required various levels of intensity, use various temporary basal rates.  This made many audience members go “Of course!” A final tidbit to remember–injuries will raise blood glucose levels. Duh! but still how often do we really think about it?

There was a lot more that both Heather and Sebastien had to say but those were some of the key points that were important for us.  Exercise is vital and as important as insulin when living with diabetes.  Attitude is everything–diabetes is not going away anytime soon so make it a positive part of your life!  Enjoy taking care of yourself. Enjoy being active and be the very best that you can be. Great messages from wonderful people!

exercise and diabetes animas