Dblogweek 2017 – More Than Diabetes

Lets wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with.  Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can.   Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!  

When I’m not dealing with diabetes care, fighting with insurance for diabetes supplies and worrying about diabetes in one way or another I’m a mother of 3 amazing kids. I love watching my kids play sports. No matter the sport or how great they are, I enjoy watching them because they are doing their best and they are having fun.

I enjoy doing crafts of all kinds.  My grandmother taught me to sew when I was younger. I taught myself to crochet and I’m trying to figure out how to knit. Beads, weaving, paints, etc. it’s all fun to play with and create.

I love animals and nature. We have a lot of pets. Lovebirds, cats, fish, turtles, bearded dragon, and a dog. It makes my house a zoo. If I could, I’d have a pet cow. I love cows. They are so amazing and beautiful.

I have multiple feeders outside for different birds. I enjoy watching the birds visit the feeders.  I’ve had hummingbirds visit my yard for about 6 years now. This year was the first year I’ve ever seen a piliated woodpecker. I had Baltimore Orioles visit my yard this spring for the first time.

I enjoy gardening. Flowers and vegetables, I just don’t have the time to be able to maintain a vegetable garden anymore.

I have an open door. Anyone is welcome.

Dblogweek – What Brings Me Down

May is mental health month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

Depression, anxiety, burnout, panic attacks, eating disorders. These are just some of the mental health issues that a person with diabetes can deal with at some point.

I’ve watched my uncle, my brothers and my daughter struggle with multiple mental health issues over the years. I watched my uncle struggle with depression that he treated with alcohol for years. My uncle died from complications of his diabetes in 1999.

One of my brothers is so burned out with his diabetes that he doesn’t always check his blood sugars or take his insulin regularly.  He’s been hospitalized many times for DKA. He calls me and asks me for help with his diabetes a lot. He already has complications from his diabetes. Watching him not take proper care of himself and his diabetes scares me. A lot. It has for years. But like they say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. It has to be his choice. I do hope that one day he truly takes things seriously and gets better control of his diabetes.

My other brother also struggled with depression and turned to alcohol. He didn’t do such a stellar job taking care of himself either for a while and also has some complications from his diabetes. He’s doing a lot better taking care of himself and his diabetes now. He tries to keep tight control of his numbers.

My daughter has gone through episodes of depression, anxiety, and burnout many times. She often gets upset about having diabetes, counting carbohydrates, checking her blood sugar, doing pump site changes  (or insulin injections), or cgm changes. She often gets upset, cries and questions why it had to be her that “got diabetes”. During this time, the only thing I can do as her parent is listen and console her.  My daughter sees a therapist to help her deal with her feelings. She’s learning of ways to cope with her anxiety and depression. I hope that she learns the right methods now so she doesn’t rely on alcohol or drugs later in life. She also loves going to diabetes camp. Her home away from home. The place where she feels normal because everyone is like her. She’s made a ton of friends that she can talk with about different problems.

I often find myself feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted and burned out from dealing with diabetes.  Watching those I know and love deal with this chronic illness each and everyday can take its toll. The alarms from pumps and cgms haunt my thoughts and even my dreams. Some days and nights are better than others. Many nights I’ve dreamed of diabetes and its complications. After one of these dreams, I wake in panic mode and often have a bad day dealing with anxiety.

I have some amazing friends that I’ve met through the DOC that are around to listen when I’ve hit a rough patch. People that have either been there as a PWD or as a parent of a child with diabetes. A few of these online DOC’ers I’ve met in person and I’ve become great friends with and I know that they’ve got my back if I need them, just like I’ve got theirs. My family and friends outside of the DOC are also there to listen when problems arise. I know that I’m never truly alone, even though sometimes I feel like I am. So thank you for sticking by my side, through it all. <3

 

Dblogweek – The Blame Game

Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another. And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault. Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger. Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had. Now, the game part. Let’s turn this around. If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself? Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us.

This is not a blame game post. There is already so much of the blame game concerning diabetes. T1’s blame T2’s for the bad rap that they get. Type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease,  type two diabetes is genetic and lifestyle.

In this world, of rollercoaster highs and lows, we should support one another instead of blaming and tearing one another apart. Neither type of diabetes is better or worse than the other.  Both have complications.

So next time you encounter the blame game, maybe you can john the conversation and stand  up for another person with diabetes. After all,  we are in this thing together. <3

Dblogweek 2017 – The Cost of a Chronic Illness

Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly.  Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage.  So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?

The cost of diabetes care is so much more than just insulin, needles and other supplies. So many people are ignorant misinformed to a person with diabetes uses for their care.

To keep a person with diabetes alive, one must also be able to afford food. Not just for meals, but also for treating low blood sugars. Without fast acting carbohydrates to help bring a low blood sugar up,  a person with diabetes would die. We always have a stash of juice boxes, fruit snacks, glucose tabs, or some sort of fast acting carbohydrate. We make sure that my daughter has some in her backpack, in her care bag, in the nurses office, and even in some of her class rooms.

Many people with diabetes develop other health issues and auto immune diseases. A few examples are Hashimotos and Celiac. Depression and anxiety. Eating disorders. Taking more medications is never fun.  Being diagnosed with yet another problem can be devastating. We have learned that having someone to talk to is important when you have so much going on in your life. It’s okay to seek guidance.

A person with diabetes sees their doctor, for their diabetes, every 3 months. That doesn’t count the times they see the doctor for being sick, regular well checks,  etc.  A person with diabetes is more likely to get sick because of having a compromised immune system. So they are more likely to see the doctor for illnesses.

When a person thinks of the cost of diabetes care, one doesn’t think about all the extras.

Dblogweek 2017 – Diabetes and the Unexpected

Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens?  Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?

 

I thought about this topic most of the day. What part of our life with diabetes should I share? For all the unexpected challenges – new restaurants, new foods, new activities, new basal rates, new I:C ratios – anything that comes up we do the best we can at the time. Then we watch and correct as necessary. Whether it’s with insulin or glucose. Over the past several years, the most important thing I’ve learned is that most errors can be fixed. I’ve also learned that patience is very important when waiting for blood sugars to come back up or down. Stacking insulin and overloading on carbohydrates because of not being patient leads to causing a rollercoaster of blood sugars. Staying calm is always a plus, but it’s easier said than done.

The best things that have happened to our family since my daughter was diagnosed is meeting so many amazing people. People that understand, that have been there, that are willing to help and listen and loan supplies when they are dealing with financial and insurance issues. We have met some of the best people because of my daughter’s diagnosis. People that I’m glad to call part of our big d family.

 

Memories

This month marks 8 years since diagnosis. It’s hard to remember life before diagnosis.

What isn’t hard to remember is her diagnosis story. That day and night are etched into my mind. The memories of the triage nurse trelling me that there was no reason for a urinalysis when I requested it, the doctor asking me if I knew what diabetes was and informing me that she had a lot of glucose spilling into her urine, ride in the ambulance for 1.5 hours, the paramedic who gave her a stuffed animal on the way to Children’s Hospital, the multiple times they tried to start an iv and failed, the lack of sleep I had that night because nurses were constantly in to check her, the education mandatory education classes for newly diagnosed patients and family, the pain & heartache of staying at the hospital with one very sick child and leaving the other two, and so much more.
Those are the memories I have from 8 years ago. I don’t remember much of life without needles, blood and carbs.

Halloween then and now

Six years ago, as we prepared for Halloween, Little Miss was 6 years old, and we had no idea of the war that raged inside her body. She dressed as a clown, went out, and had fun, without a care in the world.

Halloween marks the beginning of her diabetes “anniversary”, and this year marks the point of diabetes having been with her for half of her life. From now on, she will have lived longer with diabetes than without. This year, however, has been an eerie reminder of the season six years ago. Halloween fell on a Friday again for the first time in six years, her diagnosis date will fall on a Sunday again, and Thanksgiving marks the day she came home from the hospital, and we started a new chapter in her life.

Fast forward six years. This Halloween, we have to carry around a bunch of diabetes supplies, and we have to think about how active she will be, and how many carbs are in the candy she eats. Her favorite saying has become this: “Diabetes can’t and won’t stop me from doing the things I love.”

She still wants to dress like a clown though, and she still has fun on Halloween. Some times, a lot can change in six years. Some times, hardly anything changes at all.

Missing!

Today we lost a member of our family. This member joined us November 2008. He’s always been with us. Tagging along, everywhere. A little brother. An annoying little brother. One you wish would never had come along, that didn’t have to tag along. He was a vampire, a blood sucker. A glucose meter. He never had a name.

While we were hiking for 2.5 hours, he let go and wandered away. We looked after we realized he was missing. But alas, we couldn’t find him. We are thankful we had his younger sibling along to help once we realized he was missing.

 His twin, out in three open for all to see.

His twin, out in the open for all to see.

 His twin, in disguise.
His twin, in disguise.

Have you seen him laying around? We were grateful for the years he was with us. Through the highs and lows life threw our way.  He will be missed, greatly. Thanks for your time!

Farewell glucose meter!

 

DBlogWeek Day 7: My Favorite Things

As I thought about this topic today while we walked our second JDRF walk this year, I had Julie Andrews singing in my head about a few of her favorite things:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Silver white winters that melt into springs

These are a few of my favorite things

When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Watching these little ones perform at the end of the JDRF walk today was priceless. They made the crowd smile.

Watching these little ones perform at the end of the JDRF walk today was priceless. They made the crowd smile.

As you can tell, a lot of music seems to pop into my head, a lot! Diabetes isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen, but it’s far from my favorite. This topic is supposed to be about looking back at the week of blogging, and what the favorite part of the week was.

One of my favorite memories of this past week is that I actually completed the full week of blogging! I tried for the first time last year, and I failed at doing it every day. It takes a lot of commitment to blog everyday about a predetermined topic. I am proud of myself for doing it this year! And I look forward to next year.

Another of my favorite things about this past week is having a new person comment not once but twice on a blog. My favorite being the comment on Day 4. I never really expected people other than family and friends to actually read the blog. So it is really cool that someone new has decided to read and comment. Thank you Kelley for stopping by and showing some love to a new blogger. You made me smile and you made my week!

 

DBlogWeek Day 6: Saturday Snapshots

Diabetes is a roller coaster ride, with an unwilling rider.

Diabetes is a roller coaster ride, with an unwilling rider.

 

Just one of the many times a day that I check my blood sugar. I check my blood sugar 10+ times a day.

Just one of the many times a day that I check my blood sugar. I check my blood sugar 10+ times a day.

 

 

If my pancreas worked properly, I wouldn't need help to know when my blood sugar is low.

If my pancreas worked properly, I wouldn’t need help to know when my blood sugar is low.

I don't always wear a knight's helmet when I fight my battles, but sometimes I feel that I should. I am always at battle with diabetes. Trying to control something that doesn't want to be controlled.

I don’t always wear a knights’ helmet when I fight my battles, but sometimes I feel I should. I am always at battle with diabetes. Trying to control something that doesn’t want to be controlled.

 

If only I could be like Dorothy and click my heels together and say "there's no place like home" and be free from diabetes.

If only I could be like Dorothy and click my heels together and say “there’s no place like home” and be free from diabetes.