I’m OKAY!! Really!?

Wedding Cruise5With the exception of the time we dated in high school, my husband Steve is diagnosed with Type 1 spousal diabetes for just under four years.

It may seem silly but I assumed in all this time he knew diabetes like I did.  I can’t even tell you why I thought he would learn 39 years of living with Type 1 diabetes as I have experienced by observing signs, symptoms and random sharing of how I feel in certain situations.  He has never had formal education in the less than 4 years we have been together.

The moment I understood I need to share my life with diabetes more?

We arrived in Lima, Peru.

After settling on the last leg of our journey we decide to head out in search of a few markets and sites for some art pieces.

On the way back, my pump alarms that my sensor is telling me my blood sugars is 4 mmol/L.  My sugar is going down.  Stupidly, I have no sugar on me…Steve is so good he usually does have lifesavers in his pocket…but he has none.

I feel it is lower than 4 mmol/L.  But I am stubborn.  Steve asks if I want him to go into a store and get sugar.  I say it’s OK .

First, when my sugar trends towards low but I feel like I am not in danger, I don’t treat with rapid acting sugar, I set a temporary basal rate.  I think it’s a control thing.  I want to change the stupid system that really works…just to see if I can make it better.  I am so anti-sugar….I really want to take it…mental block.

So…I say to Steve, it’s okay, I’ll set a temp rate.

And we keep walking.

And several minutes later I become dull.  And quiet.  I lack my bubbly, sunshine Type A personality.

Steve knows but doesn’t know.  He hasn’t experienced such an extreme moment like this.

I personify strength.  Knowledge.  Power.  Ability.  I am never the victim.  He trusts that. Even thought his gut tells him different.

DBB Hypo Peru

So he trusts me and my choice.

Until I mumble I want ice cream.  And he asks further questions.  And I am indecisive and vague.

We end up in a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel.  He asks me several times what I want to get….I don’t know.  In my mind I want to ask him to help me.  Save me from this terrible prison in my mind of wanting to be in control.  Not to ask for help.  I will take care of myself.  I won’t confess I have failed.  I won’t ask.  I refuse.  I won’t.  I have done this since I was a little girl.  My (mis)behaviour trumps my voice.

I am no good to anyone.  I know it.  I am too far gone to say that.

Steve finally suggests and I agree.

We pay out at the cash and I inhale.

Many minutes later Tracy returns.

Later that night we debrief.  He tells me…”I knew, but I didn’t because you know!”, but I did.  And I failed to tell him.  Thankfully he saw it today. Exactly what I just described.

He tells me “…from now when when you say “It’s okay, I’ll set a temporary basal rate.”  I am going to pop into a store and buy some candies.”

And he will tell me.  “You need this candies”.  And I now I will take them.  Regardless of how bad I want to be in control.  Because, we have this consensual contract.

It’s good to share my diabetes.  A liberation.  Enlightening.  It is a relief to give a very small piece of it to someone else.  Even though it is only a very small piece of what my mind thinks of 24-7-365, if feels good. Despite how much control I want.  And how hard it is to let go.

Travelling with My Pharmacy

DBB Huchay Cusco Blog

There will a few posts/Blogs about my travels to and within Peru.

BUT..

I feel this post in particular is a huge one and is pressing upon me to prioritize even though it’s not in order.

We spent Christmas Eve in Agues Calientes. We planned to climb Machu Picchu Christmas Day.

I became very ill with a very high fever and ultimately sinus congestion, sore throat, fatigue among other things.

I am proud of the way the situation turned out as I recovered very quickly compared to most times I experience this. My husband questioned if I should take part in the venture to Machu Picchu but I insisted despite feeling down and out I would not miss such an amazing opportunity. This is a chance in a lifetime!!! And so we did.

With that being said, after we returned to Cusco a few days later we made plans to take part in a two day trek up the Andes mountains, through the Peruvian Tundra. We would then be hosted by a family overnight before descending back down the next day to another town a few hours away from our starting point.

We reach an elevation of 15,100 feet. Understanding that breathing would be a challenge at the best of times, I am overly concerned that with my congestion and swollen throat it would present greater issues.

On our way to the drop off point 1 1/2 hours away by jeep, I ask our guide to stop at a pharmacy to buy cold medication to help keep the symptoms from being too overwhelming throughout the climb.

As I walk into the pharmacy I take note this is the very first lesson I learn.  Never assume I can go away for 2 weeks and be healthy the whole time. I usually pack cold medications, gravol etc for those ‘just in case’ moments.

This is the first time I didn’t take my personal pharmacy with me. Sigh.

Our guide Henry takes me into the pharmacy in Cusco. I tell Henry in English that I need an anti-histamine/anti-inflammatory. I expect something along the lines of Advil Sinus & Cold or Buckley’s.

After the Pharmacist asks Henry a few more questions in Spanish….”Is it altitude sickness?”…”No, I had a very high fever, sore throat and sinus congestion.”…He recommends a product.

I take a ticket to the cash booth/dispensary at the front of the store. She gives me the box of medication. I am so relieved I will have the meds to help with the congestion, I don’t consider that I didn’t tell the pharmacist I have T1 diabetes OR that I took time to read the ingredients.   At this point I don’t make the connection that Dexametasona (in English “Dexamethasone”) is a steroid!!! I mean, come on, I am a Nurse. I should know the 5 R’s!!

AND I can’t buy a steroid over the counter in Canada! For good reason!

I am told to take one pill now (it is 7:30am) and again at supper. I can take it twice a day for a few days.

Within an hour I can feel the relief. I am overjoyed….until…

Fast forward to that evening and into the overnight…AND the next day…my blood sugars begin to climb…and climb…and climb.

I take insulin corrections like drinking water with no change. Not even a flicker in my Continuous Glucose monitor display. My finger pokes confirm all is not right within my diabetes world.

I reflect back on when we arrived in Cusco. Within a day I was setting temporary basal rates on my insulin pump for low blood sugars and now??? I am insulin resistant in the Andes Mountains??

I play scenarios in my mind. Is it the altitude? Is it dehydration? Is it the anaerobic feedback from the intense activity which leads us to experiencing burning leg muscles, shortness of breathe so bad our lungs are burning?

When I work out at the gym and do intense heavy weights my sugars spike. When I do hill training when I run I get the same effect. Is this the same?

At this point I haven’t made the connection yet that the cold meds contain steroids.

I do think that in part, the intensity of the climb did cause an adrenalin surge that did cause my need for more insulin….pair it with an exogenous steroid in my cold meds and here is a recipe for blood sugar disaster.

My key take away?

Bring my own cold meds and pharmacy.

If ever in an emergency that I require medications while in another country, make sure to tell them I have diabetes.

If and when I decide to ascend to 15,100 feet (or higher), take note and act that if it feels anaerobic, increase my insulin rates to accommodate to it.

No doubt it is a tough balance to achieve but I wouldn’t want to throw my hands in the air and not keep playing the game. Next time I want to improve on this experience. I accept my sugars will never be perfect in these situations especially, but, I will do my best.DBB Dexalor

A New Year, A Lifetime of Change

January 1, 2011 was the beginning of a New Year.  I did not realize that my ‘year’ would last three.

Today is January 1, 2014.  It is traditionally the beginning of a New Year.

Thoughts, discussions, intentions and commitments for change shared. Summaries spoken and written of the year gone by.  Sentiments of regret and thankfulness for the past year or for the start of a new one expressed.

The thought of taking one year out of my life, summarizing it as a huge event and determining what the sentiments of regrets and/or what I am thankful for seems like such a small measurement of time in the 44 years I have been on this earth.  My ‘year’ is defined as a stage as opposed to a calendar year.

My last ‘year’ began in 2011.  Many events and themes which I did not want and which I thought would never happen occurred.  These events and themes have been on the front lines of my life since 2011.

My Mom and Dad gave me this coffee cup for Christmas.  When I opened it I fell in love.  It will be my ‘go to’ cup for my new ‘year’ because since I was a little girl it is who I am.

In my ‘year’ I have experienced death of a marriage, loss of a six figure income job, multiple, costly court hearings, moving 3 times, unemployed with no income for 2 years, major illness, major surgery, a sick parent, new love, the purchase of 3 houses, selling 2 houses, new job, managing a rental property, becoming engaged, living with my fiancé, moving my daughter twice back and forth to Toronto, my daughter living out of province in a remote area that provided little communication for 8 months, my son’s up’s and down’s as 20 year olds do, ‘adopting’ another son, on-line harassment for the past 2 years by my fiancé’s ex, commuting 2 hours a day, acquiring a puppy and a 4-year-old kennel dog and finally, living with Type 1 diabetes for 38 years and being a Mom of a young adult living with Type 1 diabetes.

In my ‘year’ I cried, I cursed, I have been so angry and so sad that I said things to people I didn’t mean and regret.  I made decisions that I regret.  I beat myself up daily and wish I could say and do differently in certain situations.

Why do I write this and open myself to you?  I do believe that I need to share my experiences to help others.  I have decided this is the end of this ‘year’ of events.  I want to move on.  It’s time for a new stage in my life.

Even though I feel it is time to start a new year and celebrate this, based on the events and experiences of the past 3 years I have learned some very important lessons.

1.  Change is inevitable.  Despite posts and quotes online about the fact one CAN control their life and think themselves into the perfect life, I don’t.  I can plan all I want but my plans are not God’s.  That is different then having a cup half full attitude.

2.  Acceptance creates change.  Acceptance of what I can’t control allows for freedom to focus on what’s important and what I can change.

3.  Let go, selectively.  In my life, I have experienced 3 lives.  My childhood, my first marriage with my children as a family and my current life with my fiancé Steve and blended family.  Advice is abounding, telling us that if one doesn’t let go of the past and move forward then one will never grow.  I refuse to ‘forget’ my past and ‘move forward’.  If I did that I would be letting go of the experiences my children and I have had that are important to us, good and bad.  My past has made me and my children who we are today.  When I dwell on a moment and it creates an emotion, I have learned that it is time to decide why I am dwelling on it.  What is the lesson?  How can I use that moment for my present life?  I believe past and present are a marriage which promotes personal growth.

4.  Always know there is a Plan B.  I am a dreamer.  Dreams come true.  Dreams stay dreams.  When the dreams don’t come true, know there is another way or leave it as a dream.  Not all dreams come true.

5.  It is okay not to be spontaneous.  Spontaneity is fun and I will always be a spontaneous person.  BUT, I have learned that when I really think I have a brilliant idea I want to carry out NOW, it’s time to step back and give it 48 hours.  I have a team of people I trust that I consult with.  I get their thoughts which gives me a different perspective which allows me to make the right choice.

6.  Be thankful everyday.  After I think of all the people and ‘things’ in my life, I imagine all of those that are less fortunate than me.  Those that are lonely, abused, destitute, unloved, sick, dying and sad. I have met those living in such circumstances and they are thankful for what they have.  They have a ‘cup half full’ attitude.  I ask myself, what reason do I have to think my life is anything less than abundantly blessed?  What reason do I have to express less than a ‘cup half full’ attitude?

7.  Act on it.  What I have learned in my past ‘year’ is by delaying action on deadlines not only causes inconveniences for others but consequences for many levels of mine and my loved ones life.  I have learned in this ‘year’ that the stress I have caused over the years by choosing to delay the demands of life has been far more painful than acting on it right away.

8.  Move.  From 1992 to 2011 I have taken very good care of my body by moving.  Through various sports and activities I kept myself well and in good shape.  In this ‘year’ I have put that on hold.  I conjured up many excuses as to why it was okay not to keep the commitments I made to my body.  I am only blessed with one body.  I may think it feels good to sit around and relax after all of the stress is laid before me instead of moving but after a few years my body has sent me a very different message.  I am re-learning that if I move my face glows, I sleep better, my muscles ache from stressing them from movement, they become stronger, my thoughts flow easier, my mood is brighter, my motivations increases.

9.  Try to keep it simple.  Living in this day in age is so complex. I’m learning in this ‘year’ it’s okay to let go of what isn’t important.  It’s okay to do nothing.  It’s okay to not always be thinking about something.  It’s okay to turn off the radio in the car and have it silent.  It’s okay not to worry.

10.  Love.  Don’t let past experiences stop you from falling (in love) again.  It feels so good AND yes it hurts sometimes.  And some loves that are no longer will cause sadness to the end of time OR until you cross paths again.  Don’t hold grudges over past loves unless you are committed to change it, they don’t know you are.  It only takes up space in your mind and robs your energy.

11.  Own a hairy or furry pet that is not nocturnal.  I have always had dogs and cats in my life.  In February 2011 I had to leave my dog behind but took mine and my children’s 3 cats.  I thought that would be enough.  It was not the case.  In October 2012 we brought 8 week old Samson into our lives.  In May 2013 4 1/2 year old Belle became the newest addition to our Samoyed husky family.  With 4 cats & 2 dogs our home can be a hairy circus but the personalities and activities that entertain us every day keeps us laughing and counters the work involved.  I can feel the stress leave my body as I see their excited faces looking for me as I ascend the steps to enter through the door returning home.  As I walk into the house and see their ‘smiles’ I feel an overflow of joy swell up within me by their unconditional greetings.  As I pet or hug one of our pups any stress I have experienced melts.

This is my ‘year’ in summary.  These are the lessons I have learned.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.  I open my arms to the events that will unfold and the lessons that will be re-enforced as well as the new ones I will learn.

Happy New Year and Cheers to you and yours, Tracy

Change or Transition?

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Change or Transition?

The words spill across the physicians desk or the hospital bed “You have diabetes.” or harder yet “Your child has diabetes.” Your head spins trying to absorb what that means. Depending on what your knowledge or experiences are, thoughts, emotions and response after this moment can vary dramatically. What you do know is that from that moment on your life has changed forever. Forever. Changed. Where do you go from here?

At this point I challenge you to substitute the word change for transition. Change is defined as an act or process through which something becomes different. Yes, this is true when receiving the diagnosis of diabetes. Something has become different. Transition is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Do you see the difference between change and transition?

The picture you see is of the Peterborough Liftlock. It was recently taken on a beautiful Fall day on one of our weekend walks. Wikipedia provides a great summary of the greatness of this world renown landmark.

“The Peterborough Lift Lock is a boat lift located on the Trent Canal in the city of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, and is Lock 21 on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
The dual lifts are the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world, with a lift of 19.8 m (65 ft). This was a considerable accomplishment at the time when conventional locks usually only had a 2 m (7 ft) rise. It is not the highest boat lift of any type in the world today: the lift at Strépy-Thieu in Belgium has a greater capacity (1,350 tonnes) and height difference (73.15 m)…Many local residents of Peterborough skate on the canal below the lift lock in the winter.
The Peterborough Lift Lock was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1979,[1][2] and was named an Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1987.[3]”

Picture yourself sitting in a boat on the canal at the top of this lock. You will have to trust me at this point but the view from the top is amazing. Add the transition of colour on the leaves on the trees. It is breathtaking. I say the leaves are transitioning because we know that eventually those leaves will fall off and the tree will become bare. The tree is on a journey with an evolving objective. At this point it’s goal is to shed its existing facade so it can rest for the winter to produce buds and beautiful bright green leaves in the Spring.

Back to the locks…It is understood when you approach the lock that eventually you will transition to the water below and your journey will continue on. Whether you have a plan as to where you to go from that point can amplify the quality of the experience when you arrive at the bottom of the lock. Most would agree that a plan needs to be made in order for the next phase of the journey to be enjoyable and memorable. Without a plan to transition to the next location, all could be lost stressing out on what to do next rather then taking pleasure in the journey.

To be successful living with diabetes one must not be satisfied with just accepting change but beginning the transition to living a life in a different state. There are many steps to achieving this, a plan is essential. If these steps are taken and transition is accepted, not just the understanding and acceptance of change, you can live a full and productive life with diabetes. I encourage you to always plan and be secure in your journey knowing you are transitioning to the next destination in your life with diabetes.

You Can Get Diabetes By Touching Someone

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DBB FB Blog Catch Diabetes Touching

Our family moved in 2001. As a result of the move the kids transferred to a new school. Kurtis was living with diabetes for just under one year. In his previous school the acceptance & understanding of staff & children with his diabetes was great.

Within weeks of his new adventures of being a 3rd Grader in his new school, Kurtis informs me he can’t make friends. “Why?”, I ask. “They point at me and laugh. The kids are telling other kids if they touch me they will get diabetes.”

Within days I receive a phone call from his teacher. She asks if I will come in & speak with the class. She tells me the same story Kurtis has just days before. She wants the class to learn about diabetes.  She is concerned that the misinformation being discussed among his peers will lead to long-term issues.  She is concerned for Kurtis’ well being.   Ms. Maker explains she feels I will make an impact because I live with diabetes as well. They will see me as a Mom who is a nurse, I have friends & I have a daughter that doesn’t have diabetes. I agree & start planning how I will speak to the children about this.

The main myth to displace was reassuring them that Kurtis didn’t get his diabetes from touching me.   My plan was to think like a 7 & 8-year-old.

Word for word I can’t tell you what I said or how I said it.  It was a little less than 12 years ago.  I do remember sitting in a chair with the kids sitting on the floor around me.  They had a lot of questions.  I kept it simple.  Kurtis was pleased & so proud his Mom went in to talk with the kids about his diabetes.  It helped with them being more social with him.  He was not gawked at as much.  But making friends continued to be an issue until Grade 5.

Look for my Blog tomorrow on what happened that caused the children to respect Kurtis and his diabetes.

 

 

Saying No.

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Saying No.

How can one word cause so much stress?

Is it the concern of being selfish? Is it the fear that we are not allowing ourselves the opportunity to have new experiences and challenges? Is it the fear of believing there is no one else that can do what you’ve been asked to do? Are we afraid to disappoint? Do we need to prove a point to ourselves or others? Are we afraid of conflict and burning bridges?

In this day and age the pressure we are living under to perform, accept, accomplish, respond to, access and be accountable for is too much, not just as adults but teens and young children are being subjected to this prematurely. Our private lives are jeopardized by the creation of global urbanization and technology with the expectation to keep up at all costs.

Yes is stress. But saying no is too. How do we find balance?

Take a look at how stress can influence our health:

1. Stress hormones raise blood sugars
2. Stress contributes to insulin resistance
3. Stress leads to weight gain
4. Stress can increase blood pressure
5. Stress can suppress the immune system
6. Stress can worsen or create allergies
7. Stress can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke
8. Stress can impair fertility
9. Stress can accelerate the aging process
10. Stress can create psychological imbalances such as anxiety and depression
11. Stress can cause or enhance addictive behaviours such as drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise etc.

Here are some guidelines to assist in determining when it is right to say “No’ and find or keep your balance.

1. When you have a bad feeling and your gut says “this doesn’t feel right”…trust it!!! Be true to yourself!
2. Thinking about saying “Yes” to the request causes you to feel overwhelmed before you have even committed to it.
3. Your principles, ethics and/or beliefs are in jeopardy.
4. The financial expense doesn’t fit your budget.
5. It is not fulfilling the goals and objectives you have set for yourself.

It’s OKAY to say “No”. Words and body language are our most powerful ally. How you respond will empower you and the person who has asked.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey

Keeping it Even

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Keeping it Even

As a parent do you worry about how being fair with your children?

What parent has not heard these phrases ring in their ears, “It’s not fair” or “You love him/her more than me” or “But you let/paid for/told/ agreed that ________________could so why can’t I?”.

It is difficult to learn what is ‘fair’ or how to keep it ‘even’, for that matter, if we should.

Not only am I speaking of rules, decisions, result, how many gifts, how much to spend for Christmas, Birthdays and the multitude of special events throughout the year, failing or passing grades. I think of all these things that I am mentioning and I will say that quality time is the one that is and has been a concern for me.

Why?

The attention required in a family with a child living with Type 1 diabetes is quite demanding. Add to that, the attempt to keep the balance ‘normal’ with their siblings.

I have written a few Blogs about my son Kurtis given that Diabetes Beyond Borders intention is to write about life living with diabetes.

Pictured in this blog is my 21-year-old daughter Cayla at her graduation from Sound Engineering. She has also lived with diabetes. Her life involves looking in from the outside and living with the demands it has on our family.

Cayla is the first person that will email me a link to pictures, articles and studies related to Type 1 diabetes. She has been an impetus for some of the writings I have posted.

I have felt guilt over the years as she saw her brother unresponsive and rushed to the hospital by ambulance from a severe low. She has watched her Mom being carried out of the bedroom with a severe low on the morning of her 5th Birthday. She could write a book of all the events she has experienced living with diabetes. Events and situations I hoped I could protect her from but eventually accepted I could not. She has been a part of it all as much as her brother and I have.

I tried my best to protect her. Give her what she required as a child living with her Mom and brother having diabetes. I tried to keep it even when it came to parenting despite it all. Upon reflection, I don’t think it was the balance I realistically dreamed achieving but I think I did okay.

In the past two summers Cayla has experienced episodes of low blood sugars. It concerns me. During one event, by the time I was able to test her, she was 3.2 mmol/L. She had just eaten. That worries me.

With that being said, all we can do is wait and watch. She is well-educated to the signs and symptoms of the onset of diabetes. She is miles away from me in Northern British Columbia now, but I am confident in the facts with her experiences so far and her education, that she is aware, intuitive and pro active in whatever comes her way. I am happy for her that she can take a break from living with diabetes. I pray that she continues to have that.

I am a Mom living with diabetes, I have 2 children that live with diabetes as well.