Obvious

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Obvious

The tabby cat in the picture is Oscar. Yes, he is wearing a cast. He broke his leg in our basement shortly after we moved in to our new home last June. How? We have no clue. Young Oscar just wanted to be cuddled & cared for by our 12 year old Midge. How did Midge sense that Oscar needed some down time & snuggling to heal? Who knows. BUT…it is obvious to anyone looking at the picture that there is a cat with a cast. Something is wrong with him. Shortly after this photo op the cast fell off. For the cost of re-casting & the misery we caused him by doing so we decided to let him heal without it. He limped & hobbled around for several weeks, obvious he still had something painfully wrong with his leg. It was difficult to watch. Today you can not tell he broke his leg just a year ago. Does it hurt him still? Does it ache? Maybe. But as cats do, unless it is serious they can’t, won’t or don’t have the ability to communicate that. They act like all is normal. They keep to themselves & prove they can rebound from the impossible.

I hear time & time again the frustrations of people living with diabetes. Where is the cast, the seizure, the wheelchair, the appearance that tells those around them they have a chronic condition that somedays can make them feel like they’ve been hit by a bus? Aside from having a hypoglycemic seizure what are the obvious signs that one living with diabetes has had a series of highs or lows that have left them feeling like they want to be cuddled & cared for until they feel better? Words can only express the experiences one has. How can bystanders relate?

The frustration for many is to call into work or not go to school because they had 2 low BG’s in the night, woke up really high in the morning & just want to nap a few more hours to get the sugar back on track & clear the cobwebs out of their head. This is near impossible if one wants to continue to be a productive member of society….which is the expectation…because diabetes is not obvious. To the contrary, many living with diabetes attempt to hide it from others, compounding the exhaustion of managing it & recovering from the times of variability that come with it.

There are pros & cons living with a ‘not so obvious’ disease.

We hear about the cons all too much. Let’s focus on the good. Consider anyone living with diabetes that are in the spotlight & those that achieve many feats but have not gained the recognition. Examples which I encourage you to Google & research…Team Novo Nordisk (a team of cyclists competing in various events), Chris Jarvis (Olympic Rower & founder of iChallenge), Sebastien Sasseville (1st Canadian with T1 diabetes to summit Mount Everest, completed the Ultra Marathon Sahara race & 5 IronMan races to date), Chloe Steep (Founder of Connected In Motion), Steve Richert (Founder of Living Vertical), Kerri Morone Sparling (Six Until Me), Shawn Shepheard (Sugar Free Shawn), George Canyon (Country Music Artist), pilots, doctors, nurses, pro sport & not so pro athletes, trades, heavy equipment operators…these are just a few. There are so many it would seem like you are reading the Census in the book of Numbers in the Bible….but far more exciting!!

By living with a ‘not so obvious’ disease, people with diabetes accept that because we appear as ‘normal’ we want to supersede normal, we want to communicate that despite living with a not so obvious chronic condition we can & will accomplish whatever is put before us. We want to prove we are different in a good yet obvious way. Sometimes to the point of achieving near superhuman achievements.

Is that a good thing? I have heard time and time again from many..”I am thankful for my diabetes because I am healthier living with diabetes then if I didn’t.”

Many living with diabetes see themselves as healthier as those who don’t because they become more aware & pro-active in their health. Initially one with diabetes becomes healthier & begin to set goals beyond what they knew existed by no choice of their own but ultimately by the drive, strength & tenacity that become product as a result of the benefits they experience by living that way.

There is an obvious that surfaces by living with diabetes. That is the incredible accomplishments & outcomes that result in living with the not so obvious.

How to Prove You’re Cool with Diabetes

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How to Prove You're Cool with Diabetes

“Did you make any friends?”

After the first day of Kindergarten or starting a new school there are many questions to ask. The answers are usually pretty straight forward. Kids usually come home from school telling of events that occurred with their friends. Some days it is┬áthe story of “So and so is not my friend anymore, they did this to me…” or “Look at the picture so and so made for me.” or “So and so gave me their cookies and I traded them my chocolate milk.”

Children are compassionate and caring. They are resilient. Children are honest but also cruel.

As a Mom, I was witness to a mob mentality with a group of Grade 4 boys.

As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, after speaking with the children in Kurtis’ class, it seemed some of the kids would play with him. He now had a small group of friends. Once they knew they couldn’t get diabetes by touching him, they were okay with playing with him.

In October of his Grade 4 year I started Kurtis on an insulin pump. Thankfully his teacher was incredible. She was a classmate of mine from primary and high school. She was very proactive in Kurtis’ care and the learning curve associated with learning how to pump. At that time I worked part-time in the hospital as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit. The teacher knew she could call me at work or home for questions or concerns. The calls initially were frequent.

Upon starting Kurtis on his pump, I opted to start him on an angled teflon infusion set. I tried a straight-in set but they kept bending causing sudden, extreme highs. I felt the angled set would give us more consistent results. The introducer needle was large enough, depending on where it was inserted, it could be quite uncomfortable. I put EMLA cream on his site one hour before inserting so he wasn’t feeling the discomfort. It worked beautifully.

One afternoon I received a call from his teacher. She sounded excited. She wanted to tell me that Kurtis’ infusion set had ripped out during recess. She was so proud of him. There was no EMLA cream in his kit. Kurtis decided he would insert the Silhouette without it. Mrs. Sperry was awesome. Instead of sending him down to the office or nursing station to change it, she would over see the change. The class was curious to watch.

At this point, the ‘cool’ boys were not as interested in playing with him. This bothered Kurtis. He wanted to play the sport games they played at recess. He didn’t want to just walk around the yard, he wanted to be active. I told him although I understood his need. I also encouraged him to start his own games in the yard, but he wanted to play with the athletic, cool boys.

During the phone call I was told that the kids were so impressed with what Kurtis had done. They talked about it all afternoon. Kurtis had put a really big needle in his stomach. He was SO brave.

Not one Certificate of Achievement could ever make Kurtis feel as proud and accomplished as that day. Days and weeks later, the Grade 4 ‘cool’ boys began to invite him to play at recess. The icing on the cake for Kurtis.

As a parent I had mixed feelings. To me it was a form of intimidation. A child having to go through a form of initiation to be friends with children so he could gain the acceptance and confidence he needed to feel good at school. I understand this happens with all children to some degree, with or without diabetes. I have seen it in a milder form with my daughter.

I had to accept that this was part of learning and life with diabetes. Since those days of Grade 3 and 4, I have hoped and prayed that Kurtis would learn that he should never have to prove himself to anyone because he lives with diabetes. It’s hard to convey that to a child, especially when they feel isolated from their peers because of it. As with many things our children experience, we can teach and guide them, but sometimes they just have to touch the stove to understand it’s hot.

Tomorrow my blog will be on the situations and concerns about Kurtis’ safety with his diabetes at school.