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

Being “Normal”

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What does every parent want when their child lives with Type 1 diabetes & it’s any special event whether it be Christmas, Hallowe’en, Birthday Parties or Easter? To portray it’s the one of the few times of their life they can enjoy what everyone else does. Well, sort of. But that’s the best we can offer, right? Do they remember or know any different? Kurtis never told me so. I don’t remember so.

From the ages of 8-11 I don’t remember what I did with Kurtis at Hallowe’en. That was the time when he took multiple daily injections. Life was a whirl wind. I worked shift work at the hospital. My whole life evolved around my children…I worked my job, my health, my diabetes…everything around the kids. I was a single parent a lot. I didn’t have a team mate I could pass the baton to & ask to take over. My focus consisted of; were the kids fed well, did they have lunches packed for school, were they doing well in school, were Kurtis’ blood sugars okay, what did I need to do make them ok, appointments for his diabetes, making sure Cayla didn’t feel like Kurtis was the centre of our family because of his diabetes, what did the kids have for homework, hockey, figure skating, testing Kurtis’ blood sugars day & night to keep him safe, setting my alarm to check him, arranging care for the kids for the few times I wasn’t there, making sure the people caring for him understood what to do with his diabetes…you get the whirl wind?

Do I remember what I did for Hallwe’en on injections? Vaguely. I know for a fact I would have kept his candy intake balanced so that his sugars weren’t crazy for days. I vaguely remember letting him pig out the night of after he returned from collecting his stash..to an extent. Then going forward matching meals with treats to keep it balanced.

Once Kurtis was on a pump, I was not so concerned. My mindset was eat it all sooner then later so that we have 1 week of craziness then 3-4 weeks of drawing it out & really messing things up. The bonus was he could put the carbs in his pump & burn it off with activity. I was lucky because Kurtis only liked certain candies. The rest he would never touch.

Christmas stockings & Easter hunts involved a lot of non-candy things from Wal-Mart & the dollar store. I kept it the same for both. The kids never said to me “where is my candy” or “why don’t get as much candy as the other kids”. I remember as a child living with Type 1 finding a brand new pair of running shoes (which I needed!) hidden for Easter! I was SO excited because they were the cool pair I wanted! You can’t substitute candy for something so wonderful as that!

Creativity & letting normalcy rule within the boundaries of keeping your child safe, is essential to an enjoyable, stress-free Hallowe’en.

Connecting the Dots

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Connecting the Dots

I notice the biggest challenge in diabetes management is testing blood sugars.

It is a nuisance, no doubt. We all claim we can tell what our sugars are by how we feel & for the most part I believe that. But similar to hunger not always being hunger but a symptom of something else, symptoms we typically feel with a low or high can be a result of another event in our body.

Remember when we were kids & we would pick our favourite colour crayon & connect the dots or complete a # to # pic? It was so cool to see what our efforts of connecting the dots or numbers created….the big picture. So it is with blood sugars.

Cravings

Want tips & tricks on eating well & losing weight? Here is Eden’s next Blog about her Journey. Eden is a busy woman!! She lives with Type 1, at the end of her years in University, about to graduate in May and working hard to lose weight & exercise so she is looking good for her height for graduation.

Help me support Eden in her goals as she moves closer to her goals!! Cheers, Tracy

“Hey Everyone!
Sorry my blogs have been so spaced out! Last week of classes so my blogs will be every other day lol Lots going on! So I thought I would share some of my favorite snacks that I tend to have during the evening. Sometimes in the evening is when I feel like eating the contents of my fridge ha ha! Before I started caring about my weight, I would typically not think twice about eating chips, cookies, 2 granola bars (sometimes more) and god knows what else! So it is hard to not want to eat at night, and I know if I don’t I will be hungry and probably have low blood sugars. So these are some of the things I now LOVE
1. One thing I always have is a drink of water, and a HUGE chai tea with one Truvia (or 2 splenda) and my almond milk. Almond milk takes a month or so to really get used to in beverages, but there is NO SUGAR and VERY LOW FAT! I LOVE IT!
2. Another thing I love having is almonds. I usually buy Blue Diamond Lime and Chili almonds, these are salted, but I only allow myself 11 at night if I choose this. If I choose this, I usually have 1 cup (usually 6) strawberries or a small apple with cinnamon baked for 1 minute in the microwave.
3. My Cheat Night Snacks: Ok so everyone has these, and if you were to tell me I would never have another chip or cookie again, I would die! So I figured out different ways to have things I love, but that are healthier for me. So tonight (for example) I had Special K cracker chips (they have sour cream and BBQ flavors) 18 cracker/chips are 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 14 carbs! Compared to regular chips which are ten times the amount of fat and calories!
For cookies, I make my own which take 20 minutes MAX! I usually put in a bowl 1 cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of egg whites, 1 or 2 splenda, and I use half a scoop of chocolate protein powder (I think cocoa would be fine) I mix it all up and bake them in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 (depending on your oven, keep an eye on them!) I also like adding some natural peanut butter on top for some extra flavor. If you mix it up, and it seems dry add some more egg whites and some water 
Hopefully you like some of my ideas! I always have a chai tea because of its health benefits and it makes you feel full ”

Link

Loss of Control – How Do We Regain It

I urge you to read the link I have attached.  Although it is from the Canadian Diabetes Association, I have read many links which involve Diabetes Associations that exist around the globe.  It seems on paper the protocol is in place if the school board or district is agreeable to implement & support.  Every parent past & present that has a child with Type 1 fight to keep their child safe at school.  The fact that our children are not viewed as ‘in need’ of special care in their daily management of diabetes at school is preposterous.  Every diabetes organization is posting guidelines & lobbying for change but it is happening too slow.  While school boards fight to keep their budgets or manage with less, our children living with diabetes’ risks of adverse events occurring is higher.

Examples to support the lack of guidelines & the situations Kurtis met as a result:

1.  In Grade 5 his class is in a portable.  Soon after the school year starts, Kurtis comes home to tell me during class that day he feels like he is having a low blood sugar.  He tells his teacher.  He tests & confirms.  The teacher sends him by himself out from the portable into the school to the office to get a juice box.  He tells me he is scared.  Two issues:  there are juice boxes in the classroom AND most important, she sends my scared son BY HIMSELF outside to enter the school & walk up a long hall & a set of stairs to treat himself for a low blood sugar.  What if he didn’t make it?

2.  In this same class, it is the middle of winter.  A similar event occurs.

3.  I discuss with the teacher the concern.  She explains she can not expect a student to go with him as they need to be in the class to learn.  She offers she can not leave the class to go with him & leave them on their own.

4.  I discuss my concerns with the principal.  She meets with the teacher & enforces a student needs to go with Kurtis when going to the office for a low…IF….there are NO juice boxes in the classroom.

5.  At one point, Kurtis has a severe low at school.  I meet with the principal & discuss options of having Glucagon for treatment if he becomes unable to take treatment orally.  She informs me the school board will not allow her or the staff to inject Glucagon.  I ask if children that have severe anaphylaxis to bee’s & peanuts have Epi-Pen’s at school?  She says “yes”.  I ask if the staff are allowed to inject the Epi-Pen if such an event occurs. She says “yes”.  I point out to her that both events need life saving injection of a drug.  She counters that she can call an ambulance with Kurtis & by the time they get to the school he will be okay.  I was furious.  How do you educate someone who is such an imbecile?  So stuck on the rules that they won’t consider a child’s life could be at jeopardy?

How did I deal with this?  I made myself on-call regardless whether I was sleeping from a night shift.  If I was working a 12-hour day, I was fortunate my parents were on stand-by.  I made it clear that the school was not to call 911 first (as the school was in the country), they call me.  I knew I could make it to the school quicker than the ambulance could.

Thankfully, with regards to his diabetes, nothing serious happened.

I am not sure how to make an impact to sway school boards to start a standardized protocol that allows for a budget for help in overseeing glucose testing, injecting & bolus of insulin, eating the correct food & bringing attention to the proper person the needs of a child with Type 1.  I do suggest lobbying & pressure by our local diabetes associations as well as supporting them in their campaign is instrumental.  Many voices are louder than one.  I urge you to take part.

Eden’s Worst Nightmare

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Eden's Worst Nightmare

Below is a mind-blowing 2 minute read.  Eden’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes came at the age of 17. After gaining a lot of weight & feeling she did not have the support from the health care profession she needed to empower herself, Eden set out on her own to learn & discover how to live life with diabetes beyond borders. Eden has a very busy life, finishing her degree at University as well as setting goals to manage her diabetes & lose weight in a healthy way before her graduation in May.

Support Eden as she moves forward daily in her journey to empower herself living with diabetes & successfully meet a weight that is healthy for her body. What she is achieving since being diagnosed 4 years ago is nothing short of amazing!

“Hey Everyone,
Sorry I was away since Thursday with the family for a weekend shopping trip! We had a lot of fun.

So I thought I would write on a mix of things today !

When I was away this weekend I tried to behave the best I could (even though some regular chocolate just happened to work its way in their LOL) I got some diabetic/sugarless candy from my family today ….I had chai tea candies…soooo good! Go to Bulkbarn and get some!

I thought I would share some more personal stuff, since I know everyone grapples with this when trying/thinking about losing weight.

One big deciding factor when trying to lose weight is …why are you losing weight? I do not know about you, but just saying “to be healthy and be slim” can be a very vague reason to start to lose weight….Plus this is a LONG term goal.

A HUGE recommendation I have is to sit down, with a pen and paper and write small term goals to lose weight. For example here are some of mine (some I have already accomplished, some I have not)

1. Be able to do the stair master for longer then 10 minutes (I can do 45 now!)
2. Test my blood sugar 4-5 times a day (I have been good on this lately)
3. Go to the gym 4-5 times a week (finally getting this habit)
4. Get to second goal weight 165 (I hope to be here around May 10th this year)
5. Drink 8 glasses of water a day (very hard to do ….lol and not much fun)
6. Take vitamins every day
7. Be able to feel confident when I am in public
8. Be able to wear clothes that are comfortable and make me look and feel AMAZING
9. Have more self-confidence when doing day-today stuff
10. Be fit and ready trying on wedding dresses.

OK I wrote 10 of my 20 down lol Some of these are going to take a lot of work for me (especially 7 and 9). I have always struggled with self-confidence issues. But one incident that really hurt me I will discuss since I think most have gone through a similar situation.

Two years ago during the summer my boyfriend (who is beyond amazing in every way) and his friends wanted to go to the beach down the street. Now a big girl with confidence issues does not get excited about this! I literally felt my blood sugars go up from stress and I did not want to go. This would involve me being in a bathing suit, wet and in front of people in shape….needless to say WORST NIGHTMARE.

I decided to go since I also did not want to be home alone (which would make me feel worse). So I went…I sat on the beach with jeans, a black hoodie and tank, and running shoes (put in mind it was 30 degrees out!) I was hot, I felt fat and awful and everyone was having a great time in bikinis swimming. I luckily had sun glasses on because I started to cry.

Every time I feel like eating something like a whole cake or a bag of chips, I think of that day. I felt so left out, and awful! Yes everyone cheats once and awhile, but I refuse to ever feel like that again. So I hope you guys push yourself, like walking an extra 5 minutes, or eating popcorn instead of cake, etc etc.

I thought I would share ! Hopefully I keep inspiring you guys: :)”