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

Full Circle

“No matter the deviation, all things come full circle. You begin and end your journey in the same place, but with a different set of eyes.” – Abram (Jennifer DeLucy, Seers of Light (Light, #1))

This time last year we were in the midst of a ferocious battle of closing what should have become our dream home.

We began to plan our dream wedding. Live the dream life.  On the lake. With a picture perfect view.

Our plans all laid out. Exactly how WE wanted.

It was made known to us very quickly in 2014 that this was not the plan God had in store for us. No matter how hard we tried.

In February 2014 I feel fear, failure and intense anxiety as one of the last times I pull into the one kilometre lane that is to take us to our dream home. It is dusk. Darkness ensuing. It feels like our world is crumbling before us.

As I pull in the lane, I see in the distance my husband sitting in a Bobcat. Uncovered. Temperatures hovering in the -30C with windchill. The wind bites my cheeks. It sends a chill through me as I walk down the lane to summate if my husband will be able to have the snow filled, long lane cleared to the standards needed for the mortgage inspector the next day.

It doesn’t look good. It looks grim. I feel a wave of hopelessness.

I ask Steve into the car to warm up. He is covered in frost and snow.

I ask him. “How bad do you want this?”

He gives me a flicker of hope. He thinks he can have it done.

He wants this. So do I. We’ve come too far.  We have entered into a committed agreement we will not fail at.

There are these beautiful pictures we have drawn in our minds and on paper over the past 3 months of how this will turn out.  It has to be that way. No exception.

We kiss good bye. I ask him to keep me up to date. I drive home with the dogs in tow.

4:00 a.m. the next morning I wake with a jolt. I roll over. I reach for him. He is not there. Is he OKAY??  What has happened?

I text him. I call. We finally connect. The news is not good.

Throughout the night the snow continues to blow across the lane. With the darkness of the night it is hard for Steve to tell how far he has progressed.

As the sun breaks the horizon he is in shock. He is no where near completion. He calls on a dear friend for help. When all is said and done, the lane is cleared in time for the inspector.

Once again we believe the end is near.  Our dream will finally come true.

Within a few weeks we will begin the renovations and transition to our dream home.

Fast forward to a few weeks later.

It is Thursday, March 6, 2014. I am at the Diabetes Education Centre until 9:00 pm where I work as a Registered Nurse.

The whole reason we found our dream home. The only reason why we plan on leaving our hometown.

In the past week a series of events (which I cannot share due to legal agreements) have occurred in which I’ve been waiting for a phone call telling me that despite a series of unfortunate circumstances beyond our control, we will finally close what will be the home of our dreams.  Our resting place.

My cell phone rings. It is our Real Estate Agent. The tone of his voice does not give me hope that all is good. He apologizes. He is so sorry. He is informed that our dream home has been sold to someone else. The selling of our dream home is beyond our control and there is nothing we can do.  We have a sense of the wrong doings of human beings that have caused this BUT there is nothing we can do to get our dream home back.

I sob uncontrollably. Our house is sold. Our dream home is gone. Our wedding plans no longer.

I am in shock.

But I’m not.  There has been this whisper for sometime telling me this wasn’t going to end up the way we planned.

Going back to that cold, hopeless night at the lane something or more appropriately Someone was shaking His head. I could sense it.

I suspect He was saying to Himself:

“How many roadblocks do I have to put up before they realize this is not part of My plan for them?”

The next step was to call Steve. I have to tell him we lost ‘the Cottage’.

We need to find a home now. A home we didn’t think we would have to look or settle for.

We have three months to come up with an answer whether we purchase or rent. Our current home is piled high with boxes.  It has been for two months.  The thought of living out of boxes for three more months seems overwhelming and unbearable.

The next most important discussion we have after shifting gears is how committed are we to my career at the Diabetes Education Centre. It is becoming evident the two hour daily commute is taking a toll on my heath.  The past year has been the most sick I have been in several years.  The stress of the drive and long days does not pair well with my diabetes.

As equally important which marries with our career discussions is; what direction are we heading with Steve’s business “VERGEbuilders”. Steve’s business is growing fast on the commercial and residential side. As the year rolls on so does the work, resulting in hiring more employees.  We did not anticipate the speed of growth.  With that we have to decide where our residence best supports his business.  We see this as critical.

At the end of a series of conversations we decide it is best to stay in our home town. We feel that is where we belong. It is hard for us to imagine moving out of the area we called home since our childhood.  This is also where 2 of our 3 children live for the time being.

It isn’t a simple decision. But, at that point we know my career at the Diabetes Centre will not be long term. We don’t know what, when or how but we are hopeful another opportunity will eventually present itself. We create a long term deadline for my current career with a ‘plan’.  In the meantime, I will continue to commute.

This is our plan.

Little did we know we don’t need to make any plans. It is already in the works.

We begin our search for a new home.  Nothing clicks.  We feel defeat & frustration. Fortunately, the purchasers of our current home agree to extend closing by two more months.

In the meantime we begin to discuss wedding options. The caterer and photographer are booked for our dream wedding in July at our dream home we no longer have. It is another dig at the wounds of losing our dream home as I cancel them.

When we originally discussed wedding plans, all I could envision is Steve and I on the beach together. I could picture the dress, the sandals, the peace, the simplicity of it all.

As time goes by, I ignore what I really want. I begin to sacrifice what I always imagine in order to accommodate to my thought of how happy others will be taking part in sharing our vows. My compromise is getting married on the lake at our dream home.

As we cross paths with our family and friends we hear comments…”Are you guys married yet?” “When are you guys getting married?”

We want to get married but not to ‘just get married’. We want it to be the right time at the right place. We also agree we won’t do it to please others. It has to be for us. Isn’t that why two people come together in matrimony?

As we search with painful disbelief for the perfect abode we discuss the options for the perfect time and place to legally become husband and wife.

It circles back to a beach far away.  Just the two of us.  Simple.

This decision seems the easiest to make among all the others before us. We decide to announce our intentions.  Of course the ones we love give us their blessings and support.

April 2014…we spend the day with our Real Estate Agent again. We look at houses. Nothing feels right. It just doesn’t feel like home. I’m sure mostly because I’m bitter and still in disbelief.

The last house we look at is a newly built home in a subdivision development. Despite it being bright & open, the rooms are too small, the choice of decor is not what I would choose for our home. It triggers a curiosity within me that leads me to ask our Agent if we can view the model home to see what other options are available.

We arrive at the model home. We tour through it. I love it. I can picture us living in a home like this.  It has big windows, an open concept and we can reconfigure it to accommodate to our needs.  The only con is the 40 foot lot.  With all the benefits it has and where it is located, the small lot in the city I can live with.

We talk with the Builder’s Sales Rep. There is only 1 lot left. There are others preparing to put a deposit down. We go home and grab the cheque book. The lot is ours.  The Sales Rep is surprised at our timing.  There were no other opportunities available for quite some time that suits our needs.

Both Steve and I have built before. I throughly enjoy the process. For Steve the process itself is a means to an end.

Knowing our current home and the closing of our new home will not coincide, I begin the search for a short term rental property that will accept our fur babies. It is no easy feat. No one wants short term tenants or fur babies.

In desperation I place an ad on Kijiji. I search on line every night.  A few months go by. Then, one day I receive an email. It is a response to my search. We arrange to meet. As we finish introductions, the owner informs us we will probably not get the rental as he has people viewing the property who are interested in long term. We take a deep breathe, quickly look through the main floor of the tiny bungalow. If we can get it, it will work just fine. I am thankful the kitchen is huge compared to our current home.  I have a tinge of excitement at this.  We are told we will be notified either way in two days.  Just the thought of being told we won’t get the rental seems to be too much right now.

Less than 12 hours later, my phone rings. It is the owner. The rental is ours!  What a break!

In the meantime we decide to get married on a beach. Just the two of us. We begin to plan. It feels good to not have the burden of guest lists, decorations and agendas. We keep it simple by booking with an on line wedding agency. We decide to get married on Magen’s Bay Beach in St Thomas in May.

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Despite all that happened in such a short period of time and the about face we have made with major life plans, we feel like everything is going to be ok.  The day of our wedding is so perfect it seems nothing can take us down.

Throughout these changes and plans, we decide it best for me to start researching alternate career plans. With Steve’s business we decide it a consideration for me to look into a career in Real Estate. I have felt for some time I need to take a break from the world of diabetes (minus my own and my sons) and the daily two hour drive.  This past winter road conditions were too much.

I consult with our Real Estate Agent to gain some insight as to whether this career choice will be a good fit.  As I make my way home from work I discuss the pros and cons with him.

Then, another change in plans we are not part of.

I arrive home that same evening I am on the phone with our Real Estate Agent. I hear an email come in on my phone. I open it. It’s from an old colleague who is a Sales Rep for Bayer. We occasionally partnered when I worked for Medtronic as a Territory Manager. It has been about 1 1/2 years since we have been in contact. It was at that time I went through an interview process with Bayer. In the end, after four interviews it was between me and one other person. They chose to hire the other person.

In my Colleagues email she introduces the fact the person that was chosen over me that previously represented the territory which is small and close to home resigned. She asks if I’d be interested in applying for the position once again.  It is Medical Sales in the Diabetes Division.

I give Steve a brief summary of the conversation I had earlier in the evening with our Real Estate Agent.

All of a sudden we have two career opportunities presented in one day that permit me to shorten my commute time and balance my personal and work life.

We decide that the pros of going back into Medical sales is way too good of an opportunity to pass up. I keep trying to escape from the professional world of diabetes but I see it is also not part of the plan for me.  I apply and am subsequently offered the position.  My role as an Diabetes Educator to Health Care Professionals seems to be a big part of the plan in my life.

In a matter of a few weeks in May, I am offered a new job, I resign from my position as a Diabetes Educator, we begin the process of building a home and we fly off to the Carribean to be married.

We return from our wedding/honeymoon starting my new job.

It all sounds like it’s coming full circle, doesn’t it?

Well, almost.

In all of these plans that have came before us there comes another ‘glitch’.

With my new career comes a probation period. My probation will not end before we need to close the house. It will impact the type of mortgage and down payment required.

I stress over how to get around this. I approach the sales rep for the Builder. I ask if we can extend the closing. It has been extended three times already by the Builder. We are only one month difference between closing and my probation ending. No deal. The closing date will stay as is.

I throw my hands in the air. Once again I have no control. I have to pray and trust that what will be, will be. I put an alert out to our families. We need a lot of prayer that somehow the closing date will be extended.

Two weeks prior to the closing date a miracle happens. I can’t disclose the events which unfold due to a waiver I signed with the Builder. What I can say is despite the stress of what occurs next, which in the very moment of realization feels like another broken shoelace, comes the answer to our prayers.  It takes a few months for me to understand this is in fact an answer to prayer.  In the first 4-5 weeks it looks like our world has fallen apart again.  So much so we begin to look at options of where to live.

As a result of these circumstances our closing date is extended two weeks past the end of my probation.

Amongst all of this we also experience a dramatic shift in two of our children’s lives. One moving to Edmonton, Alberta and one to Wellington, New Zealand.

So here it is, after all is said and done. In 2014 there are many major deviations in our plans. Most times we can’t make sense of why.

The stress, sadness and changes are unbearable at times.

Regardless of the changes of events from our original plans at the end of 2013 and into the beginning of 2014, the outcomes stay pretty much the same.

We are married. I began a new career, shortening my commute time. In a few days we will take possession of our beautiful home in our hometown. Steve’s business is flourishing.

Besides the plans, how did our view of these events occurring in 2014 change our point of view?

1.  Our faith.  God has the right plans for us.

2.  Our acceptance that we do not have the control in our lives we think we do.

3.  We don’t always have our own best interest at heart even though we may think we do.

4.  Understanding. When a situation occurs, the outcome will be what is meant to be even if we don’t see it yet.

5.  To see that in the end of every journey, every circumstance, big or small, there is a lesson that will help us see with a much needed different set of eyes.

To bid 2014 adieu, we stand in the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 15,100 feet.

I try to absorb the grandiosity of what my eyes see and the complexity of what happened in 2014.  In these moments I try to realize that I will always have the ground under my feet, the sky above me, water abounding, food on my table, a roof over my head and people that love me.

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Here’s to seeing 2015 with a new set of eyes and having the faith to allow the plans that are in the works for this year be according to His will, not mine.

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

All I Ever Wanted – My First of Two

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All I Ever Wanted -  My First of Two

Pictured is days after Cayla was born on June 18,1991. She looks abnormally fat, doesn’t she? She is in the Newborn Critical Care Unit. That is the look of a Macrosomic baby. She was SO sick. I was very sick as well, but not related to diabetes.

In 1990 when I found out I was pregnant with Cayla, I lived with diabetes for 15 years.

At that time I found out I was pregnant I was in my 3rd year of Nursing in College. I was only in College because my Mom told me I should get a post-secondary education “just in case”. She told me that as a woman it’s always good to have an education for when I ever needed it. I didn’t see the point at the time & so much so I was initially kicked out of my 1st year of Nursing. I cared so little about having a post secondary education. I was in love & I just wanted to get married & have a family. That’s all I cared. Before re-starting back into the last half of my 1st year, I married. That helped me re-focus on achieving the education I ‘should’ have.

In the second year of Nursing I did a rotation in the Labour & Delivery floor. Ultimately I helped with several deliveries. I ached for a baby. I wanted to be a Mom SO bad.

At that point, I had 2 goals.

1. Finish my Nursing with honours. My goal was a result of being ‘told’ I couldn’t do something. That wasn’t true, but I saw it that way. I saw it as “they kicked me out, I’ll show ‘them'” I would finish it & with pizzaz.

2. Get pregnant.

Anyone who knows me understands that when Tracy wants something, Tracy will do all the right things & take all the roads needed to achieve it. It takes some painful learning, but I get there in time.

What resulted?

1. Tracy became pregnant 2 months into the 3rd year of Nursing.

When my classmates told me it would be near impossible to finish my year out (my due date was the 1st week of July) or ask me how was I going to do it with diabetes….it made me dig in my heels deeper. I would do it all!! I would graduate from Nursing with Honours, have my baby, write my Nursing exams, become a R.N. & be the best Mom ever.

The Diabetes Complications & Control Trial had yet to begin. There were no guidelines for pregnancy. I had not seen a Diabetes Specialist in years. Thankfully I went to my Family Physician within 6 weeks of suspecting I was pregnant. Back then, the home tests to decide pregnancy were not reliant so early. By blood test, the physician confirmed I was. He immediately referred me to an Internal Medicine Physician who specialized in diabetes. It was not an easy pregnancy.

The variables:

1. My long-acting insulin therapy consisted of NPH morning & supper (today all nighttime insulin is injected at bedtime to avoid missing the coverage of the Dawn Phenomenon causing sometimes severe low blood sugars in the hours shortly after midnight).

2. My short-acting insulin therapy consisted of regular insulin, once at breakfast, once at supper. Humalog had not been launched yet. I knew by how sleepy I was after meals that the regular insulin was not covering my needs. Sometimes, I would take very small doses of regular at lunch to see if it would help. I look back & see how incredible it was that I knew if I could coordinate my meal insulin to my meal sugars I would feel better. Unfortunately, it just resulted in severe lows as it stacked throughout the day.

3. I began my Clinical Consolidation shortly after I became pregnant. I worked 40 hours/week on shift in the hospital. As well, on the weekends I wasn’t on shift at the hospital, I was working as a cashier at a grocery store to help pay the bills. Weekly hours I put in between consolidation & work until I was hospitalized at 32 weeks was in excess of 45-50 hours, not including assignments & studying.

I remember the wild swings in blood sugars. I remember panicking every time the meter I used since I was 11 showed a high or low. I knew it would hurt my baby. Even then hypoglycemia protocol was not in place. If was low, I panicked as I always did. I would drink juice & then eat & eat. What resulted was a high so high I had to take regular insulin to correct in fear I would hurt my baby. As time progressed with the pregnancy, I learned how to manage certain issues. A low treatment was a couple of mouthfuls of milk. That seemed to keep my sugars more stable then before. I decreased the amount of carbs I ate. This eliminated the wild swings.

Unfortunately, it was too late, it did not save my first-born from the complications of a poorly controlled pregnancy.

1. As soon as Cayla was born, her blood sugar was tested.  She went from 11 mmol/L (198 mg/dl) to 2 mmol/L (40 mg/dl) in a matter of minutes.

2. Throughout my illness in the hospital, not related to my diabetes, I gained 45 lbs of fluid. Cayla gained fluid as well. Upon birth she weighed 9 pounds 11 ounces because of this. When they tried to insert an IV to bring he sugar up, they had difficulties getting a vein.

3. She was very, very ill with jaundice. Not only was she placed under lights, but her body was wrapped in a specialize blanket that emitted extra phototherapy. My baby was SO yellow. They poked her little heel with a razor blade too many times. I cried as she shook & screamed when they did it. My saving grace was I saw she had spunk!!

What I describe are the behaviours & control that lead to what Cayla was born with…Macrosomia. She & I were so fortunate, she did not have any respiratory problems. She was only in CCU for 1 week. Each day they told me I couldn’t have her in my room (I was too sick to go home too) I cried. I just wanted to be a Mom.

I took mental notes of my experience with my pregnancy with Cayla. I used them to my advantage with Kurtis.

Look for my post tomorrow on my pregnancy & birth of Kurtis.

Looking Back – Being a Teen with Type 1

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Looking Back - Being a Teen with Type 1

I know what it is like to grow up as a kid & teen living with Type 1 diabetes. It’s tough!

I’m going to give you a snapshot of how I lived life with diabetes as a teen….

First, I had a huge, gigantic glucose meter. See the pic! I had the blue one for many years. There was NO way that thing was going with me anywhere. I hated testing! The test strips of this meter took a ton of blood compared to today. The finger pricker had no dial! It had one setting. When it made contact with my finger it felt like it went through it. If anyone has been to diabetes camp & used the single use, disposable prickers, you know what I mean! It took 2 minutes for the test. I had better things to do then stand in front of my meter for 2 minutes to wait for a number…so guess what I didn’t do a lot of? Test!! I mean, I knew how I felt. I could manage my diabetes without having to look at a number! At least that’s what I believed at the time.

Secondly, even though I only had to take needles twice a day, I hated it. They hurt! The needles on the syringes that I used were 13mm long. Now, the word “millimetres” sounds small but if you take out a ruler & measure 13 mm & imagine that going into a lean body with little fat, it goes directly into the muscle. I was small at 115 pounds & 5’1″. I always took my insulin, the only time I didn’t inject was when I truly forgot. Then I would call my Mom & she would bring it to me…usually at school or work. I knew I couldn’t live without my insulin.

Next, I didn’t eat much. I now know that many young girls & even women will decrease their insulin dose and run slightly higher or stop eating as many calories to keep their weight down. It is known, insulin makes one fat. It’s not that this was my intention or that I was aware of that at the time but I figured if I didn’t eat as often, my sugars dipped low so I could eat McDonald’s or candies. “Back then” (boy I sound old!) there was no carb counting to allow for ‘treats’. There was also no ‘correction doses’. If you were high, you dealt with it until it came down on its own with the insulin you had on board.

I didn’t think about my diabetes much. I remember being terribly embarrassed when I had lows. I hated having attention drawn to me. I remember being tired a lot. I fell asleep in class in high school a lot. I had a hard time focusing.

The one thing I didn’t do when I was a teen was drink alcohol. My Mom scared the life out of me about what it could do to me and my diabetes, that I am thankful for. It was one less variable I had to deal with.

With that being said, at the age of 16, my parents found me in bed one morning, lying in my vomit, barely responsive. That night I had been out with my boyfriend & when I came home I was really, really tired. Instead of testing before bed, I crashed. Little did I realize, because I hadn’t tested, I was very low before I had even climbed into bed.

Laying in a hospital bed with an excruciating headache, the next day was the beginning of realizing my diabetes needed my attention. Pretending it wasn’t there and omitting what needed to be done to manage it was not serving a purpose. I was punishing myself. I was letting my diabetes take control of me.