Tried and True Recipe….Feeds 8…Not in My Experience

I found this recipe, I am guessing, about 18 years ago.  It was an instant hit. So much so, in particular, my daughter Cayla would request it.  She asked me to send it to her when she lived in France and then in the Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia. She asked me to send so she could make it for the families she worked for as an Au Pair.

This year before she left for her adventure living in Wellington, New Zealand we had a ‘Farewell’ party.  I asked what meal she would like me to make for this occasion.  My famous Picadillo was the request without hesitation.

We sit down at the table with Cayla, my parents and my husband, Steve.  We begin to partake.  Steve says “Why haven’t you made this before?”  He loves it.

Oops.  I don’t know why.  Kids left.  On their own.  Changed up the menu.

Once again the love of Picadillo is becoming tradition.  I forgot how delicious it is!   And it has a nice stable impact on my blood sugar.

Before Cayla left for Wellington, she took a pic of the recipe.  When my husband Steve committed to working in Ottawa for 4 months, he took a pic of the recipe as well.

I make a huge batch of it for myself almost every week.  I freeze some for suppers which I can heat quickly in a pot on the stove (I choose not to own a microwave) as well as thermos lunches while working.

This is the ecipe and pics of tonights creation.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium organic onions, finely chopped

1 large organic bell pepper, finely chopped

6 organic plum tomatoes, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh organic garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 lb lean ground beef (I use only lean ground sirloin)

1 lb ground pork (I haven’t tried substituting a lower fat meat such as ground chicken or turkey but I would think it is just as delicious)

3/4 organic balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp capers, drained

1/2 cup tomato puree

Optional garnish:  Sour cream

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and peppers. Cook until they are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste; garlic, cumin and coriander.  Given our winter and today’s temp of -35C, I decide to add some colour with a yellow pepper instead of a green bell.

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Turn the heat up to medium high and add the meat.  Brown the meat, using a spoon to break it into tiny pieces.  Add the balsamic vinegar, capers and tomatoe puree.

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Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.

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Be creative in how you chose to serve this…in a wrap or taco…whether it be wheat, gluten free or lettuce.  The Picadillo world is your oyster!

I prefer to serve it in a bowl with lactose free sour cream.

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Looking forward to hear if it becomes a family favourite in your home as well.  Serves 8 (that’s what the recipe says…I have never experienced 1 batch lasting for that many people!)

Where to Start…Our 12 Day Crazy Busy Trip to Peru…The Intro

I have heard this song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros off and on while listening to Songza.com for the past few years. Yes, the tune is catchy but the words hit the deepest chord within me.

What is Home?

The days my daughter Cayla and my son Kurtis were born I found my home. They were and still are the centre of my being and when they were little that was where I trusted I belonged. Where I felt beyond comfortable. I was in my realm. I always wanted to be a Mom. I knew I would protect them as best as I had in me to the death. They have been, still are and will always be a part of me and the core of my being.

Growing up my Mom was very fond of the story of Ruth and it seemed she quoted a verse in particular often and in a very fond way.  I didn’t understand the impact it would it have on my life until the past few years.  And so I also associate this Blog series on our trip to Pero to what Ruth says in Ruth 1:16.

Ruth 1:16 (ISV) | In Context | Whole Chapter

16 But Ruth answered, “Stop urging me to abandon you and to turn back from following you. Because wherever you go, I’ll go. Wherever you live, I’ll live. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Besides my children I have never trusted anyone so much in my entire life as I have my husband Steve.  Even early on in our relationship with the decisions I made, I felt he always had my best interest at heart.  I trust he will love and accept me, diabetes and all. Never once has he ever had to say to me “Trust Me.”.  My gut just says I should. One should never have to say “Trust me.” to make one believe they should.   Actions speak louder than words.

In our conversations in the past many years, aside from our trips, Steve has been to 42 countries.  A majority of them have been for pleasure, as well, some for business and missions.

Of these countries he often speaks fondly of Peru.   He tells me it is the most beautiful place on the earth.  Then I must go there!!!

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We are aware of ‘rumours’ that Machu Picchu may not be open to the travels Steve experienced years before.

So, when do we go?

Well, life is funny like that.  In 2014 both of my children announce that one is moving to Edmonton, Alberta and one is moving to Wellington, New Zealand.  They won’t be home for Christmas.

For all the Mommies out there I can hear and feel your overwhelming voice of sadness and “that sucks”.  YEP!  It really sucks.

In early Summer I say to Steve that I can not see a Christmas tree standing tall, all lit up with the kids ornaments for the past 23 years hung in all its glory and no kids.  I threaten fetal position in front of the tree.

And so I ask.  Can I please go away with you to the most beautiful place on earth.  And it is written in stone, so to speak.  We commit ourselves to a trip to Peru to experience Machu Picchu on Christmas Day and Plaza Des Armas in Cusco on New Years Eve. One of the top 10 places for New Years in the world!

I am excited but as I research and speak more to those who have been I get nervous.

Despite my nervousness and apprehensions based on others fear mongering, Steve reassures me I can overcome anything that comes our way while we vacation in Peru. Just like Vietnam and Cambodia.

We are a spontaneous pair.  Our Vietnam/Cambodia trip begain with “hey do you want to go to Montreal for a long weekend?” and 3 days before taking flight instead of Montreal, we book a flight with no plans except a hotel ‘base camp’ for Vietnam and Cambodia…for the same price.

There wasn’t a glitch in that whole experience  (except running out of underwear in which I realize I barely fit into even a large size of women’s Cambodian underwear!)  I look back on that trip and it was worth every minute. So much so, we both want to go back.  Despite all the low blood sugars from the heat and humidity as well as losing my beloved Continuous Glucose sensor because it just couldn’t adhere to my skin. (I know how to make that baby stick now!!!)

Despite our challenges and crazy, spontaneous trip while in Vietnam and Cambodia, I experience great apprehensions with Peru.  The two potential issues I am most concerned about are elevation sickness and keeping safe from gluten and wheat so as to avoid a reaction, at worst a severe one.  The stomach upset is one thing.  The hives are another.

I am proactive with elevation sickness and speak with my family physician.  He advises I don’t need anything, I’ll be fine. He was just there and all was good.  He tells me I will be okay. This gives me reassurance.

I admit, on this trip I am not fully proactive in my celiac disease as I should be.  I am still in a learning curve.  This is my first trip as a person living with Celiac disease.  We assume given the Peruvians very large crops of corn and potatoes…there would be very little wheat.

Not so.  Stay tuned.

Reassurances

I am dedicating this to my friend Dee who has concerns that she will develop the mindset of an ‘old Diabetic’.  This mindset consists of being scared to death that having short-term high blood sugars will cause amputation, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

As a result of these fears, in the past many ‘old Diabetics’ learned to avoid high blood sugars, purposely running very tight sugars on old insulin such as Lente®, Humulin® L, NPH, Humulin® N, Toronto® and Humulin® R.  As a result the experiences of multiple moderate to severe low blood sugars occurred daily and weekly.  ‘Old Diabetics’ were not taught the mindset that a severe low could kill them or cause damage as well.  I know this all to well because I am one of ‘those’ ‘old Diabetics’.  Sadly, today many still live life like this despite the new technologies and choices we have to manage our diabetes.

I am not supporting anything more than the targets set for you or the A1C you need to achieve to attain a healthy life, but I do believe achieving these go beyond numbers and are associated with the mindset of getting there.

Whether you are an ‘old Diabetic’ or not, being diagnosed and living with diabetes can be empowering AND daunting.  You change your lifestyle to live healthier, a big bonus!  After feeling good about your accomplishments you suddenly experience a setback.  So frustrating!

Do you recall this picture?  Do you see an old hag or a young woman?  Can you change your perception of what you initially see?  It is so hard!

Old hag or young woman

 

It is the same with our diabetes.  What do we see when we look at our lives with diabetes?  How do we change our perception?

Reassurances

Is this picture of a lane a challenge that may be snowy and slippery leading to the unknown, possibly a struggle to walk back up, heart beating fast, muscles burning?  Oh the worry over what could be a beautiful journey if the perception is changed.  Or do you see the pleasure of an enjoyable walk with relaxing views including a beautiful winter blue sky in the horizon?  Do you see it?

How can I reassure you that you can manage your diabetes and avoid the things you fear?  Honestly, I can’t.

What I can reassure you is; YOU are not bad.  You are you as a person first who lives with a chronic disease called diabetes.  Don’t connect the two as to who you are and your accomplishments as a person.

You are not your sugars.  You are not your diabetes.  When I hear the statement “I’ve been bad.”, the next words out of my mouth are; “Hey, do you have diabetes???”.  We both laugh and I say, “That’s why you have high and low blood sugars!, HEY, You have diabetes!!”

So how can I reassure you?  I have changed my view of being an ‘old Diabetic’.

I see the picture differently now.  Do you know why?  Living with diabetes isn’t just about me.  What I understand now is that if I choose to not ‘play the game’.  If I choose to not adhere to the rules, if I choose to keep my perspective as an ‘old Diabetic’ and not learn a new perspective, I am not the only one I am hurting.

Who saves me or helps when I decide to run too tight and too low?  Who is SO scared that they may lose me because I was afraid of a short term high or got crazy keeping my sugars too tight?  It’s not me!

Reassurances

ReassurancesI have given my heart and soul raising my 2 beautiful children into young adulthood, I want to continue doing that.  In particular to my son Kurtis as he begins his life living with diabetes independently.

I want to live life. I want grow old with Steve and be able to fully enjoy our journey together.  I don’t him to worry about me.  He has to deal with my choices I make with my diabetes now and in the future.

 

So, with this, these are my reassurances to you:

You can live with diabetes.

You will change your perspective each day on how that will happen.

Through trial and error you will find your groove.

Do not fear the unknown.  Work with what you have today and change your game plan and perspective as need be.  BUT stick to the rules.

You are not bad no matter what the numbers say, the only change you need to make when you see them is to make it better, for your sake and for those you love.

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

Make the Call

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Make the Call

This is the first thing I saw as I opened my eyes on June 18, 1996, the 5th Birthday of my daughter Cayla. A toilet.

As I open my eyes and look around I realize I am sitting on the floor of the bathroom. I am freezing cold. I am covered in something sticky. It is in my hair, on my face. It is all over me. My lips are numb. My left thigh aches.  I note I have on the same clothes I wore to bed.  An oversized t-shirt with the decals that celebrated the Toronto Blue Jays World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.  The t-shirt is so soaked in cold sweat it could’ve been wrung out. I am shaking profusely.

I then look over to my left and see my then husband. He is sitting on the edge of the tub. I mumble to him “I’m low.”. I see that he is holding my glucose meter.  As he shows me the face of it, evident he has just tested my sugar I notice his hand is shaking. He says “No, you’re high.” and shows me the number on the meter. I feebly argue I am definitely low despite the number on the blood glucose meter. I then say my leg is sore and ask if he gave me a needle.

He then explains to me the events that occurred that lead to this point.   As he is sound asleep in bed he feels my arm fall across his chest in bed. As he grabs my arm to remove it from his chest, he realizes that it is very cold and clammy. So cold and clammy he wonders if I am alive. After placing my arm back at my side, he nudges me and ask if I am okay. According to him the only sound out of my mouth is a moan. He continues to tell me that he then picks me up out of the bed and carries me to the kitchen where he attempts to feed me honey, as he tries to tuck the honey into the corner of my cheek to allow it slowly drain into the back of my throat, down into my stomach where it will begin to raise my sugar, I fight.

According to those who have cared for me during a severe low, I am not a nice person.  Despite my small stature I am a fighter & don’t like to cooperate.  I have been known to be holding my son Kurtis when he was a baby, refusing to give him up, insisting I need to protect him.  When I injected my insulin using vial and syringe I made a habit of leaving a new syringe and vials of insulin on the kitchen table so I didn’t forget to take my insulin.  After being carried from the bedroom, unresponsive and seated at the kitchen table, while my caregiver gets the honey out of the cupboard, I have been known to unconsciously draw up my insulin from the vials into a syringe & insist I MUST give me my insulin.  With adrenalin kicking my mind into fight mode, I have been known to hold the syringe full of insulin tightly in the air, making it challenging for the person trying to save me from my low to get close enough to treat it.  I have been known to place both feet on either side of the outside of car door to prevent my caregiver from getting me in the car to take me to the hospital.  Yes, I am one of THOSE in a severe low.

He continues to attempt to place the honey in my mouth.   According to the story I hear the # on the BG meter reads high, well above target.  As a result he re-adjusts his plan and determines that when he found me in bed I was not low but high. He injects 10 units of Humulin® R (regular) insulin in my left thigh. I don’t remember any of it.  It is 5am when he found me cold and clammy in bed, it is 10am when I wake up to see the toilet.

After I come to my senses in front of the toilet, he helps me clean up and leads me to the couch. I feel so guilty. Not because I had the low…it was considered inevitable with that type of insulin and I always tried to convince myself it wasn’t my fault. Back then the insulin I took caused me many severe lows.

I feel guilty because it is Cayla’s 5th birthday and birthdays are important. My Mom always made birthdays a very special day and I made a point of carrying that tradition on for my children.

I felt guilty because I am not able to get up and make Cayla’s morning as special as I typically did. I am not able to smile, hug her and wish her a Happy Birthday. I felt guilty because I can’t make her Birthday breakfast.

Instead, she is witness to her Father trying to bring her Mother out of severe low.

I feel guilty because I have to lay on the couch testing my sugars every few minutes to make sure I don’t bottom out from the 10 units of Humulin® R I have active in me.  I feel guilty because I am a bystander as I watch her Dad present her with her new bicycle. I feel guilty that on that day, her special day I feel like a failure as a person, a parent, as a person living with diabetes.

The learning I received from this morning is that she was more worried about me then how the morning of her 5th Birthday unfolded. She smiled as he presents her with her new bike. Then she says to her Dad, ” Daddy, I think you should’ve called for an ambulance.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference….” –Reinhold Niebuhr

Meaning

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Meaning

If you didn’t live with diabetes would you be the same person you are today? What has changed about you & your family as a result? Has it been a positive change?

Without a doubt I have a passion & a purpose that I believe would have been more difficult to discover had it not been for living with ‘my’ diabetes. Although there are days I wonder how much more energy (many without diabetes say I have more then they could harness so I hesitate to wish that upon anybody! LOL) as well as how much easier & clearer my mind would be to think & process daily thoughts (that again scares people that if I thought & processed more than I do I would be a very overbearing person). Maybe I am just really good at hiding how crappy I feel somedays. BUT, in the end, I have no regrets or misgivings about being handed this lot in life. Especially now that I sit with peeps & their families that live with diabetes & appreciate that I am their coach. I love sharing my experiences of 38 years of living with diabetes, as well as 13 years as a Mom of a child with diabetes to help others.

On the other hand, I do find at this point in time challenging as a parent of a ‘child’/young adult living with diabetes. At time of diagnosis & since he became a teenager I wish it had never happened or that I could keep him at the age I was able to manage him fairly easily. I tell myself that someday I will not feel that way. He too will find his rhythm, as I did, living with T1 diabetes. I don’t think there is a parent out there that can say that their family, them or their child is better off because of having diabetes.

My Mom’s perspective? Now that she knows I take great care of my diabetes & have a career that I love as a result of it she doesn’t worry as she did years ago. With that being said, I know she still has this ‘old’ diabetes mindset that one day I will announce I have kidney failure or I’m going blind. But as each day goes by I know she sees this will not happen…not in this day in age.

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.