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!)

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.

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.

Change or Transition?

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Change or Transition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Making Diabetes Sexy

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Making Diabetes Sexy

Pictured is my “Keeping Diabetes Sexy” bag. If you saw it in my purse you would think it was a make-up bag. It’s pink, it’s pretty, it’s girly, it’s sexy. It has character & looks glamorous. But, that is not the sexiest part of this bag, what is? The contents contained within.

Inside is a back up infusion set, tubing, cartridge, Tegaderm, AAA battery, pen tip, lancet, 1/2 unit pen with rapid acting insulin, test strips, Dex 4 gel, SweetTarts (in it’s own sexy container), ketone meter, ketone strips, BG meter & gum. GUM?!? Yep. What’s the one thing that is so not sexy when you have a high sugar??? Bad breathe!!

So why are these items that are products to support my diabetes in a time of high or low blood sugars sexy? Let me convince you they are by telling you what is not…

1. In 1995 I worked full time at a daycare. Driving home from work I realized that I was going low. All I had with me was a really ripe banana. Cayla & Kurtis were in the car with me. I managed to eat the banana & arrived at a convenience store only to discover I had no money on me. At that time there was no debit, no cell phone. I decided I could make the 15 minute drive home to get the juice I so badly needed. I don’t remember driving home. I could’ve killed my children, someone else or left my children without their Mom.

2. Just this past November we attended a Christmas dinner. We stayed overnight. About 2am I woke feeling very, very sick to my stomach. I tossed & turned until I realized I should run to the bathroom. I didn’t make it. From that time until about 8am I continued to vomit violently. My muscles ached, I couldn’t shake it. My BG’s were between 12-15 mmol/L. I determined they were high because of the stress of vomiting. I thought for sure I had food poisoning as the salmon I ate dinner was a bit ‘funny’. I continued to correct & at one point did see my BG drop to 8 mmol/L. Finally at 8am when I was struggling to breath, my chest felt so heavy, every breathe I took burning like acid, I turned to my fiancé & asked him to take me to the hospital, something was really wrong. It was at that moment I picked up my pump to correct a high one more time & realized I could feel the wet insulin coming through the tubing at the connection of the cartridge. It was only then I realized I was in DKA. Thankfully I had an extra site change, tubing & cartridge with me. I changed it up & took a sufficient bolus to avoid hospitalization. I reversed the DKA fairly quickly on my own. I had no ketone meter & no ketone strips to test & avoid this. So not sexy…my fiancé cleaning up after me every time I threw up not knowing what else to do.

What’s else makes our diabetes look unattractive?

1. Having a low & asking someone for something… anything… because we didn’t have our sexy bag.

2. Running out of test strips & ‘guessing’ BG’s only to find out they were out of target & resulted in being sensitive to someone that was unnecessary…or thinking you’re low when you’re high, treating & ending up being really high…because we didn’t have our sexy bag.

3. Being stressed because the infusion set tore out & now acutely making a Plan B to get insulin by injection or an infusion site….because we didn’t have our sexy bag.

4. Having the insulin pump run out of insulin & no access to any for several hours…by the time you get to some you are very high, feel sick & really, really crappy…ugh!! Not sexy!

5. Having the lancet device in your ‘poker’ bend (believe me it’s happened!!) & have no way to check for a full day because there isn’t a sexy bag with a back up…refer back to #2.

6. Having your infusion sweat off to the point of you having to hold in place for hours because the ‘sticky’ stuff is no longer working or accidentally ripping a stainless infusion set out when taking off your shirt to put on a gown for an x-ray. Sexy is having a Tegaderm & infusion site to to stick it down or replace it.

All these events don’t sound so attractive do they?…quite frankly, if you stood back & watched someone have these things happen AND they had pulled out their “Keeping Diabetes Sexy” bag you would’ve thought to yourself…wow, that person has it together, even living with a 24-7-365 disease…that’s attractive!! AND…what is so good looking & sexy about a plain old blue or black case that stores your pens, meter & pump stuff?? Dress them up, make them yours!!

SO….go shopping!! Have fun picking out a bag that says who you are. Fill it up! It’s time for you to own “_____________(insert your name) Keeping Diabetes Sexy” bag….it’s time to make your diabetes sexy!!

How Green is the Grass?

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How Green is the Grass?

This pic is where the movie Laura Croft Tomb Raider was taped. We were there when we visited Ta Prohm at Ankor Wat in Cambodia. I’m a big Tomb Raider fan. it was pretty amazing to be where it was filmed. The tree you see in the pic was jaw dropping. It was also amazing to think that something with such grandiose roots, reaching for the sky could survive in such barren conditions. It seemed it was in a totally foreign environment in which it needed to survive, yet it thrived & boasted so with its huge roots.

Thinking about that tree I reflect back in time. I remember being a “Diabetes Consultant” i.e. a sales rep for Novo Nordisk Inc. I fought hard to get that position. I knew I was fortunate to be there. I also was confident I had the passion to move it forward & benefit others, namely Health Care Practitioners. My goal was to influence so they would improve the lives of those living with diabetes en masse. I wanted to change the world of diabetes. I had been on the other side working in I.C.U. & I wanted to stop the madness. I believed that the best way to make that impact was in this way. Because I believed so passionately & so deeply about ‘my’ cause I passionately believed Novo Nordisk’s products were the best out there. No other pharmaceutical company selling insulin, pen tips, insulin pens or Type 2 oral agents could have a product as good as the one I sold. Their pipeline & success was overwhelming. Based on my steadfast belief & guidance from those who taught me to sell, I learned to sell & I sold well.

Did I sell like a pharma rep? I have & will maintain I didn’t. I had a hard time asking for the business, closing the sale. Instead, I believed through building relationships, earning trust & education inadvertently I did sell. When I left the company I was vying for 1st place out of 65 reps in less than 5 years. When I began the territory I looked after was flat lined, when I left it was growing in double digits. I steadily climbed the ladder of sales success. My drive wasn’t because of the money or recognition. Why did I ‘want it all’? Because I wanted to tell others that I succeeded based on building trust, relationships AND most importantly educating my clients with passion because I believed. I believed in the best for people living with diabetes & I wasn’t afraid to say so. My clients reassured me voluntarily they heard me loud & clear & I lead them to believe. They wrote the products I sold because they trusted that I would provide for them what was needed to take care of their patients living with diabetes. I would give them the information they needed to help them empower their patients.

Little did I know I was establishing my diabetes roots & standing out in an environment that is tough to penetrate. I was often asked why I wasn’t a diabetes educator. I just couldn’t envision myself doing it. I liked the rush of sales & the impact I made. I loved the relationships I had. I could walk into clinics & see Docs that other reps couldn’t. I didn’t think there was anywhere else I could make such a huge impact.

After my tenure with Medtronic, I honestly didn’t know where I belonged & believed exiting the diabetes world may be best for me to take care of myself & my family. What I learned was, when the roots are deep, it’s really, really hard to transplant somewhere else.

Seven weeks today I have been a Diabetes Nurse Educator at the most amazing clinic for Type 1’s. I don’t know of any other like this. As I said, first, I didn’t think I’d ever be an ‘educator’, which now I see I always was. Secondly but most importantly & the reason for this Blog is the deep roots I have established with the relationships & trust I developed over the past 9 years. All of these things have brought me to where I needed to be. Many I work with were my pharma clients, now they are my colleagues.

The greatest thing I have learned in the last 7 weeks? For all the products; insulin, meters, insulin pens, pen tips & pumps….my passion for certain products has dissipated a lot. I have realized & I have preached it…each persons diabetes is unique. It is their own. The product needs to chosen for the lifestyle of the person living with diabetes…not the other way around. I sit at my desk listening to my patients & I ask…what tools & education can I share with you to empower you to live with your Diabetes Beyond Borders?

The roots just keep getting deeper.