Category Archives: Diabetes and Parenting

Why My Child Eats Low Carb for Her Diabetes

In a post for Diabetes Daily, I wrote about the 5 main reasons why I feed my child with diabetes a low-carb diet. My duty is to deliver her safely into adulthood and ideally with perfect health, so that’s what I’m going for. And yes…her mental and emotional health is one of the priorities. Click below to go to DD and check out the article.

Share with a parent of a child with diabetes you think may be interested. As a former child with diabetes, I wish someone had shared something like this with my parents.

5 Reasons Why My Child With Diabetes Eats Low-Carb

The Diabetes Post I Never Wanted to Write

I knew quite a bit about type 1 diabetes before I diagnosed myself with it at age 11. My sister was diagnosed earlier the same year and I read up on it at the library in order to be useful to the family.

I still remember sitting in science class in 1994 when it hit me. I knew I had type 1 diabetes.

Days ago I got out the diary I wrote in between the ages of nine and 14. I read my early entries to my two nine-year-olds. They thought a day in February was hysterical which just said: “I’m SO bored!” I read to myself some of my age 10 entries, leading up to my diagnosis. Boy, was I moody…I couldn’t help but get a feeling of deja vu later that day when my daughter said something similar to what I had written on December 8th, 1995: “I just don’t know…” I wrote that so I know the feeling behind it and the way my daughter said it when I asked her if she was ok actually gave me the creeps. She sounded dazed and confused. I felt panic because it seemed that if I didn’t know what was wrong, and she didn’t know, then how could I help? She is an articulate child and generally knows herself so this kind of response was disturbing and abnormal.

Then on a typical Wednesday, my son comes up to me and says he is nervous because his vision is blurry. I stay calm and tell him that I’m going to check his blood sugar just to rule that one thing out. Type 1 diabetes in my children is a constant worry of mine.

I have two siblings with type 1 and an uncle with it, too. We definitely carry the genetic predisposition for it.

Alex is home from work now and he encourages our son to let me prick his finger.

He’s very nervous but he lets me do it. He’s 108. My stomach falls. I wish it was lower. That number is just good enough and just bad enough that I sit there dumbfounded. He looks worried and says, “that’s a little too high, isn’t it?” I have never lied to my kids so I tell him, “I think so…but it’s not too bad, we’re just going to keep an eye on your blood sugar going forward, ok? You don’t have to worry about it right now.” (His vision was back to normal after we checked him, turns out he had been pressing on his eyes, you know, things kids do).

Then suddenly, I decided I must check my daughter’s blood sugar. She is afraid of having her finger pricked so she runs away to her room. Alex has a chat with her and I am able to do it, though it’s no easy task. She has generally always been a very tough patient and I’m distracted by trying to keep her calm and keep her from pulling her finger away until the meter quickly counts down and beeps and the strangest number shows up on the screen: 245 mg/dL making my jaw fall open.

I’m speechless. I show Alex the meter and he looks just like me. He mouths the word “no…”. I tell our daughter there was a mistake and that I need to check her again. She’s upset by this and asks why. At this moment our son is looking at the result on the meter and says, “Was that her number? She’s really high…oh no, mom, I’m scared” And he starts to cry. She is on the other side of the room avoiding another finger prick. We check her again and confirm the high. She walks away to the couch and is upset about her bleeding finger and the slight throbbing. I accidentally pricked her too hard due to being unable to stop my shaking.

I check Alex’s blood sugar, for some strange reason. I don’t know what I was hoping for, the possibility of a screwy meter? He’s 100 mg/dL. I feel a rush of despair as I realize that our kids, who should have lower blood sugar than their dad, both have higher blood sugar than him.

Immediately I start thinking about research that shows what the chances are for a fraternal twin to get type 1 if one has it. I think the chance was about 22%, which is crazy high. For identical twins, I think it’s 50%.

I sit crying quietly with Alex at the dinner table for a few minutes. Then, while he’s holding our daughter in his arms, I ask him, “should we tell her?” Our daughter still doesn’t know what’s going on while the three of us are all mourning for her. Alex nods to my question. So I tell her that her blood sugar was high. She immediately knows she has type 1 as she covers her face to cry. She’s lived with it all her life by being my kid. Since she’s always been homeschooled, we’ve spent all our days together and she and her brother have not only seen all that I do to manage but have also heard me talk about it often. She even knows the risks and complications that can come with type 1.

I inform her with strong conviction that I have learned how to manage type 1 diabetes well and that we would take care of her. This is true. I have been a weird type 1 diabetic. I’ve talked and written about it much more than most type 1s would ever want to. Recently, I had told Alex that I still didn’t know why I have been obsessively compelled to learn so much about diabetes and to constantly read about it.

Sometimes you work hard and spend all your free time on something and you don’t understand why you’re driven to do it, you only know you must. I don’t enjoy learning about diabetes or talking about it or writing about it all the time. But now I know what I was training for, apparently.

A few years ago I imagined what I would feel if one of my children were diagnosed with this and I vividly saw myself on the floor, a puddle that no one could pull up and console–a pitiful shell of a person that couldn’t help anyone. I truly imagined that I would be so emotionally injured that I would die. But since my kids need me, I decided then that I had to toughen up. Because I can’t die on them.

Over the last few years, I have changed dramatically. My mindset is different now and many of my beliefs, too. I studied philosophy to learn how to determine was it real, true, and good and I started looking at everything more objectively. I was able to stop being mad at certain things and start being mad at things that deserved my wrath. I began to hold myself accountable and responsible for my life and my emotions. I stopped being fragile, honestly. I have been transmitting all this to my kids, teaching them how to think critically, be resilient, be righteous, and brave.

So I realized that night, standing in the kitchen with Alex’s arms around me, that I wasn’t a puddle on the floor. I was full of adrenaline of course, but I was standing tall and determined. If type 1 diabetes were a person, I’d be glaring at it, calculating just how I was going to beat it down.

Alex and I had a meeting with the kids the same evening about how we were all going to eat from now on. I eat a very low carb diet to manage my diabetes and now my entire family is going to do it. They are already used to a low carb diet but the step down to “very low carb” is not easy. I was surprised by how willing our son was to do this for his sister.

My daughter hasn’t cried again since…even after seeing me break down after the official diagnosis at the doctor’s office days later. She just took my hand and looked me in the eye and said firmly, “Everything is going to be alright.” I told her I was just so sorry and that I never wanted her to have what I have. She said, “I know, mom, it’s ok. Let’s go home.”

When did she grow up? Was it the day she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

We caught the type 1 early so she doesn’t need insulin, yet. Her diet is keeping her mostly in the 70s and 80s. I check her during the day and in the middle of the night. She’s like a new kid when it comes to the finger pricking. She easily gives me her pinky, her favorite finger–mine, too coincidentally, turns her head away and covers her eyes with her free hand.

I’m still bursting into spontaneous tears at times but I don’t feel weak and hopeless. I am devastated. Yet, my love for my kids fuels me. I will take care of my daughter’s diabetes and teach her how to have excellent blood sugar management. I will keep an eye on my son’s blood sugars. I will make sure my husband knows what he needs to know to feel confident when I’m not around.

If there’s anything I’ve learned thanks to diabetes is that life is hard but much harder if you don’t learn to defer gratification and be stoic and use restraint and wisdom and curiosity. It feels good to avoid sweets in order to see better blood sugars. It feels good to check blood sugar in the middle of the night to stay safe. Everything you do that is wise but difficult will boost your self-confidence and self-respect and make you the person you always wanted to be: healthy as is possible, brave, and in some very meaningful ways–triumphant.

I strive to be humble, patient, empathetic, calm, and respectful with my daughter throughout this journey. I know that if I do these things, she’ll likely treat herself that way the rest of her life and she only deserves good things–including normal blood sugar.

Calling Things by Their Proper Name and Why High Blood Sugars Always Make You Feel Bad

Dr. Stephen Ponder, an endocrinologist living with type 1 diabetes, has been posting thought-provoking questions on Facebook. One of the latest questions was: “How often do you say “good” or “bad” when talking about blood sugar (or an A1C)? If not, then how do you describe them? Should kids use “good” and “bad” when talking about their sugar levels?”

I thought I’d answer in the form of a blog post since this sparked a whole long train of thought for me.

Confucious supposedly said, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” If something causes you harm–for example, as high blood sugar does, then I hesitate NOT to call it a “bad” blood sugar because it simply is, whether we acknowledge it or not. I believe it would be bad for my health if I didn’t identify, accept, and name the truth on a regular basis. It’s hard to swallow but my reality needs to be very much imposed on me if I am to act in my best interest.

Houston: We Have a Problem

People email me all the time asking what the secret is to my pretty good diabetes management and how I have the discipline for it. Honestly, any good I derive from my actions begins with calling things by their proper name. That means that I admit that eating what I want and covering it with insulin doesn’t work well enough (for me). I openly say that low carb for type 1 diabetes is the only way I know of, to get close to achieving normal blood sugar levels, a healthy weight, and safety from severe hypoglycemia. And I say that not having normal blood sugar levels is physiologically harmful because we know it is. If it weren’t, no one would be diagnosed with pre-diabetes with a 6% A1c level but, they are every minute of every day. It is on that basis that I call a 6.5% harmful and deem it not good enough for me.

If I don’t acknowledge that something is “bad” or “not good” then I don’t follow with the appropriate response or actions which have to do with changing those blood sugars or anything else. We need to apply judgment in our daily lives. It’s necessary. I have to be able to admit to myself when I’ve mistreated a loved one or I’ll certainly continue to do it. I have to be able to admit when I’m overeating, or I’ll keep gaining weight. And I have to be able to say “no, that’s not good for me” or I will suffer various potentially unlimited consequences. What is it they say to those with an addiction? “You must first admit there is a problem.”

High Blood Sugars Make You Feel Bad Even if You’re Told Not to Feel Bad

I understand parents of children with diabetes don’t want to use “good” and “bad” in relation to blood sugars or diabetes management in part because the child didn’t have anything to do with getting such a brutal condition and we don’t want them to feel bad about themselves due to diabetes. And I do support the effort many parents put into saying things like, “It’s not that you did anything bad, it’s that this isn’t working and we need to figure out what will work better.” There is still an acknowledgment that something isn’t working and the troubleshooting can begin and the child can feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’ve recently put quite a bit of thought into why I struggle to do what I needed to as a kid with diabetes. There are several reasons but I think the main one is that doing what my parents and I were told to do didn’t ensure my success, at all, and made me feel sick and anxious anyhow and thus I acted out of hopelessness, by lying about my blood sugars, not always doing my blood sugar testing, and sneaking sugary foods to self-medicate my feelings of despair. I knew what my high blood sugars meant for my future, and in the immediate moment, my self-esteem took a hit. High blood sugars (especially really high blood sugars) make you extremely sluggish, make your saliva thick and foamy, your thinking slow, and make you not look and feel generally healthy (albeit subtly, at first).

Let’s face it, anything that is a detriment to health is a detriment to outwardly attractiveness, if not now, then later. I remember thinking as a teen that I was totally ok with my ears sticking out–there was nothing I could do, and they functioned properly, but I wasn’t ok with the weight gain I was experiencing from the way my diabetes was being managed. I wasn’t ok with becoming less attractive due to diabetes nor slower as I played sports which requires you to compete using your energy and speed. I couldn’t prove to myself or anyone else how just how good I could be as I couldn’t fully apply myself to anything. Within my capabilities, I tried SO hard, though. Not getting results for your efforts because of diabetes makes a person crazy. And successful diabetes management relies on the most effective efforts, not the most industrious ones so I lost out.

For those without diabetes, think of how you feel about yourself when you’ve been injured or come down with a bad cold–you’re knocked down a few pegs, right? Even if people are kind to you and don’t make you feel bad about any of it. Admit it, you feel less attractive, less productive, and you may feel motivated to do whatever it takes to get yourself back to feeling good, even doing things that you were not willing to do before that experience.

I believe many people with diabetes, including children, are in an impossibly precarious situation when their blood sugar management is less than ideal. This is particularly true once they learn what elevated blood sugars can do to them over time or once the negative effects stack up over the years. No, it’s not fair, or whatever, but all I know is my “good” diabetes management began when I admitted to myself that my diabetes management was “bad” and that if I were willing to make some sacrifices in the name of tight blood sugar management, I may have a ticket to health and happiness. It’s been more than worth it, which is why I keep annoyingly banging this tired drum.

Is it Possible to Do Better?

I am partial to diabetes management for adults and children which makes it easier for them to be successful with their diabetes because the alternative leads to misery. No matter how much you tell a person they are “good,” if their blood sugar levels are often high, they are going to be feeling poorly much of the time, and that is going to make them feel “bad,” regardless. It’s very hard for us to separate how we feel, physically, from how we feel, mentally. One follows the other. Feeling unhealthy does not lend itself to feeling good and it never will.

Do some people who don’t feel healthy manage to feel good and happy? Yes, but this is a feat not accomplished by most, and while children amaze us with their resilience alas, they do grow up, and many will suffer the weight of high blood sugars and blood sugar variability and fear of hypoglycemia as evidenced by personal social media accounts and all the studies pointing out rates of anxiety and depression in adults with type 1 diabetes.

This is why I encourage the attempt at a low carb diet for anyone with type 1 diabetes. Thanks to those who do very low carb diets, we’ve learned that it is possible to do better with glycemic control. Did you know that for a long time no one did better than a 4-minute mile and experts said it was impossible and once Sir Roger Bannister did, many others followed suit soon after? That’s because we can only accomplish what we believe is possible. I’m telling you that I’m not special, I don’t have more discipline than you, and that it is possible to achieve very tight and safe, blood sugar control.

The repercussions of this are incredible. In my experience, it leads to better moods, better relationships, improved ability to work, less fear of highs and lows, less anxiety, less depression, better sleep, and on and on. The positive effects are hard to quantify but they are exponential and eventually make going back to another way of managing diabetes something I won’t consider.

You can’t easily feel good about yourself if you don’t feel good physically and you likely can’t feel your best physically if you don’t have blood sugars as close to normal as possible. For more: check out the Sir Roger Bannister of the type 1 diabetes world: Dr. Richard K. Bernstein.

To conclude, I don’t worry about good/bad and any similar terminology when I think to myself, I worry mostly about my outcomes and my actual experience. It’s surprising how happy I can be while honestly telling myself that something is “bad”. That’s because I then put my energy into finding what makes it “good” and focus on that, instead. What you focus on matters and makes all the difference.

(If you manage your blood sugars well without low carb and you’re happy and healthy, I’m not directing this to you, at all.)

What my Son Taught me about Respecting People’s Fear of Needles

I grew up with type 1 diabetes and so it became crucial that I get comfortable with checking my blood sugar and giving myself injections in front of other people.  I would often be afraid of their reaction.  Would they be disgusted?  Worried?  Alarmed?  I have always used some discretion when handling these acts in public but I’ve also been vocal about how these acts affect me and not anyone else so I really don’t want to hear anyone complaining about it.  After all I’m the one enduring the pain, right?  Well, I may have been wrong.

My children are six now, but I noticed that when they were about 4, my son would stare at me when I gave my insulin shots.  He would watch the needle go in and out.  He’d even observe as I put the orange cap back on the syringe and zipped it back up in its case.  I thought to myself, “well, he sure seems interested” and I’d answer any questions he had about what I was doing.

As he got older he would ask questions like, “mommy, does it hurt when you do that?”  And I’d answer truthfully, “yes, sometimes it does, but usually it doesn’t”.  He would then say something like, “I sure am glad I don’t have diabetes.” In the past year, he has winced every time I prick my finger for a blood sugar check or given an insulin shot.  I also noticed that sometimes he would appear to physically shake off the image he just saw the way a parent might when envisioning a worst case scenario involving their precious child.

I have been quite accustomed to doing all these diabetes things in the same way someone else might pull their hair up into a ponytail or role up a shirt sleeve.  In other words, I have grown into an adult that recognized I needed to be comfortable checking my blood sugar and giving insulin anywhere and in front of anyone for my wellbeing and so I do these things mindlessly and without the crippling worry I felt as a child or teenager.  In doing so I’ve learned that most people have a lot of empathy and compassion.  They are cautious if they don’t know me and if we are say, shoulder to shoulder on a plane ride, but still rather polite.  I always imagined that I’d have children who wouldn’t even blink at my pricking my finger because I figured they’d be used to it.

My daughter has been an interesting comparison.  She doesn’t wince or tremble or look like she is in pain for me at all.  Instead, she looks away and continues what she is doing, staying just as happy-go-lucky as always.  Recently, after injecting, my son said,  “Mommy, it hurts me so much every time I see you do that.”  I quickly rushed to his side and said, “But, I’m ok sweetie, it only hurts a little, I’m still happy and smiling and everything is ok.”  Then he explained how he knows it does hurt sometimes, how he has seen the little bruises that sometimes arise, and how he hates that something painful is what keeps me alive.  Such empathy!  Then I was stunned when he said, “Would you please turn around when you are giving your shot so I don’t have to see?”

And I suddenly understood something I hadn’t before.  Some people watch us inject or prick our finger and genuinely feel a tingle through their body thanks to a release of cortisol brought on by the stress of the great load of empathy they feel for us.  Most of these people know we have to do what we do but some people are very sensitive, so much they might appreciate us having more discretion around them because they will feel our pain to some extent.

You might think of someone you don’t particularly like and not really care too much about their reaction.  I get it, but we all desire compassion from others and the only way to really earn that is through reciprocal empathy.  I care about you and you care about me.  My son doesn’t get that stress response anymore because even in the comfort of my own home I turn around or go to a different room.  When we are in close quarters I let him know what I have to do and he appreciates the warning so he can turn away.  Then I say I’m done and both my kids look at me and smile.

I now extend this awareness and courtesy to others wherever I go.  I bet there are less people out there with a fear of needles than those who are quite simply sensitive to another’s suffering.  And who would want to make this sweet little face upset?Christmas-Day-2011-134.jpg

Just to clarify, we people with diabetes should absolutely do what we need to do, when and where we need to do it. However, life should be played by ear and there are easy little ways to spread compassion as we go.  I’m not boldly defiant about my diabetes management in public–i’m calmly adamant that it’s the right thing to do.  When I soften myself up and show empathy towards others, they show it right back. It’s a win-win, what I’m advocating for.

When a Five Year Old Says “I Hate Diabetes”

“I hate diabetes” escaped the lips of my five year old son who doesn’t have that kind of language habit, yet, and who doesn’t really know the meaning of the word “hate”.  Hearing him say those three words set off a chain reaction of memories that started almost 21 years ago to the day when my youngest sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age three.  I remember having trouble going to sleep that night after my dad wearily explained that she had in incurable illness that would involve needles and bleeding (and so much more).  Before I fell asleep I remember whispering out loud, “I hate diabetes.”  Later that same year I wrote in my diary those very words with so much pressure from my pen the words permanently embedded into the next few pages.  Never one to pass up an opportunity for clarity, I dotted my exclamation points with my own 11 year old blood.

Since that year I have probably uttered “I hate diabetes” more than a million times-an estimate I don’t think is exaggerated.  I haven’t said or thought it much in the last few years because I want my mind filled with positive thoughts and my children to start life with a mental blank slate.  I want them to figure out how they feel about things versus feeling what I feel and thus carrying around a detrimental amount of my baggage.  It has served me well to remove those three words from my vocabulary.  I am much more equipped, emotionally speaking, to take care of myself.  And I do take care of myself.

Today, I was informing my children that tomorrow I will go to the eye doctor for a short visit.  My daughter said, “Ok, mom” while my son, seemingly alarmed, said, “Why? What’s wrong?”  I sat down and looked him in the eyes, which were staring at me intensely, “Well, nothing is wrong, but because I have diabetes I should go to the doctor each year to have a check-up”.

“But why does your diabetes mean you need a check up?” he continued.

“Because diabetes can hurt the body’s cells over time and our eyes are particularly sensitive.” I calmly explained.

My daughter jumped in saying, “So diabetes can hurt your eyes and other parts of your body because our whole body is a bunch of cells, right?”

“Yes.  And I’ve had diabetes for 20 years so it’s a good idea for me to be extra careful and see doctors every year to make sure my body is working like it should.”

My daughter smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and said confidently, “Sounds good, mom!”

My admittedly skeptical son looked down and said, “Well I hate it.”  He looked up at me with his brown eyes and in the most deliberate manor said, “I hate diabetes.”

I was stunned.

For a second I thought about saying something soothing and typical of a parent.  But all that came out was, “I do, too.”

And that was it.  He went back to eating his dinner.  I began my memory roller coaster and wondered how my child could know enough to say he hated something that he has always seen me have. Did I appear weak or sick to him?  Did I give him cause for worry? What gave it away?  Was he just putting the logic of my explanation together?

So many questions flooded me until I was tired of thinking.  All I’m sure of is I will do whatever it takes to make sure my diabetes doesn’t affect them more than it has to.  When it slows me down, makes me feel incompetent and a complete fool for having had children, I need to make sure I kick those thoughts to the curb.  So that my kids don’t catch those thoughts.  So that I don’t become those thoughts.  Because when a five year old says “I hate diabetes” one sits up and pays attention.  I don’t want my children tethered to my worries.  Or can this legitimately be their worry, too?  I’d rather it not be.  Especially not at five.  And not while I’m alright and it’s technically jumping the gun.

That’s what I will tell him tonight before he and his sister go to sleep.  That I’m alright and there is no need to worry.  I will make it a point to hear my own words.

 

The Case for Diabetes Cure Hope

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It takes bravery and guts to hope.  It’s a leap of faith.  There’s a vulnerability in it.  I love those qualities in people so I always encourage myself to feel hopeful about things.  Even if I’d rather put myself in a more protective state and cross my arms, shake my head, and tell myself that hoping is for ignorant suckers.

It’s not.

It’s beautiful and scary and takes patience.  I also believe it sets a very particular vibe that positively touches everyone and everything around it.

This week we heard two news stories come out about diabetes research.  I find them both uplifting because it gives me the feeling that we’re moving in the right direction, that we’re learning more things, and I’m reminded with this news that researchers are working on figuring diabetes out.  All that encourages me.  I’m doing my part by taking care of myself, and they are doing theirs by making strides in research-it’s excellent teamwork.

If I put myself in the frame of mind of a person whose child has type 1 diabetes, and I can’t feel what they feel, only I try to imagine more or less- I admit I feel an overwhelming sense of urgency and desperation.  I have a child that’s very allergic to some common foods and I see that as much easier to handle than a child with type 1 diabetes.  And even with my situation I feel desperation.  I’m anxiously awaiting relief of my way of life which includes more fear, home cooking, and limitations for my daughter and our entire family than we’d otherwise have.  I’m working on this.  I’m constantly trying to keep fear in check, to recognize that home cooking is healthier and cheaper anyway, and trying to see that limitations are only what we view them as.  In other words, I don’t live by the ocean and as a result, don’t get to see it often.  But I don’t view that as a limitation, it’s just the way it is.  Well, we don’t eat out due to allergies and it’s just the way it is for us.  The real tragedy in our case would be lack of food or epi-pens in a time of need.  So perspective and gratitude is huge in our day to day happiness.

However, type 1 in children is a complicated beast that puts a child in danger 24/7.  Is there anything else like that for a child outside of other serious conditions and extremely harsh living environments?  What I’m saying is that the seemingly irrational fear of parents of children with type 1 is something that really deserves our understanding, patience, and compassion.  Hope in their hands regarding a cure for type 1 diabetes is a very fragile thing.  And I’m just saying that I recognize that and cannot judge that position.

On the other hand as someone who made it through childhood with type 1, I feel much less fear and desperation for a cure for myself and unchecked I actually feel a tinge of pride and arrogance about how I’ve made it without a cure and all while being told every five years that the cure was right around the corner.  What did that do to me?  At first I felt like a ragdoll in a child’s hands.  Then I allowed it to give me a little bit of a shell.  A rigid, chilly shell.  But over the years I’ve let that go because like I said earlier, it’s a beautiful thing to feel hope.  I prefer being soft, pliable, open, and able to adapt to change.  I hated how at 13 years old, I felt embarrassed to show positive emotions because of how that emotion could turn sour all of a sudden and someone might witness that and I’d publically lose face.  I secretly preferred and longed to get myself back to a time when I would hear happy news, smile and leap for joy and then have my hopes dashed and suddenly pout and sigh from a sense of loss but soon get over it.  Am I saying I’d like to be like a child again?  Kind of yeah.  I watch my toddlers and am constantly amazed at their range of emotions in such a short time span.  They feel what they feel when they feel it.  Then they let it out, let it go, and move on.  It’s healthy and sweet and vulnerable and I admire and cherish this about them.  I also can’t help but notice that most children do this and it’s partly what allows them to generally learn so quickly, be so happy, and forgive so easily.

So for those of you with a bit of snark about the news that seems blown out of proportion or who feel that you’ve lost all hope and trust because of past promises about a cure, I understand that, too.  But, I wish for you to let go some of the pain from the past because well…it seems like a miserable weight to carry around.  Hope is light and energetic and doubt and sarcasm seem like the opposite.

No matter what, those of us with diabetes have it right now and that means we have to deal with it.  It begs to be managed and so our best bet is to live in the moment with it.  Not easy, I know, but what’s the alternative?  After all, nothing about having hope means ignoring reality-that would be more accurately described as delusion or assumption or arrogance.

But allowing hope to help us through our reality, well that’s it’s greatest purpose isn’t it?

The Way Kids See It

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For many of us with diabetes, our children will grow up watching us check our blood sugars, inject insulin or be connected to a pump, desperately shove sugar into our mouths, and not find any bit of it strange.

And the only time it becomes something they stop and ponder may be when a friend or someone from the outside asks questions about it.  “What’s your mom doing?”  “What’s wrong with her-is she sick?”

They will explain we have diabetes and that we have to check our blood sugars and take medicine for it.  It won’t even be a big deal.

Their reality of our having diabetes should be ours.

Focusing on wishing we didn’t have diabetes only hinders us and distracts us from all the diabetes related decisions we need to make every day.  We need all our energy for managing this thing.

For our children, it just “is” this way.  And for us to gain full acceptance of our diabetes we can try looking at it the same way, it just “is”.  That’s our reality.  Now what are we going to do with it?

Or better yet, what example are we going to give our kids about facing our reality and living life to the fullest?

10 Random Things from the Author of The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes

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Hi!  I’ve been away from the blog longer than ever since it started 3.5 years ago.  That ends today.  But, here is what has been consuming my thoughts and making writing about diabetes a lower priority:

1.  Travelling with diabetes is challenging.  I’ve really been working at getting the knack of it.  I don’t want it to be bad for my health you know?  The other day, I tried my best to check my blood sugar in line at the airport where you put your things in cubbies to get scanned and just as I put the blood in the strip the scanner sucked my cubby with my meter in it inside to be scanned and I had to ask the lady at the scanner, “Excuse me, what number do you see on my meter?”  She lifted the scanner flap and peeked inside and said, “911 I think?”  Huh?!  It came out a few seconds later and I saw a 116, phew!  People behind me looked a little nervous and I don’t blame them.  One TSA agent said, “We need to do a pat down, do you mind?”  I said, “Of course you need to now, go ahead.”  What was I doing checking at the most inappropriate time?  I felt really off like I might be very low and ready to pass out and didn’t want to hesitate with checking because I had to run to the next gate so I felt I needed to just do it then.  I get sick to my stomach with flying so I take dramamine and that makes me kind of loopy…but I still love it.  Flying that is, not the dramamine.

2.  My favorite number is two.  I know that’s random but-My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It’s really scary because even though surgery removed the tumor, the likelihood of return is very high.  I’m making him vegetable juices and hoping that does something to help.  This has made me have a heart to heart with myself about my diabetes because I can do so much to make my outcome a good one-I really need to remember that and be grateful for it.

3.  My kids being 3.5 and still at home with me all day is driving me nuts.  I hate feeling nagged because I really am very happy to have them with me, to read books and play games all day, mold their minds into caring, open, patient people, watch them impressed as they have expert command of the computer, but at the same time, I know I’m not enough.  And I’m not sure how to solve this which leads me to:

4.  My husband Alex and I are having a hard time deciding where to live.  We can’t decide whether to rent or buy, to get a house or condo or loft.  And its because what we want doesn’t exist where we live.  We want to buy a really small place (so that the cost is low and the space is just for basic needs) and then we want to use our extra money to eat well (for health’s sake) and to travel (for our kid’s mind’s sake).  And I don’t mean travel abroad, I mean anywhere.  Right now just driving to a neighboring town to visit isn’t doable because rent is so high (since we want a nice and safe area-gee are we just asking for too much?).  When we walk out of our front door we want to be around people, a community.  I live in a place that is too large to be a town and too small to be a city and so we don’t have any of the best of either world.  Others would disagree but I must be ambitious because I want more.  Alex does, too.  We’re lonely.  There, I said it.  My kids are lonely.  School is coming for them and I’m sure they will love it.  Maybe that’s all we have to wait for.  In the meantime daycare/preschool is too expensive here and we make too much to get federal aid for it-nor do I want it.  Stubborn Sysy strikes again.

5.  I’ve noticed there is a back lash online towards people who are health coaches or something similar.  Usually, the most upset are those who studied for years to get an accreditation of some kind.  I can understand.  However, what someone like myself does as a health coach is in no way a threat to what a dietitian or a nurse or a diabetes educator does.  Think of what a coach does?  Supports, cheers, listens, encourages.  I’ll write more about this soon.  And I’d like for people out there to know that vocation has a lot to do with how good one will be at their job.  Just think, we all took math in high school but how many of us could teach others that math?  I couldn’t to save my life.  My health coaching training took one intense year but I’ve been reading and training on the subject my whole life as if I grew up knowing what I wanted to do only not knowing it actually existed until recently.  And I think that goes for many people of all types of professions and work.  I may write more about this later in detail but for now, I just want to say that health coaches don’t take the place of the other health care professions, they just want to help alongside of them.  And there is a need for them otherwise so many people wouldn’t be calling us for help and leaving happy and satisfied.  And we deserve to make a living off of it because we’re working hard, helping people (isn’t that the point?), and can’t do our work as homeless people.  We don’t have huge loans to pay back but that’s not our fault.  We do have to struggle more to find work since so many are still skeptical however.

6.  I’d like to remind you all of the website Guerilla Goodness.  It’s awesome and inspiring and really cheers me up this time of year.  Great ideas here for spreading around secret acts of kindness-which I agree with the author-do change everything.

7.  I’ve been thinking about how to reconcile my love of fashion and quality clothing while not spending much and while buying from small businesses and while keeping my closet simple.  A friend from France emailed me explaining what most girls there do:  They buy a few pieces a year that they carefully select while walking around town, making sure they fit perfectly and they get shoes that are comfortable but exactly what they are looking for.  Then, they wear the same few outfits over and over and over.  It keeps things minimal, lets them wear what they love, and keeps costs down.  And at the end of the year, they have completely worn out their shoes and clothes and can start anew the next year.  I read the same thing in a book recently, too.  Just thought I’d share because I think too many of us have too much clothes and we don’t even love most of it and then our closets are overwhelming, we’ve spent too much, and for what?

8.  There is a website I want to share.  My type 1 friend Cynthia Zuber is on a holistic health journey.  She is doing great and it’s been very inspiring to get to know her and see what all she does to regain her health and maximize it.  She shares the most delicious recipes I’ve seen and just want to let you all know to check out Diabetes Light.

9.  Did you get the flu shot this year?  I didn’t though I can understand why some do.  I haven’t in many years.  So far, so good.  Things have been great since getting my Vitamin D levels up with Vitamin D3 supplements.  Oh and frequent hand washing.  Just wanted to share.

10.  My most popular post is about nerve damage reversal.  I am submitting an update here that as of December 2012, I have less foot pain than I have ever had.  In fact, I have had none this year.  I don’t know why.  I wonder if running bothers me (I’ve been doing more yoga and walking and less running).  For years I had tons of foot pain, tons!  Then as I regained control of my blood sugars the pain increased (which doctors told me could be due to healing of nerves)  Then the pain went away for 99% of the time.  I credit this lack of pain now to well managed blood sugars.  I thought I would halt damage by improving my sugars but it seems I’ve reversed some because of the lack of pain?  Pretty fantastic what great blood sugars can do.  Makes the discipline and healthy lifestyle so worth it.  Even if I just do it most of the time Winking smile  Anyway, I share because the possibility of less pain is a big motivator.

Take care, all.

xoxo,

Sysy

Diabetes in the Morning

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I am in the middle of a fantastic dream.  I’m a few years younger (!!!) and so is my husband (!!!) and we aren’t married or with children yet (!!!)  We are at his parent’s house after a date night, just relaxing and talking.  Only his parents are different people entirely (!!!) and the only other difference is their house has an enormous library (!!!)  Alex and I are singing along to an Elton John tune (geez, I can’t even dream the dorkiness out of us) when suddenly, from some very tiny corner of my consciousness, a little voice screams “wake up, you’re low! LOW!”

My dream must have been one of those lucid ones because in the dream I suddenly tell Alex I need to go home.  Then my dream vanishes and I find myself shaky and in bed.  Aw man, I didn’t get to check out any of those books…  I start nudging Alex next to me, “Hey, I’m low…Alex…Alex…I’m low!”  He doesn’t wake up.  I now tap forcefully when I hear a grumble that definitely doesn’t belong to Alex.  I open my eyes.  Alex has gone to work and my daughter is in bed with me.  Her eyes are closed but she wags an authoritative pointer finger in the air and says (in third person, no less)  “No, no Henri!  Aurora sleeping…”  and then she drifts off completely again.  “I’m so sorry sweetie pie!” I whisper, and bring myself to get out of bed and search for my glucose tablets, which apparently, I’ve hidden from my kids as well as myself.

I finally find them and drop back into bed.  I wake up 10 minutes later to a little boy chewing on some glucose tablets on the edge of my bed.  “No, no Henri!”  says Aurora, wagging her finger at her brother.

We’re OK!

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How interesting is it that children with a type 1 diabetic parent think certain non-normal things are indeed, normal?

When I stop and think about it, as I sometimes do thanks to comments and questions from others, I think, “Wow, this explains so much about so many people”.

What’s normal to us can be totally not normal or acceptable and yet, if we’re used to it, it’s our normal.

For my kids, who are now almost 3.5, having a mother with type 1 diabetes is what’s normal.  And yet, they also know it’s not normal.  They know through experience of their own scraped and bruised knees, that when I prick my finger and bleed, or bruise my stomach with an injection, that it’s not normal because they know it hurts to bleed and bruise.

It’s fascinating to me.  They see me check my blood sugar and they give me a hug and an “aw mama, boo-boo?”  I say, “yes, but I’m ok.”  My daughter says, “Ok, mama” and my son gives me a thumbs up and a smile.

I think it’s a great teaching experience to let them see that sometimes I hurt but that I don’t let it get me down.  I find that even though they can be dramatic about a small injury, they still smile and say “I’m ok”.  And that’s what I do when I prick my finger or give a shot or clean up spilled milk.

My kids understand that my insulin and glucose tablets are “medicine”.  Some don’t want their kids to think of their insulin as medicine because it implies “sickness” but only one of my kids has taken an antibiotic before-and that was two years ago, so they don’t know what “medicine” really is anyway.

Right now my daughter has a cold and she looks on at her brother’s drawing on the easel as I check my blood sugar.  She says, “mama ok?”  I say, “yes, mama’s ok!”  (Even though my blood sugar is a little higher than I’d like).  She sneezes and grabs a tissue for her runny nose.  I say, “Are you ok?”  She sneezes, wipes her nose, grins, and twirls on one foot.  I assume that’s a “yes”.

Uh oh, now my son sneezed.

Have a Fabulous Friday with your kid/partner/friend/niece/nephew/dog/cat.

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