Category Archives: Diabetes and Parenting

Diabetes isn’t a Drama Queen

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The other night, I realized my kids had ate my glucose tablets so I reached under my bed for the emergency bag of gummy candies I have stashed there.  I frantically tore the bag open and started stuffing my mouth in frustration.  Alex studied me for a moment and said, “Are you ok?”

Through a mouthful of sticky, fruit shaped, red 40 dyed High Fructose Corn Syrup poison I muttered, “I hate these lows, the ones that shoot down quickly.”  Then as beads of sweat came down my forehead and my heart raced I said, “It literally feels like death is coming to get me.”

Alex looked at me sympathetically and said frankly, “Well, that’s pretty much what’s happening, isn’t it?”

I’m usually a tad dramatic but this time and many other times, diabetes rises to the occasion.

Diabetes isn’t a drama queen.  And we’re not drama queens or kings for living with it.

This stuff is for real.

Three

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My kid’s turned three the other day.  We spent the day watching 9 little kids play together in celebration.  They all dealt with obstacles as those obstacles presented themselves (how do I reach that blackberry on the blackberry tree?)  They helped each other.  They weren’t afraid to tell the truth.  Or to cry.  Or laugh.  And when they fell down they just jumped back up and continued on their way.

If we manage our diabetes in the same spirit with which a child lives, I think we can do pretty well.

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The kids planted a tree with dad for their birthday.

A word on my children in case they read this one day.  Aurora is a sensitive and cheerful child.  She likes to act.  In fact, the world is her stage, almost all the time.  She can play alone for hours.  She loves to dance and sing and is very enthusiastic and kind towards others.  She is a bit of a drama queen like me, which entertains me to no end.  She loves being outdoors and discovered that she loves being barefoot outside.  So much so that I now struggle to get her to wear shoes.  Oh, and she’s very stubborn.  But I’m kind of glad about that.  Her favorite food is anything starchy or sweet (ugh).

Henri is really extroverted and friendly.  He is excitable and high energy.  When he stops moving he falls asleep.  He loves to inspect everything new that presents itself, whether that be a bug, a piece of technology, a toy, or a blade of grass.  He can be a handful but I have discovered that if he’s had his fill of social endeavor, he’s calm and happy.  If not, well, look out, that’s all I gotta say.  With all his moving about he is a surprisingly good cuddle bug and is very affectionate and loving.  He is also very decisive and bossy.  He’ll only eat chicken if there are bones attached.

The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes also turns Three!

I had began blogging with one goal in mind: to tell others that going from lowest of low to happy and healthy was possible because that’s my story.  But this blogging thing has turned into a vehicle for being a diabetes advocate and for discovering opportunities for talking to more people about our diabetes than I ever imagined.  My favorite thing is teamwork and camaraderie and working on making a real difference.  Blogging has opened up a world where these things are all possible-much more so than if I had just done what I set out to do initially.

So here’s to going with the flow and letting hard work and one’s heart lead the way.  Fulfillment doesn’t escape us that way.  I foresee blogging forever so watch out!

XOXO

ps:  If you want to guest post, I don’t care who you are, you’re welcome to (provided you’re real).  Contact me at sysy@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com

Leashes Aren’t Only for Dogs

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Aurora took this picture of “daddy chasing brother”

Alex is going to be away a few weeks working out of state which is leaving me going from cliff hanging to free falling.  Or so it feels.

It’s not just that I’m doing more by myself but also, Alex and I are used to doing everything together so it’s hard to have him away.  And of course, there is the issue of having twin toddlers and how they are at an age where it’s much easier to have a one adult per child ratio happening.

Just the other day at the grocery store, Henri took off running as I was paying.  I left Aurora by the cart and took off sprinting after him.  Henri is the fastest little boy I’ve ever seen and of course, he’s mine.  Just as he was about to pass the last set of doors before getting to the street, an elderly man saw him and his lunatic mom (aka-me) a ways behind him, screaming “STOP Henriiii!”  The man shuffled his feet to the left and then to the right repeatedly while bent over with arms spread to the sides to prevent Henri from getting past.  The man looked exactly like a center on the basketball court.  Henri tried one last attempt through the man’s legs as the stranger whom we’ll call “light on his feet Bob” snatched him up and handed him to me.

I was so embarrassed I apologized and thanked “Bob” and he said while grinning, “Nah, honey, now you see why they say it takes a village?”  A village of kind, nimble footed souls, yes.  Then off I went in search of Aurora who had picked up a few bags of M&M’s, clutching them close to her chocolate loving heart.  It’s funny, she’s never had M&M’s before, doesn’t see TV commercials, and yet her instincts tell her they’re good.

So that’s why we don’t go out often enough.  Let me ask you all a desperate and serious question.  Would it be awful to use those …child leashes-I mean restraints?  I keep cringing at the thought of using them but I cringe even more to think of one of my kids meeting a car while on the run.  They do it a lot.  They think it’s funny to see me freak out.  Did you see one of the latest Modern Family episodes where Cam and Mitchell use one for their daughter while at Disneyland?  Did you see the way the family reacted?  Like it was inappropriate and ridiculous looking?  Like they were treating her like an untrained puppy?  WELL.  That’s what I’m talking about.  And they were two adults for one child.

My mom had five kids and she says that she has learned that twins are uniquely difficult (not more, just uniquely) because of how they’re at the same developmental stage.  And I think that’s what is tough for me.  I can’t go anywhere safely or without tons of stress but almost everyone imagines I should be able to (as I imagined I’d be able to before actually experiencing this wonderful madness).  It’s not that I feel judged.  I just don’t feel quite understood.  Even some of my siblings don’t see what’s so challenging about it.  And then there’s the third baby I have to take care of-my diabetes.  The combination makes me feel like I’m risking the kid’s safety too often and my health, too.

That’s it.  I’m ordering child restraints right away.  Thanks for listening.  And next time we all see a kid-on-a-leash, let’s think about how the parent behind the child is simply scared that their little runaway will run away and get abducted or struck by a car.  Or injure a helpful stranger trying to stop them.

Interview about Bonding with My Sister Over Type 1 Diabetes

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Painting is called “Thank You” by Ana Morales

 

I had a chance to meet Sanofi’s Laura Kolodjeski in Washington D.C. last month and not only did we so easily hit it off as friends, Laura also interviewed me about what it was like for my family to have two type 1 diabetes diagnosis in the family.  You all know how I can go on and on and so here is Part 1 of that interview.  It’s pretty candid considering how comfortable I was speaking to Laura.  I hope you all enjoy.

Thanks, Laura!

Confessions From a Stay-At-Home Mom

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Yes, that’s my son wearing his sister’s hair bow.

 

Lately I’ve had some breakthroughs in honesty with myself (sounds funny and sad all at once doesn’t it?)  I’ve come to an interesting conclusion…

During my twin pregnancy I imagined being the kind of mom that cooks organic food, takes the kids out to the park and on play dates, reads books and plays games and sings songs all day, and enjoys it all thoroughly.

HA.

I’ve slowly but surely arrived at the understanding with myself that I suck as a stay at home mom.  There.  I said it.  Just to catch a break I let my kids color on the walls (which takes HOURS of scrubbing with baking soda and vinegar to remove).  I allow them to leap over the high end of the couch (yeah, kinda dangerous-but they’re so skillful!).  And sometimes they eat pop tarts for breakfast (which leads me to deal with the subsequent sugar overload and extremely agitated behavior).  Now don’t get me wrong.  I know that’s not that bad.  Overall, my kids eat healthy and get treated really well.

When I say I suck as a stay at home mom, what I mean is I don’t like it (I can’t believe I just said that).

I do like being in my robe all morning if I so please.  I like knowing how my kids are doing at all times of the day.  I like seeing the fun and funny and crazy things they do.  I know I’m fortunate to be able to stay home with them.  But, I feel like I lose my mind.  Even when I was a kid, I preferred to hang around adults.  Now that I am one, this is all too true for me.  One never gets used to diapers, in my case.  I can only sing but so many kid songs during the day before I feel my brain wanting to explode.  And when my kids scream in unison, I want to run down the street to the liquor store.

My anxiousness to work in my field of passion, health and nutrition for people with diabetes, as a health coach, has me raring to go like a hungry bull or race horse.  I am torn between wanting so badly to dedicate time on this and yet I am full of guilt because I know my kids deserve better.  They deserve my undivided attention.  I’d hire a nanny but I can’t afford one or daycare.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do until they were born but that’s precisely when I got really busy so I haven’t been able to dedicate time to my newfound “thing”.  It’s pretty frustrating, as wonderful a blessing as they are.

I will say that my kids do get the best of me.  My blog and other online work gets my scraps, late at night or during naptime.  It’s just that the best of me is feeling so forced?  I can totally understand women who have their kids and return to work a few months later.  We are not all the same personality type and cannot possibly all do the same parenting styles.  The thing is, since I can’t get my kids another care taker, it is my responsibility to not work 10 other jobs while parenting them all day.  I can’t burn out and I can’t let my health slip.  And if I don’t give them 100%, problems will arise that could have been prevented.

So I resolve to hold back a little on the blog.  Maybe write once a week?  One quality post is better than three hurried ones, I’m sure.  I think it’s great I’m feeling really motivated for my work (first time EVER!).  But, I’m trying to remember there is a time for everything.  I checked my blood sugar 20 times a day to make them, surely I can parent them the way I feel is best even though it’s not my favorite thing?  (Kids, if you read this one day, YOU are both my favorite things but I am no Mary Poppins)

Does anyone else feel torn, selfish, or anxious about life as a mom?  I think we need to talk about this more openly.  I don’t want to be ashamed for feeling torn between what I need to do and what I want to do.  It does help to get this all out.

DSMA Blog Carnival January 2012

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I’m barely squeezing in DSMA’s Blog Carnival entry for this month which asks the question:

What is the one thing you are looking forward to this year?

My formal answer is…my health coaching business!  It fits into my life and personality perfectly.  And though I love being with my kids, I do think I’m one of those moms that needs a part time thing to stay sane.  Not to mention, the way the economy is these days…I can totally get why both parents often work to make ends meet.  We are no different.

Now for my secret, locked away answer. My kids will be turning three in June and I look forward to them talking.  By now, yes, they are technically behind.  But, luckily, that’s the only set back that can be observed AND…I feel like it’s right around the corner.  My son talks all the time only you really can’t make out much of what he says.  It’s time for him to stop using “twin gibberish” or “twinspeak” and start using English or Spanish.  He knows both.  Son, just pick one.  I beg you.

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My daughter on the other hand doesn’t say much.  She likes to make a lot of noises.  She can imitate any noise (or action for that matter, she could be a very talented mime).  She can do any animal sound, even an elephant (an advanced one, in my opinion) and the other day I heard her repeating her leaptop’s alphabet sounds.  She can pronounce the sound for every letter in the alphabet.  I’ve heard her say well over 50 words by now.  But she doesn’t like repeating them.  It’s like she doesn’t want to talk, yet.  Weird, because mom is such a blabbermouth and clearly, it’s so much fun.  Anyway, I think she has a pretty wild sense of  humor.  Yesterday for example, Alex encouraged her to say “mama” instead of “papa” when calling out to me.  She can say “mama” and she does say it, but she thinks it’s funny to say “papa” because I’m like, “No! I’m mama!”  We asked her to say “mama” quite a bit and you know what she did?  She spent the rest of the evening calling me “Sysy”, instead.  You see what silliness I’m dealing with here?

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Anyway, the reason that this is something I’m really looking forward to is not just because it’s convenient and fun to have them talk but mostly because deep…deep down I sometimes wonder if my kids don’t talk yet because of my having diabetes or not breast feeding them long enough or not feeding them the right stuff or just doing something wrong.  I usually understand that this happens to plenty of kids and I know it’s common in twins, but on certain days, I find myself scared that somehow I’ve ruined them.  Perhaps with toddler TV shows or by somehow being an inadequate mom.

It’s often an asset to be the type that analyzes situations to death but when it comes to parenting I think it drives a person nuts.  Surprisingly, it’s been helpful to write this post out.  It has helped me realize I just want to focus on making the most of this year by doing things with them like finger painting, howling at the moon, running in the grandparent’s yard, playing with cousins, dancing on the balcony when it rains, and hopefully, when they are ready, having long conversations…about anything.

Interview with Dan and Sally Roman

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Dan and Sally Roman have two children who have been diagnosed with type 1 and neither child takes insulin. They don’t call what they’ve done a cure, rather blood sugars have been normalized via lifestyle habits. I was as confused and shocked as you when I first heard of this. I ask that you please keep an open mind as you read this.

No one has to feel compelled to do as they have done, however to say what they are doing is a lie or a scam, without having infinite knowledge about type 1 diabetes or what they’re doing is exercising ignorance and I know we can all rise above that. It benefits us all to learn more about what they’ve done and to think about how this information could be used by our diabetes researchers.

I’ve interviewed Dan Roman to hear their story and to get some tough questions answered.

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Please tell us a little about yourselves and your family.

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Sally and I are the parents of 6 children ranging in ages from 10 to 24. The four children still at home with us are 10, 12, 14 and 16. We have two type 1 diabetic children, ages 10 and 14, with whom we have had great success managing their disease through diet and lifestyle changes. I previously worked for 18 years with a specialty pharmacy and disposable medical supply company where I held the title of Vice President of Sales. Sally was formerly a registered nurse before becoming a full time mother of 6 children. After diligent research (and some good old fashion trial and error) we discovered the elements that comprise what we call the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle. Through an ongoing process of combining various alternative measures and seeing the cause and effect of different foods, we have fine-tuned this lifestyle for greater success and easier, more practical application in a busy world. We now enjoy helping others learn the practical application of the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle though our company, Health-e-Solutions.

Will you share a little of your two son’s diagnosis stories?

Our story began in January of 2008. We thought our youngest child, Gabriel, possibly had a bladder infection because of his frequent urination. Our children had a bad flu virus over the holidays and Gabriel just did not recover from it completely.

Our family doctor said he suspected Gabriel had type 1 diabetes. We were shocked. We had no family history of diabetes, and overall our family had been very healthy. The tests taken the next day and explained by our pediatric endocrinologist revealed that our six-year-old son would probably be insulin-dependent within six months. He did not yet need insulin injections but was close to that point. Our doctor insisted that there was nothing we could do to prevent the onset of diabetes. He said that no dietary changes were needed or would help. He advised us to prepare for the inevitable day that was just around the corner when Gabriel would need to go on insulin.

We spent extensive time researching all possible options of treatment. We incorporated several approaches after realizing that our nutrition can really impact our health. We began to test different foods and meticulously chart Gabe’s various food responses. We discovered that many recipes we found for diabetics had too high of a glycemic load, even many alkaline recipes. Desperate to make this lifestyle change “livable,” my wife camped out in the kitchen experimenting with new culinary creations.

It was so rewarding to see that within a month Gabriel’s blood sugar levels stabilized.

Our story took a twist in the road when only four months later our ten year old son, Nathan, was also diagnosed with early type 1 diabetes. Nathan had been exhibiting behavior changes for several months. He was very moody and could not concentrate in school. His grades were suffering. We learned that siblings of type one diabetics were at much greater risk of developing diabetes than the general population, so we decided to have all of our children tested.

Nathan joined his brother on the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle adventure. The same day Nathan was diagnosed, a blood test revealed that Gabriel’s fasting insulin had dropped below the measurable limits of the test and his c-peptide was down to .18 (normal range was .8 – 3.1). Although we were thankful that Gabriel was maintaining normal blood sugar levels, we grieved at what appeared to be the loss of insulin production. Gabriel seemed to be following the path the pediatric endocrinologist laid out for us, except that neither of our boys required any exogenous insulin yet. Even with very low insulin levels, their blood sugars were very stable while eating the diabetic-alkaline diet.

By this time we found a naturopathic physician well versed in diabetes and very supportive of our lifestyle changes. We decided to have our boys followed by him instead of the pediatric endocrinologist.

In July of 2008, after two months of perseverance, we ended up back at our doctor’s office. We were stunned when he announced the results of both boys’ recent lab tests. Gabriel’s pancreas had once again begun to produce some insulin (still below normal, but a definite change in direction). Nathan was overproducing insulin in order to compensate for insulin antibodies present. Both were maintaining normal blood sugar levels. We were overwhelmed with gratitude.

Fast forward to today, it has been four years since Gabriel was diagnosed. Both he and Nathan are doing exceptionally well. Their A1c tests remain below 5.0 and their blood sugar levels are very stable. All other tests are within the “normal” ranges.

Do your boys take insulin?

No. Neither one of them has ever had to take insulin because we were fortunate enough to catch the disease in an early enough stage of progression. For that we are very thankful for the astute observations of our family doctor back in January of 2008.

Do they still have diabetes or do you feel it has been reversed?

Yes, they still have diabetes, but yes it has been reversed. All of their symptoms have disappeared. As long as they remain on the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle they have normal blood glucose results. We now only test their blood glucose levels when they try new foods because they have been so stable for such a long time.

We like to say that the monster (diabetes) is locked up in a box. As long as our boys are faithful to living the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle, they are symptom-free. They do not have to test blood sugars daily. They can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, so long as it is within the diabetic-alkaline diet. They do not count carbs or food portions. They (and we) sleep care-free at night, never worrying about hypoglycemia. We know the monster is still there, locked up in that box, but it is severely limited in what it can do.

What is the explanation that doctors give you about this? Do you they think their diabetes has been reversed?

We typically hear that they must have been misdiagnosed, or that they are having a very strong honeymoon phase. But this cannot explain all the others who have implemented the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle and had similar or even more remarkable results. Some have gotten completely off insulin and no longer have any antibodies. Of course, everybody responds differently because everybody is unique in how they express their diabetes.

Our two doctors that have reviewed their cases believe the symptoms have been reversed, and they definitely attribute it to the diet and lifestyle changes. We definitely think their diabetes has been reversed. The symptoms have all disappeared. But that is not to say we think they have been cured. As stated earlier, the monster is locked up in a box.

Is there any possibility that your sons have one of the more unpopular forms of diabetes such as ketosis prone diabetes which looks and acts much like type 1 but can be managed without insulin with a low carb diet?

It is unlikely. KPD is usually found in African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minority ethnic groups of non-European descent. These patients are usually obese, have a strong family history of diabetes, and, most importantly, are characterized by DKA at time of diagnosis. Our boys have none of those markers, and they were not in DKA at time of diagnosis.

Most doctors out there say there is no type 1 diabetes cure. People who are taught that and who hear your story probably feel confused and very skeptical. What can you say about this?

Their reaction is understandable on many levels. I think two keys motivate that confusion. First the word cure is a very nebulous term that carries a lot of different meanings with it – probably as many meanings as there are diabetics. We do not use the word cure. We think the term remission is a better fit. Even so, I think a lot of type 1 diabetics would be very happy with the results we have had if it were the same for them. In fact, they might even use the word cure.

When insulin was discovered and the first people began injecting it, insulin was called a diabetes cure. Were they wrong? Yes, but to those living at that time, insulin injections were far superior to the alternatives they had. So much so that it was a practical cure for them.

Secondly, mainstream medicine places very little value on nutrition and its impact on type 1 diabetes. In fact most people are told at time of diagnosis, just as we were told that diet will make no difference. They are told to eat whatever they want and just cover it with the right amount of insulin. This is wrong on so many levels it would require pages to address. This approach sets up the type 1 diabetic for early onset of more health complications, lowers their nutritional quality of life, makes blood sugar management more difficult, is inconsistent with research, and decreases the chances of protecting remaining beta cells (Autopsies on type 1 diabetics reveal that the majority still have at least some functioning beta cells). With all the research into finding a way to regenerate or replicate beta cells, it seems we ought to do all we can to preserve what we have.

We have found that naturopathic doctors are well ahead of standard care doctors when it comes to a more holistic approach to treating diabetes that gets at root causes instead of just treating symptoms. Their support has been very instrumental in our continuing efforts and success.

Is this Alkaline diet that your boys are on also a low carb diet?

Yes and no. Compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD) the answer is yes. If you mean carbs as most people understand them (cookies, cake, candy, bread, rice, potatoes, the answer is still yes. However, if you mean in a strict definition of carbohydrates, then the answer is no. In fact, we had a typical two week meal plan analyzed and found out that the average daily carbohydrate intake was 196 grams! 121 of those grams were fiber, so the net carbs were 75 grams.

We have found that it is more important to focus on the type of carbs you are eating than the amount. Both are important, but making sure you are eating what we call “Right Carbs” is more important. “Right Carbs” are those carbohydrates that are alkaline-forming, high in fiber, low in sugar content, and high in anti-oxidants.

Do you think this way of eating has to be implemented early on in order to work?

What do you mean by “work”?

It is true that the earlier in the disease progression you begin the better are your chances for more dramatic results. However, we believe most people, no matter where they are in disease progression can experience at least some benefit. We have a woman who has been type 1 for over 35 years who started the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle about 6 months ago who has now had her best two A1c results in her entire life as a diabetic. I would say that is an indication the lifestyle is “working.” Does she still take insulin? Yes, although the amount is reduced.

We tell people that the goal should not be getting off insulin, although that is a nice side benefit for some of us! The goal should be excellent blood sugar management in the healthiest way possible. So with that goal in mind, we think the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle works beautifully! Results vary from person to person, but we believe the lifestyle is the healthiest way to manage diabetes. Even our kids that are not diabetic feel better on the diet!

I would imagine that word about what you both have done would spread like wild fire and doctors everywhere would attempt to screen children for signs of early type 1 diabetes in development and then quickly start them on this diet. How come this hasn’t happened?

There is an old expression that says, ‘the first one through the wall gets the bloodiest.’ While we are certainly not the first, we are close enough to it to reap the consequences of being well outside standard care practices and opinions.

In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweiss discovered that hand washing by medical students and doctors before they treated obstetrical patients would reduce dramatically the incidence of maternal deaths. Although hugely successful; Semmelweis’ discovery directly conflicted with the beliefs of science and medicine in his time. His colleagues and other medical professionals refused to accept his findings. The continued criticism and lash out finally broke him down. By 1865, he was suffering from depression, forgetfulness and other neural complaints and was eventually committed to an asylum.

We hope we have a more pleasant outcome, but we are just happy to help those who are willing to listen to alternative methods of managing and treating type 1 diabetes.

We also find a lot of research supports the nutritional components of the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle and very little that detracts from it. After all, the foundation of this lifestyle is just healthy food – how can you go wrong?

Do you think education and awareness about what you’ve done should spread in order to help save lives?

Absolutely!

Why isn’t the information you share in your business free?

For nearly three years we helped people as time would allow and did not charge anything. At that time, I was working at my former place of employment. Now that we are doing this full time, we have the opportunity to help more people, a nice array of products and services to offer, and time to keep developing better services. We really have a desire to help as many people as we can, but we do still need to put food (healthy food!) on the table for our children.

We do extensive research, provide free correspondence, write many articles and reports and offer many recipes on our website all for free. However there is a lot of administrative work that goes into keeping a web site running and offering products and services.

We get asked this question fairly often, but I wonder if the same would be asked of health care professionals, or even of the author of a book with information that could potentially save lives? The unfortunate reality of life is we all have to make a living. We feel blessed to be able to help people while trying to do so.

Can anyone with type 1 benefit from your services and information?

Yes. We believe the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle we have implemented can be beneficial for anyone with type 1 diabetes. It can also be of great benefit to pre-diabetics and type 2 diabetics – we work with them as well. Since we are showing people how to live what we believe to be a healthier lifestyle, virtually anybody can benefit from our services. But our goal and passion is to teach type 1 diabetics how to better manage this disease for long term health and sustainability.

It is interesting that many of the organ-specific autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Lupus, autoimmune thyroid disease, all have special diets associated with them that seem to help manage or reverse symptoms. The diets are similar, in many ways to the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle. It is also interesting that people with type 1 diabetes also have higher incidence rates of these other organ-specific autoimmune diseases. If lifestyle and dietary change make a difference with those autoimmune diseases, it stands to reason that that the same may be true for type 1 diabetes.

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Dan and Sally, thank you so much for taking the time to answer those questions and speak to me over the phone.

To readers, thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’re feeling a pang of jealousy as I had initially, understand this is due to the amount of suffering we have endured at the hands of type 1 diabetes. I felt at ease once I realized that perhaps we can learn really valuable information here. The way I see it, if a hand full of children and adults can benefit from this information and approach, I consider this priceless.

We are so quick and willing to spread myth busting information about diabetes. What about being open to information that might be used to help some people with diabetes? What about those who are in the early stages of developing it? I think that not spreading hopeful information like this to those willing to try it is a shame. This doesn’t mean anyone judges anyone for not being willing to try it or sacrifice certain foods. It’s a personal decision that should be respected. However, having access to information and opportunity is something we all deserve. The chance to decide for ourselves how we go about tackling our diabetes is essential.

To learn more about the information and guidance they offer, please go to their website:

HealtheSolutions.com

The Greatest Lesson my Parents Taught Me

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My parents have taught me many things.  This is from my perspective as to what has been the most valuable lesson for me.  Now that I’m a parent do I even begin to understand things from my childhood.  Some issue will arise with my children and I’ll think back and go “Oh…I get it now”.  And only now do I really get what I would call their greatest lesson as a married couple.

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Let me tell you a little about my parents.

My mom is the kind of person that will tell it like it is.  She stood up for me when my teacher picked on me while another parent might have avoided confrontation (I was embarrassed, relieved, and proud all at once).  Everyone I know likes being around her.  She’s energetic, bubbly, and fun loving.  People are always surprised that I’m her daughter and not her sister because she looks at least 10 years younger than she is.  My mom loves a party or social gathering.  It’s why I didn’t just have a father daughter dance at my wedding, I danced a samba with my mom, too.  She rarely loses at board games.  She always is ready to spring into action.  She has five grandchildren and I swear she has more energy than me when taking care of them.  She raised two children with type 1 diabetes and was the main pancreas for us both.  I don’t remember her getting emotional or upset over what we had to deal with.  She just did what needed to be done and continued to live life.  I know inside she suffered but I don’t remember seeing it.  I can recall her frustration when managing Ana’s low and my high all at once, as well as the needs of our three other siblings who needed her attention.  But overall her attitude of “you and Ana can do anything with diabetes and still be healthy” always reigned.  So I continued to play sports and do the things I enjoyed, regardless of how much more challenging diabetes made it all.  My mom was in the stands ready with water, juice, glucose tablets, our meters, all while chatting up parents and cheering on the game.  She helped us live as normal a childhood as was possible and looking back, I am really appreciative of that gift.

My dad is in many ways my mom’s polar opposite.  While my friend’s dads were drinking a beer and watching football on TV (nothing wrong with that) my dad was spending time with us.  He often talked to us kids about science, philosophy, religion, politics, health-heck every possible subject in the world, aside from gossip and small talk.  I don’t recall one instance in my entire life where my dad went out with friends or coworkers without his family.  He was with us or he was working, period.  I thought that was normal until I got older and realized that there were many dads out there who did very different.  I grew up thinking that everyone’s dad played the guitar for them before they went to bed and that everybody’s dad had taught themselves to play the piano.  Ana and I have a few favorite songs we share and they are original piano compositions by our dad.  My dad is our family’s moral compass.  He’s like a visionary, too, observing and looking ahead.  He taught us to do right by others and to dream big.  A family friend once aptly stated that if she was going to a party she’d call my mom and if she was on her deathbed, she’d call my dad.  Despite all his deep thinking and seriousness, I think my dad can be quite the character.  He worries for everyone and their wellbeing and takes his responsibilities seriously but sometimes he’ll break out with a random joke or do something utterly spontaneous.  When I was pregnant, I went to my parents house one day for lunch.  As my dad opened the grill to get it ready he basically freaked out over this:

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He was genuinely angry at the birds (a hilarious stark contrast to the normally very concerned citizen of nature so this was a huge surprise to us all) and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

He managed our diabetes from a less intensive point.  He made charts and graphs and helped point out trends he noticed.  My dad was often the one to notice when Ana or I didn’t seem like ourselves.  My mom is naturally more hands on and did our shots and finger pricks and carb counts until we took those over.  My dad, a little further removed, was able to see the bigger picture.  He also served as the more emotionally available parent which is as valuable as anything else.  My mom pushed her emotions aside and reserved all her energy.  Anytime I needed something I’d automatically say “mom!”  I still do that and instead of call my parent’s house, I call my mom’s cell without even thinking about it.  I can’t imagine how much more difficult things would have been with my diabetes without either one of my parents.  I think Ana would agree.

My point of all this is that no parent of a child with diabetes has to be be able to do it all.  Together, parents and even family and friends can use their skills and areas of interest to help a child with diabetes make their way through childhood.  I think Ana and I were very lucky to have two very different people working together to meet so many of our needs.

Now that I’m a parent, I try to accept which roles I play in my children’s lives and try not to feel bad about what I can’t do or don’t do well.  I can accept that I’m the nerdy mom that is a bit of a control freak and is always thinking about everyone’s wellbeing.  I think it’s great that Alex is so different from me.  Every time one of us is struggling with the kids, the other takes over and is more equipped to handle the situation, thus saving the day.  I never want to be jealous of how Alex seems to usually be the fun, cool, and relaxed parent because when someone needs water or food or seems to have a belly ache, I am the usually the first to notice and that’s certainly valuable, too.

I hope that when my parents think back on the jobs they did with Ana and I and our other three siblings, they’ll see their short comings were simply an opportunity for the other parent to step in and to show us what teamwork is all about.  In fact, I like to think that’s their greatest lesson to us- teamwork.  I hope you both know you did a great job.  Thank you so much.

Locked Out

November 2011 189

My kid’s are almost two and a half now.  They’re more mischievous every day.  For the most part I like that fact because since we stay home all day, most days, well, we need some entertainment.  That’s why we dance around to this and this, move the mattresses from their beds to the living room to do “gymnastics”, and have messy tea parties will real milk and cookies.  Sometimes though, things happen and I’m once again reminded of how people with diabetes really need to be extra prepared than the rest of the population.

Saturday, I was changing Aurora in the kid’s bedroom while Henri was busy in the living room with a Lego tower.  I finish up and head out when I realize the door is locked.  Henri has pushed the lock on the other side of the door and locked his sister and I in their bedroom.  I have just given insulin for breakfast, am in a nightgown, the apartment maintenance crew is out for the day, and Alex is at work.  I don’t have my phone or usual glucose tablets on me, either.

I start knocking on the door, praying Henri hasn’t gotten into trouble when I hear him giggling on the other side.  “Henriii…unlock this door please!  Push the button, baby, please!”  More giggling.  He knocks on the door playfully and runs away.  Then he comes back and knocks again, giggles, and runs away.  I hear him jumping on the couch, having all kinds of fun.  Aurora figures out what’s going on and the drama queen falls on the floor crying, her hand over her forehead like a damsel in distress.  Oh no, she’s like her mom.  “Aurora, it’s ok, your brother is going to open the door-Henriiii open the door! Push the button, Henri, push the button!”

This goes on for thirty minutes and finally, Henri unlocks the door.  I rush out and chug 16 ounces of apple juice.  Aurora and Henri embrace.  They don’t like to be separated.  I don’t like that I was so vulnerable.  The lock has been switched out and Alex has shown me how to pick it.  Next time, I’ll be prepared.  Because I’m sure there will be a next time.

 

November 2011 272

Wordless Wednesday

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Ok so my version of Wordless Wednesdays isn’t so wordless.  But it’s shorter than the usual post.

I just read an article in last month’s National Geographic about Teenage Brains.  By using modern technology they’ve discovered that the teenage brain is not fully formed and this serves as an explanation to the often bewildering and parent maddening behavior.

What does this have to do with diabetes?  Well, the article states the brain’s development is completed in the mid-20s and the fact that before this the brain is incomplete and this has a direct impact on decision making skills.

How many of us struggled most with our diabetes during our teenage years and early 20s?  I did.  For those of us who grew up with diabetes, I think we owe ourselves forgiveness.  Trying to survive, day to day, with such a complicated and relentless disease without even having the proper mental maturity to do so 100% of the time?  That’s actually amazing.  For those of you with children with diabetes, this article really is a great read.  I definitely needed my parents to help me with my diabetes when I was a teenager and to stay connected and to catch my sneaky ways and notice when I was taking a crazy risk and I don’t think I’m the only one.  (And I was a kid everyone thought was responsible and “together”)

This may not be the most uplifting of news but the article puts a very positive spin on it and helps us appreciate all the wonderful things about young people and gives a few tips on how to help.

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