Friday, July 22, 2016

Another Year, Same Magic

Airport Buddies
 In the beginning of July I attended my 2nd CWD Friends For Life Conference. After last year's incredible experience, I wondered if the magic could be recreated a second year. Would I feel the same joy? Would I learn as much? Would I make meaningful connections? All those doubts were erased the moment I arrived at my airport gate to board my flight. Sitting there was a FFL, Mike. From then on, I knew I was in for another amazing trip.
    This year, I was lucky enough to make some sweet friends through the DOC (Diabetes Online community) and meeting them in person was like reconnecting with old pals that you have known for 10 years. The connections with FFls is an instant bond. We all "get it" and knowing that makes it so much easier to be yourself. By the end of first night, I found myself cracking jokes and watching fireworks on a hotel balcony with friends I had met for the first time just a few hours earlier.
   Besides, the instant friendships and wonderful camaraderie, the educational value and emotional support available at the conference is top notch. The keynote speaker this year was the magnificent Dr. Ed Damiano. I was once again blown away with the technology he and his team at Beta Bionics continue to come up with. The progress that has been made with the bihormonal bionic pancreas, iLet, is incredible. The freedom and precision this device will offer people living with T1D is incredible and I am excited to see it come on the market as early as 2018!
   Like last year, my favorite sessions were the open ended discussions among fellow T1Ds about topics such as complications and diabetes burnout. I am able to learn so much through the experiences of those who have lived the D-life for much longer than I have. Scott, Kerri, and Sean do amazing job leading these discussions keeping the mood light and filled with laughter.
    This conference is so much more than I could ever write about in a blog post. It's the ease of having all foods carb counted. It's a feeling of togetherness. It's the amazing people, both those with green bracelets (T1Ds) and orange bracelets (those who love someone with T1D). After you experience this, you will never be the same again and I wish everyone with T1D could attend this conference at least once in their lifetime. Special thanks to the Diabetes Scholars Foundation for once again making this trip possible for me!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The other half of Diabetes

        This week I am participating in the 7th annual Diabetes Blog Week. Each day there is a designated prompt that is meant to advocate about the different issues surrounding diabetes. Today's topic is mental healthWe think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?
      When I was diagnosed with T1D, I was completely focused on the physical aspects of the condition. Learning to carb count and bolus using insulin injections, along with correcting for sporadic highs and lows  took up all of my time. I honestly didn't have the time or the energy to worry at that point. But as time went on and caring for my diabetes became more 'normal', the mental and emotional effects became more obvious and really take their toll.
    Now, 5.5 years in this journey I can honestly say that mental component of the condition is 100% more difficult than the physical aspects. Each day is filled with different emotions. Some days, I am just sad and do not want to get out of bed because all the extra tasks I must complete everyday. I miss the days when I did not have to worry about these things. But on other days I feel unstoppable and want to prove to everyone that people with T1D can do anything they set their minds to. 
   What I struggle with most is anxiety. Anxiety about highs and lows, bad A1Cs, and everything in between. Much of this anxiety stems from my Christmas eve incident when I went unconscious while sleeping due to a low bg of 33. Sometimes I lay in bed paralyzed with fear of it happening again, causing me not to sleep. Using a Dexcom cgm has helped me catch the lows and also removed the magnitude of my fear, yet it is always there is some capacity. In the future, I have dreams of getting a Diabetic Alert Dog to put me even more at ease. 
   Interacting with others with T1D has been another beneficial way for me to realize I am never alone in this crazy life with D. The online community has helped me from the start as I began to discover blogs and videos of others. Traveling to the CWD Friends for Life conference was also a big break through as I was able to actually meet and interact with others and knowing that their are others living the same life is indescribable and allows any fears to melt away. 
  A tip I would give to anyone that is living with T1D or any other chronic illness is to give yourself Permission to Miss Out (PTMO). If you are having a rough day and do not feel like doing anything but hiding in bed and watching Netflix that is ok. I am not saying it is acceptable to do this every single day, but every once in a while it is important to step back and take a breath. We are not super heroes and cannot be expected to do everything all the time. Managing Diabetes is a never ending job and a very tiring one. So, it is natural to need extra rest at times. And tomorrow is always a new day to go and conquer the world :) 
  My experiences with diabetes have led me realize just how much mental health plays into the lives of those living with Type 1 Diabetes and other chronic illnesses. That has sparked my interest in mental health counseling and I am very excited to begin my graduate studies this August, I am excited to begin this new journey and help others living with T1D learn ways to cope with the ups and downs of this disease and make the most of every moment! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

T1D Looks like...

Type 1 Diabetes looks like family. 
T1D does not only effect the person with the condition but also their loved ones. During the first few months after my diagnosis, I remember how on edge my mom was. She was worried about my numbers, cooking proper meals for me, and how I was coping with this new lifestyle. Over the years, the worry has lessened but it will never cease to be there. When times get rough, I know my family is always there to support me in any capacity required.

Type 1 Diabetes looks like highs. 

These highs are not a sign of weakness or that a person is not taking care of himself or herself. The fluctuations are influenced by stress, insulin, activity level, sickness, and a thousand of other random factors that a person living with T1D has no control over.

Type Diabetes looks like supplies. 
Medical supplies are not optional for people with Type 1 Diabetes, they are a requirement to live. In just 1 month a person with T1D checks their blood glucose a minimum of 150 times and takes 120 shots ( or inserts 10 infusion sets if using an insulin pump). That's a minimum of 1,800 FINGER POKES PER YEAR! And these supplies are not cheap. People with T1D struggle constantly to pay for these necessary supplies, even with help from insurance.

Type 1 Diabetes looks like the lows. 
Low blood sugar can occurs when too much insulin is given, meals are skipped, or when one exercises more than usual. Most of the time though, low bg happens randomly at very inconvenient times and for no logical reason. Low blood sugar makes a person feel shaky, dizzy, out of energy, hungry, irritable, and incoherent. Sugar is required to return to a prefered state of being.

Type 1 Diabetes looks like emergency room visits.
When sickness strikes the body of a T1D, it wrecks more havoc than it does a non-diabetic. It is hard enough to deal with the normal flu symptoms but add to that trying to control erratic blood sugars and ketones. In many cases, a trip to the ER is in order to help with dehydration, nausea, and either extreme highs or lows. 

 Type 1 Diabetes looks like friends. 
But when times get tough, friends are always there to pull you through, I am so lucky to have a wonderful group of friends that always support me, some who also happen to live with T1D. They are always there for me to vent to and help me focus on the good of every situation. 

Type 1 Diabetes looks like me. 
It is a part of my life, but it is not all of my life. I am first and foremost a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, and a figure skater who just also happens to have Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes looks like me but it could also look like YOU. Type 1 Diabetes can strike any person regardless of age, lifestyle, body type, and family history. So if you ever suspect it, please do not brush it off as an impossibility and plan a trip to the doctor. Know the warning signs, it could save a life. 

Warning signs of Type 1 Diabetes: 
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination/bedwetting 
  • Nausea/Vomiting 
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy/drowsiness 
  • Itchy skin 
  • Labored breathing 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increased appetite 
  • Sudden vision changes 
  • Fruity odor on breathe 
  • Confusion/unconsciousness 
  • Tingling hands 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy Podding

                 It's so funny how fast life can change. Just over a month ago I was using my medtronic minimed pump and had no immediate plans to switch. Then came the CWD Friends for Life where I was exposed to so much wonderful technology and began to realize that there may be a better way for me to manage my own specific diabetes needs. After returning home I spent hours researching on the internet and settled on the omnipod. Now less than 40 days later, I am all hooked up with my pod and loving it!                                                                       Physically, the minimed pump and the pod perform all the same procedures and successfully deliver lifesaving insulin into my body. But mentally, I feel an enormous shift. I am so free and less constricted with the pods. I feel more like 'Morgan' and less like 'Morgan and Diabetes'. I never realized how much I hated being connected to tubing 24/7 and how self-conscious I was about it. Having the ability to virtually hide the pod under my clothes and forget about the D-monster for a bit is so nice!
               I am only 8 days into my podding adventure, but so far so good. This device has helped me relax and become more at ease which can only help both my physical and emotional health. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Changing Things Up

                I have been using the Medtronic MiniMed Paradigm Pump for almost 4 years now. And from day one, I loved it. I enjoy the freedom it has given me to graze and not take multiple shots to cover this habit. It has made everything so much easier, allowing me to breath and celebrate the little things in life a bit more freely. Of course, there are a few downfalls to pumping including taking it off when exposed to water and having the entire contraption on your body 24/7. But overtime, I became so used to these minor inconveniences that I never thought about the other possible options.
The main influence behind my change to
Omnipod <3 
              Then I went to the CWD FFL conference. My roommate had the Omnipod tubeless pump. I had seen it online before and while I thought it was interesting, I didn't really think it had added benefits that my pump did not have. As the week went on my thoughts began to change as I got to see how the pods worked first hand. I was amazed by how small it really was and how well it could be hidden under clothes if wanted. I never thought bolusing and site changes with my current pump were difficult, but with the pod it is so much more discrete and simple. By the end of the conference, I was pro- Omnipod!
             After returning home from the conference, I intensely research the Omnipod and ways that I may be able to make the switch without upsetting insurance too much ;) I discovered the 'cut the cord' program which allows people already using a pump to switch to the Omnipod with a reasonable out-of-pocket fee. After much consideration, I have decided to go for it. I have nothing to loose, if I dislike the pods I can easily switch back to my current pump.
Pod  & PDM 
            I am ready to try something new. I am optimistic that the Omnipod will relieve some of the stress and amprehension I feel in regards to Diabetes management, which is always a good thing. My Omnipod shipment is  on its way and I couldn't be happier. Hurry up UPS!

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 CWD Friends for Life: Seeing life through new eyes

       I recently returned from my very first Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conference at the happiest place on earth aka Disney world. The magnitude of this incredible experience is still hitting me and I am permanently changed because of it. It was amazing to be in a place where the people all spoke the "language of diabetes", there was a mutual understanding of how precious life is, and the selection of gluten free foods was just as large as the gluten filled variety. At FFL, I felt so at peace
and calm, something that I have rarely felt in the 4 years since my diagnosis. Seeing those green bracelets of belonging made my heart oh so happy (people with diabetes wear green wristbands, supporters wear orange,  and people with celiacs wear yellow). I was meant to be in this wonderful place surrounded by these extraordinary people who will forever be my friends for life.
     I immediately knew that I was in for a life changing week when I went to my eye exam with the expert Dr. Ben and his friendly staff. I got my eyes checked with state of art of the equipment that you will not find anywhere else and my eyes were given a clean bill of health other than spots from drinking too much tap water (time to get a filtered water bottle). During the 3 hour exam, I met a family that I will never ever forget. They are a wonderful family that took me under their wing during the conference. Our first connection was that I had the same pump as their 10 year old son, and I later learned we were diagnosed just 2 weeks apart. The mom was so so sweet to me and was by my side when I had an ugly site rip out during the banquet. When they say CWD is like one big family, they are not kidding.

   I would never have been able to have these experiences without help from the Diabetes Scholars Foundation who made this trip possible for me. At first, I was concerned of finding "my group" among thousands of conference attendees, but that fear was quickly washed away after attending a session run by Sean Oser, Scott Johnson, and the hilarious Kerri Sparling. I met a wonderful group of people my age and I immediately felt at ease with them, just knowing that they were going through similar things and not to mention the diabetes jokes we could share :p. One night at dinner, we all ordered diet cokes and got a strange look from the waitress until M proudly held up his green bracelet and proclaimed, "we all have diabetes, that's why we all ordered diet coke". There is confidence in numbers and us people with diabetes will stick together through thick and thin. When we were at Magic Kingdom and someone had a low, we all sat on the ground together in line until all was well. More often than not, I was the low one and I for the first time I did not feel embarrassed about it because I was surrounded by those who understood. I will never again feel alone on the world of T1D because I now have an extensive support system of people that I can exchange advice with.
   At the end of the week, I walked away with not only new friendships but also HOPE for the future. I was fortunate enough to have attended Dr. Ed Damiano's session discussing his advancements with the Bionic Pancreas project. He introduced his new prototype for the only fully integrated, fully automated bihormonal bionic pancreas called the iLet. This device is set to be released in 2018 and will drastically change the lives of all those living with T1D, as we will no longer need to check our blood sugar or count carbs. Even though it will still require us to wear infusion sets and a CGM, it is a monster step forward and I know that this community can make it happen. I am so blessed to have discovered the CWD community and am already counting down the days until next year's conference. See you soon my friends <3

Sunday, May 17, 2015

D-blog Week 2015- Making Connections

          This week I am participating in the 6th annual Diabetes Blog Week. Each day there is a designated prompt that is meant to advocate about the different issues surrounding diabetes. Today's topic is Continuing Connections.  The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it's held every year.  So let's help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another D-blog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you've found or a new friend you've made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant's List, check it out and share it with us.  Let's take some time today to make new friends.

      This year was the first time I made it through the entire Diabetes Blog week. It is always difficult to find the time to write a blogpost 7 days in a row, but this year I was inspired. Each evening I would read more than 2 dozen blogposts written by T1D peers. Reading their words brought feelings of understanding and hope. I love being a part of the wonderful Diabetes Online Community. 

New Blogs I Discovered: 
  • Heather of Unexpected Blues- Heather's blogposts have a wonderful flow of wisdom combined with a sense of humor that really draws me in. I especially loved her vlog post on day 1 of D-blog week because sometimes you just have to be silly :). 
  • Molly of ASweetLife- I immediately felt connected to this blog because it is so nice to read the thoughts of a blogger who is the same age as me and writes about experiences that are similar to mine.
Longtime Favorites: 
  • Kerri of Six Until Me- Kerri is one of the main reasons why I began blogging. She inspired me from start with how blunt and raw her thoughts are. She has showed me that it is ok to talk about the difficulties of life with T1D and find humor in it every step along the way. 
  • Danica of Diabetic Danica- I love Danica's videos and watching them often cause me to both laugh and cry. She is not only hilarious but also extremely knowledgable. My favorite of her videos created for D-blog week was from day 4 about what should like to change about Diabetes, as I share many of the same thoughts. 
  • Karen of Bitter~Sweet- I would like to thank Karen for once again organizing this amazing event. I cannot imagine how much time and energy this takes. I know we all appreciate her hard work. 
Here are more Continuing Connections - Sunday 5/17 posts.