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.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

D-blog Week 2015- Favorites & Motivations

              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 Favorites and Motivations.  If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don't have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.)

I have been in the blogging world for about 3 years. I was first motivated to begin blogging because I had found such hope in reading the blogs of others and felt inspired to share my perspective of being diagnosed in my late teenage years, Since starting my blog, I have found that I am the most comfortable in writing about my own personal experiences living with Type 1 Diabetes as well as advocating and finding positivity in every situation. 
     My favorite post I have made on this blog was centered on not only T1D but also other chronic illnesses. In this post I asked for no judgment by stating " All of these diseases suck, but all the sufferers I know are so much more than their disease. They are HUMANS, they are FIGHTERS, and they LIVE LIFE WITH NO REGRETS. So please DO NOT JUDGE. Treat everyone with respect because we all live with something that has changed us. An invisible story that makes us who we are”. This blog entry was full of emotion and simply asked for the genreal public not to judge people who live life differently than they do. You can read my full post, An Invisible Story by clicking here

Friday, May 15, 2015

D-blog Week 2015- Crazy Stories


         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 I selected a wildcard topic entitled crazy stories. Diabetes can sure bring some crazy moments.  So tell us your Top 3 craziest D related stories!  If you can't think of three, don't worry.  We're just as happy with one or two . . . .  (Thank you Maria M of My Life: A Long Trip with T1D for this topic). 
Friends for Life <3 
               In my experience, Diabetes has proved to have a way to bring people together for life. The journey to my diagnosis is undoubtedly an example of that. This story started 10 years before I was diagnosed. In 2001, I met this girl, E, at my learn to skate class. We became fast friends and were inseparable during our ice show that year. That summer we both began taking private lessons from the same coach, but I soon realized I did not see E for a few weeks. I was relieved to see her return in the fall. Unbeknownst to me, E was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes that summer at the age of 8. I was introduced to the disease in a very matter of fact way and really thought nothing of it. E simply just had to take a few extra steps in life, but she was no different than me. Over the years I learned so much about insulin pumps, empty reservoirs, carb counting, high and low bgs, and finger pricks during skating practices, competitions, camps, and sleepovers. I always paid close attention to what she did when it came to T1D management and asked many questions. I am sure this annoyed her from time to time ;). Through it all, E & I were the best of friends and got to spend so much time together. Fast forward to the spring of 2010, we were finishing our Junior year of high school and got the devastating news that the ice rink we spent our lives at was getting rid of the skating program. This led to us skating at different rinks and we hardly saw each other.  Then in the early days of 2011, I started experiencing strange symptoms, but E and T1D  never crossed my mind. But that fateful day came, and I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 17. The first phone call my mom made was to E's mom. And before I knew it, E was by my side with me in my hospital bed. I remember that visit we were both pretty quiet which is unusual for us. But really, no words were required. Just having her there made things easier for me. If she could do this, I knew I could too. Knowing that T1D never stopped her from doing anything that she wished gave me the confidence to fight the D- monster head on. I believe that people become friends for a greater purpose, and that holds true in this situation. I am blessed to have her in my life. 

For more of my crazy Diabetes stories, click the links below....
Here are more " Crazy Stories" Wildcard posts.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

D-blog Week 2015- Changes


      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 Changes.  Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

          Something that I would love to see and help change is people's perception of Type 1 Diabetes. This is something that comes up in my everyday life and is a constant discussion with my friends who also live with T1D. I feel like the general public is just genuinely confused and does not understand that there are several different types of Diabetes and there is not just one set of criteria. Recently, I was working my front office job and a friendly lady who came up and asked if I would like her leftover 2 dozen cookies because she had Diabetes and could not eat them. I politely told her I had a gluten allergy and could not eat them and then added that I also had Type 1 Diabetes, just to try and make a connection. She then began to leave and then abruptly turned around and stated, "you are pretty skinny to be diabetic". This statement always stops me in my track. Type 1 Diabetes does not care about your size, how much you exercise, or your eating habits. It comes despite how 'healthy' we may seem. It is like winning the lottery. 
         I would love for there to be more education on this subject. For starters, most commercials for insulin or other Diabetic products are centered around middle-aged and elderly adults who are often over weight. I would love to see an insulin pen commercial centered around a child just to break the barrier and show that this can happen to anyone. I am also committed to helping educate all people in my path that seem interested. The main goal being to show them that no one is safe from this disease. It can come at any age, any BMI, any race. No one is immune, so educating people on the symptoms and such could help save lives. Changing people's perceptions on Diabetes will help every involved. 

Here are more Changes - Thursday 5/14 posts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

D- blog week 2015- Clean it Out


         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 Clean it Out.  Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.) Here are more Clean it Out - Wednesday 5/13 posts.
All clean and organized, until the next emergency site change 
      When I first left the hospital with my T1D diagnosis, my mom was focused on keeping all my stuff organized. So immediately after I was released from the hospital and still in my pajamas, we stopped at our local office supply store to pick up a wheeled 4-drawer storage organizer. All of the drawers were color-coded to house all of my supplies from low treatments (glucose tabs, juice, peanut butter crackers, etc.) to syringes and everything in between. But this system of organization did not last long. Once I moved on from injections to an insulin pump and CGM, all my neatness and organization went out the window. I now own what feels like a lifetime supply of reservoirs and everything is a bit scattered. In the last year, I have committed myself to cleaning it out every 2 months so it has been staying quite organized as of late. My purse is still a disaster zone with about 100 loose used test strips floating around and a couple empty glucose tab containers. Since my purse is my private property and no one has to see it, I don't bother to keep it looking acceptable. At times it just feels like too much to deal with. 

Diabetes is not easy to tame and that is true when it comes to both physical belongings and emotional baggage. After every site change and sensor replacement, I often simply do not feel like properly taking care of all the supplies and they can be left out for several days. This is not because I am a messy person or do not care about my belongings, it's just that sometimes I do not have the energy or will power that day. That leads me to an emotional issue that I struggle with, comparing myself to others that do not have T1D. I find myself jealous of others who must not take all these extra step to complete a simple task such as preparing and eating breakfast. But then I remember that doing these extra things is what keeps me alive and well. I have come to understand that in some instances I must focus on myself and what needs to be done. This does not make me selfish, I am just doing what is necessary to continue to thrive in life. And that involves cleaning out my Diabetic closet every now and then.                                                                                                 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

D-Blog Week 2015 - Keep it to Yourself


      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 Keep it to Yourself.  Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won't tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic). 

     I am a very open book in terms of discussing my life with Type 1 Diabetes online. In fact, I often feel more comfortable having these discussions through blog writing rather than in person. In face to face conversations, I feel self-conscious when talking about my struggles and feel guilty when I complain. But through the Diabetes Online Community I somehow feel protected and safe, knowing that many of those who read my posts 'get it' and lead a life similar to mine.
    In the past, I have shared my A1C online, but I will admit that only happens when I am happy with it. A lot of the time, I only make posts when I am in a good Diabetes mindset. When I am struggling, I shut down and keep to myself. After my scare on Christmas eve, I took a step away from the blogging world. I was experiencing Diabetes burn out and just did not want to talk about anything. Slowly but surely, I am turning things around and am opening back up. In April I applied to a scholarship from the Diabetes Scholars Foundation to attend the 16th annual Friends for Life Children with Diabetes Conference. I found out last week that I was accepted, and I cannot be more thrilled. I am so excited to meet many of the people I know through their blogs and make face-to-face connections with those in the DOC. I am learning that it is ok to share my struggles because that is how we grow and gain strength to continue to the journey with T1D. 

Here are more Keep it to Yourself - Tuesday 5/12 posts.

Monday, May 11, 2015

T1 & T2 are not the same- Differentiating Diabetes

  Living life with T1D is filled of many ups and downs,  physically and emotionally. Fortunately, the good times more than out weigh those difficult moments. The physical aspect of dealing with highs & lows and enduring finger pricks & injections becomes routine. But the emotional turmoil never goes away. I cannot tell you how many times people have come up and told me " you are too skinny to have Diabetes". This statement hurt my heart and builds up the anger inside me because it is so wrong. My size does not in anyway determine if I have Type 1 Diabetes. It is is not the general publics fault, they do not know any better and have not been properly educated on the different types of Diabetes that exist. 
            A dear friend of mine was given an assignment to interview a person who is part of a unique group who lives life differently than the general population for her diverse counseling class. She then asked if I was willing to be her her subject and I immediately agreed because I knew this would be a rare opportunity to share the truth about Type 1 Diabetes. Before beginning the interview and accompanying paper, she submitted a proposal to her professor and was alarmed to receive a concerned response stating that he was not sure that this topic would be appropriate and diverse enough to fit the assignment's purpose. This response just fueled my friend's fire to show this professor just how unique a T1D's life is and clear up any misconceptions he may have concerning Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. The following is her completed essay. 
            For this assignment, I conducted an interview with a 21-year old female college student suffering from Type I Diabetes.  I was interested in getting rid of the stereotypes I personally held when it came to this disease.  I also chose this individual, since I felt that her physical and health status differed to that of the majority of the population.  We hear the name of this disease often, but what is it really like?  I was very interested in seeing how her story could change my views of individuals with this disease.
            Before the interview, I held the preconception that all individuals with Diabetes were overweight.  I was surprised to hear that this particular individual had a BMI in the category of underweight.  You see, she reminded me that there are two types of diabetes.  Unfortunately, many people forget that.  I was really shocked when I heard her describe the differences between the two.  I never thought that having Type I Diabetes could lead to such drastic life changes, compared to Type II Diabetes.  She explained to me how her pancreas neglected to produce insulin on its own.  In a normal/healthy individual, the pancreas will produce insulin whenever carbohydrates or sugar is consumed.  This insulin helps your body to absorb those sugars, ultimately creating energy.  With her type, she needs an insulin pump attached to her body.  In Type II Diabetes, the pancreas produces the insulin; however, the body has trouble figuring out what to do with it.  (Yes, more individuals with Type II are overweight (she said), but healthy diets/lifestyle changes can manage symptoms and also maintain a healthy weight).
            My interviewee was not afraid to tell me that her pancreas was “useless and dead.”  Her pancreas was on the outside of her body for everyone to see.  In other words, her insulin pump is her energizer battery charged pancreas.  I felt uneasy when listening to someone talk, that way, about an organ that is so precious to many.  It really opened my eyes to a world where everyone can see that something is wrong with you.  It also made me think about how I would become sick of people asking me questions about what “that device” is.      
            What I was extremely curious about was what a typical day was like for an individual with Type I Diabetes.  My jaw dropped when I heard about what she has to endure everyday.  She wakes up each day, and the first thing she does is test her blood sugar.  If her levels are too high, then she must give a correction of insulin using her pump.  If her levels are too low, she must calculate the carbs she must eat for breakfast in order to get to a healthy level.  She still has to give an insulin shot in order to regulate the carbs she would eat for breakfast.  2 hours after breakfast, she has to go through the same process.  For lunch, she has to check her blood sugar before eating, and give insulin based on her recorded levels.  2 hours after lunch, she has to go through the same process she went through after breakfast. The same procedures also occur 2 hours after dinner. Bedtime is complicated. If she has a blood sugar below 100 at bedtime, she HAS to eat 15 measured carbohydrates.  Regardless, she still has to wake up at 2 am to check her sugar levels.  So basically, she has to prick her finger 8-10 times per day.  Her insulin pump is attached to her waist.  The long needle device can go through her front side, or lower back.  That needle can stay in for 3 days, and then it must be replaced.  Hearing all of this was quite overwhelming.  My lower stomach and back area stung for her.  Thinking of having to place a needle in that sensitive area, and keep it there 24-7 was unbelievable.  She must eat, sleep, drive, and exercise with that pump, attached to her body through a needle.  Hearing about this part of her life has been quite astonishing to me. 
            After listening to her schedule, I asked something that I was yearning to know.  I felt that her daily schedule was so structured.  I wondered if adhering to this orderly schedule meant no side affects or pain?  At that moment, she shook her head.  She said, “everything affects me.”  The feeling of having a low blood sugar is like having the flu.  She gets shaky, weak, and begins to slur her words.  She told me the most difficult part is eating during a low blood sugar.  Since she is low, she wants to consume sugar quickly so that she will feel normal again.  However, she MUST eat slow to prevent getting a dangerously high blood sugar.  She told me that she once had a blood sugar level of 45, and after eating, she spiked to 350.  350, is a very high blood glucose level.  When she is “high,” she mentions that it is an out of body experience.  She becomes nauseous, jittery, and does not feel present.  The way to naturally lower such a high level is to just start drinking lots of water to get rid of the sugar.  These highs occur 2-3 times per day, and lows 1-2 times each day.   
            I was curious about a crazy or unusual experience this individual could recall while having this disease.  She was only diagnosed when she was 17, so some experiences are still new.  She once traveled to Wisconsin to visit a good friend.  When she arrived there, her insulin pump basically malfunctioned.  It started beeping, (a piercing sound), and would not stop!  Even worse, the pump would not release the needed insulin into her body.  Being out of state, this was quite a scary experience for her.  Insulin pumps are complicated, since it is an actual device specifically designed for Type I diabetics.  My interviewee ended up having to give herself manual shots of insulin for the entire trip.  That is, before and after each meal.  Since those needles are longer than the finger pokers, this means for a more painful injection experience.  This made me a lot less picky when I travel anywhere.  I would always be focused on forgetting something.  However, nothing that I forget could ever compare to having an insulin pump malfunction.  Appreciating things that you don’t realize you have is a major lesson that I learned.   
            I asked my interviewee about the most frustrating part of this illness.  She told me that people’s overall lack of understanding is what frustrates her the most.  She affirmed that many people can show empathy, and she does appreciate their effort.  But she told me that no one really knows unless they have to live with the disease each day.  I thought this was an interesting response since even empathy wasn’t enough to console an individual struggling with this disease.  I was astounded that having that extra attention and support from others just wasn’t sufficient for her.  I, and probably many others, love attention! It was intriguing how I was able to speak with an individual who has a great desire to only blend in with society, or to be seen as average.  It also made me adjust my own thoughts pertaining to the subject of attention.  My interviewee also despises when people make the comment, “I could never give myself shots like that each day!”  This response always makes her blood boil, since she feels that anyone would do it if it meant saving your life.  Everyone would do it if they had to.  Her response to this question made me more aware of any future response I may make, accidentally, to someone that has a problem that I don’t have.  For instance, saying things like “I could never keep my arm in a cast for 6 weeks, or I could never work a minimum wage job while having kids.”  Some of these comments are automatically made when looking in on another’s situation.  My interviewee’s experience made me more accepting of the fact that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do!   
            She also hates when people will question her when she eats sugar.  “Aren’t you not supposed to eat sugar…you’re a diabetic.” She cringes when people ask her that, because she can eat sugar.  In fact, she can eat whatever she wants in moderation.  This story really fixed the preconception I had about diabetics being unable to have sugar.  Also, if I ever come across an individual with an illness that I am not familiar with, I will try to ask them to tell me more about it instead of starting with a question based on a stereotype or preconception.
            In conducting this interview, I learned a lot about myself.  There are several habits that I am now working to eliminate, especially after speaking with this individual.  For example, I am choosing to end all complaining about pains that may only be temporary.  Although I have health issues of my own, there are others who have it worse.  I also learned to focus on what good things I do have, rather than any negatives.  My interviewee told me that no one is immune to Diabetes.  She was diagnosed at 17, and could not express enough gratitude about having a normal childhood at least.  That was inspiring to see.
            I also learned a lot about others.  One major lesson I take away, is never judging a book by its cover.  I used to see diabetes as an illness that is easy to manage.  The insulin pump was the solution.  Yet, there is so much more involved in this disease.  You can go online and read about any kind of illness.  Yet, I learned that not everyone will experience the disease in the same way that it is defined.    
            Overall, I really learned a lot about Diabetes through this interview.  Conducting this session has increased my interest in this health problem as well.  I want to specialize in many areas when I become a licensed counselor.  This interview contributes to my future, since I would now like to add a new specialization to my career goal list. That is, counseling those individuals diagnosed with chronic diseases.  When I begin to work towards continuing education, I will be sure to attend as many classes as I can, pertaining to this topic. 
           This paper was amazing for me to read because it was so accurate. It showed me just how much my friend cares for me and that she is committed to helping rid our society of Type 1 Diabetes misconceptions. The best part was the professor's the response to this essay. 
          Great paper!  To be honest, when you sent me the email about this subject, I wasn’t quite sure about it and whether it would be outside of your comfort zone.  My reaction shows my ignorance of the disease, I think, for I had no idea of all that was involved.  I’m really glad you did the interview and I learned a lot.  Good reflection, too.
         The professor's response to this essay clearly shows a major problem in our society when it comes to Diabetes education. In our society when someone mentions the word 'Diabetes', 9 times out of 10 they are referring to Type 2 Diabetes. So people with Type 1 Diabetes are often automatically placed in this category. This is not a put down to Type 2 Diabetes. The two diseases are completely independent of each other and both deserve to have their own identities. People with these two diseases have their own set of concerns they must deal with and also have a completely different ways of treating their symptoms. One disease is not better or worse than the other, they are just different. We still have a long way to go in teaching our society about the specifics about Type 1 Diabetes, but I know by working together we can educate the world!!!! 
       Please share this article and help us make a difference for all those with Type 1 Diabetes because living with these stereotypes make the disease even more difficult to handle. 

D- Blog Week 2015- I CAN

        This week I will be 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 I can. In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of "I can...”  that participants found wonderfully empowering.  So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren't sure you could?  Or what have you done that you've been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?  (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)

        With a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, there is only one thing I can't do and that is produce insulin on my own. Besides that the possibilities are endless. I can eat sweets, participate in sports, and pursue all the dreams that I had before my diagnosis. One of my best friends who also has T1D taught me from the very beginning of my journey with D that my life did not have to change, just be adjusted. 3 days after my diagnosis, I was back on the ice competing at a figure skating competition. Yes, it was a rough experience and required many extra BG checks, but it was worth it because it showed me that I can definitely handle this and continue doing what I love most. 
     With that being said, living with Type 1 Diabetes is a burden at times. There are some days when you cannot do all that you had planned. Sometimes thing become too much and we must take a step back to rest and revaluate. But the next day we will be be ready to fight again and over come all the obstacles that are placed before us. It takes extra time, patience, planning, and supplies, but it can be done and I will make it happen. 
    Having T1D has shown me that I possess an inner strength that I did not realize I had. I can overcome a high BG without having it ruin my day and give myself injections without wincing. Living with T1D has given me a voice to make a difference in this world and help educate people about a disease that has many misconceptions. I can help others see that people with T1d are tough and there is no stopping us. 
   Four years into my journey with Type 1 Diabetes, I am finally realizing just how blessed I am to have such an amazing group of family and friends by my side through all the highs and lows. Those special people who take time to really learn about what I go through every day and then take the extra step to educate others as well so the string of T1D misconceptions does not continue. T1D does not only affect the person living with the disease, but also those who care about them. Together we can find the bright spots in this disease and embrace all the incredible moments we are given. 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - Philippians 4:13