Welcome?

If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cowboys & Horse Whisperers & Barbara Andersen, PhD





Last week I read Typecast: Amazing People Overcoming the Chronic Disease of Type 1 Diabetes. I appreciated this book for many reasons. Mostly because it highlights a few people dealing with Type 1 - some have it, some are caretakers, others are in the healthcare industry helping patients - and it focusses on how attitude can overcome the negative around the disease.

The author, Andrew Deutscher, is a caretaker of a Type 1 child like me, so I could relate to a lot of what he wrote. So much in fact, that early on in the book he could have taken the thoughts right out of my head. They are of course his own, but I often think similar things, and I am sure other caretakers do too.

It is a focus on attitude, which we know is pretty much the secret to overcoming adversity - diabetes included. How we choose to deal with a situation will give us strength, and also affect the outcome of the situation.

All of the examples were inspiring, but the one I appreciated the most was a discussion about Barbara Anderson, PhD, an Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She has worked at all the leading diabetic institutions in the US, and in 2003, won the American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator award. I am sure she has since won many more.

I so appreciated her views on how medical teams should deal with diabetic patients. In short, the message was to work as a team and focus on the process. Do not beat patients up on the outcomes. This is what I was getting at in an earlier blog post, but could not articulate it as well.

The discussion cited parents and doctors who really gave their children or patients a hard time for a "bad" A1C number, but this is not the answer to helping them. Focus on the process is key. Diabetes is a chronic thing that we live with daily, so just defining it by one number - even though an indicator of three months - will only leave the patient feeling negative about their care.

She compares it to horse whispering when she addresses the ADA in 2003, the year of her recognition I mention. I find this approach to be so true, and realize those doctors that I have "clicked" with, are those that are focussed on the process with me.

Earlier in diagnosis when we were back to Houston for a check up, my son's A1C was not where I wanted it to be. Although it could have been much worse, I was so disappointed in this number. We (I) had been working so hard. Day after day. Sleepless night after sleepless night. Our endocrinologist there (who I should really call my mentor in navigating this disease) basically told me well, it didn't work out the way you wanted it this time, so what can we improve to make it better next time?

I was floored by this response. There was no shame, no ridicule. But why should there be? No amount of ridicule would change the past. The only thing left to do was to work with them to fine tune ratios and settings and work toward the future.

I guess the lesson I learned is if we fall off the horse, the best thing we can do is try to get back on, or keep trying to work with it and "join up" as described in Dr. Andersen's speech.

Today, in 2003, we have learned that it is by listening to and respecting our patients' agendas and by being open to our patients' language that we can come to adjust our most fundamental tools - our words, minds, and our hearts - to create a more meaningful "joining up" with our patients.

To read the full address, click here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Continuing Connections...

Diabetes Blog Week came to a close yesterday.  I could not participate in every topic, but I did read entries everyday. I am amazed at the talented writers, and amount of experience out there in the DOC.

So while I could not post last night - I want to close out this topic for sure, because this is what it is all about.  Connecting - the "very first inspiration for DBW... and that is the most important reason it is held every year".

So a special THANK YOU to Karen Graffeo at Bitter-Sweet for organizing this every year. What a great way to get people connected at an even deeper level. Who says technology is not personable and lacks that warm fuzzy feeling? Ha!

There are hundreds of great entries to read and learn from.  I will continue to read after this week for sure. A few highlights for me this time were:

Yoga for Diabetes. Once upon a time I had a great yoga practice. It really did make a difference with how I dealt with life and remembering to breath. I often say that diabetes is a zen disease that keeps one in the present. Yoga for Diabetes was a good reminder that I should also find my zen in other more "conventional" ways. Rachel Zinman is very open and honest in her writing - and also has some beautiful images in her blog too.

I love Sarah's blog Coffee & Insulin for many reasons. Her posts are funny, she writes beautifully and she combines her love of travel into her blog. Which just makes so much sense! I am a caretaker of diabetes, but I always see the roles of traveler-photographer and diabetic caretaker separate. What her writing and blog illustrated to me was that these are not separate things. Diabetes is part of our life. Like it or not, it is there everywhere we go.

This was my second year to participate in Blog Week, and I am sorry to see it go. While my work week was incredibly long, my time with the DOC passed quickly. Fortunately we can log on and find each other at any time of day. I look forward to a continued connection with and learning from you all.

And having said that I must go. My son just said those three magic words to me "I feel low".


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Favorites & Motivations

Today's topic in Diabetes Blog Week is Favorites & Motivations. I'm not sure my posts are of the motivating kind. My son is pretty darn motivating. He motivates me every day by how he deals with diabetes.

My posts are more about sharing, and wanting to make a difference. If anything resonates with anyone out there in a similar situation, then I am happy it helped.

Favorites. Now that is a loaded word.

I have two. Depending on your mood - if you want a good laugh, go with There Will Be QuestionsIf you want something a little more serious, and wish to read about the day my attitude change toward diabetes, then go to Perspective.

Perspective was the first post I ever wrote here. I wrote it some time before I started this blog. Even editing it several years later was quite an emotional task. Telling the story takes me back to that place. How unfair life is. How we are so lucky. That was the day I decided to look diabetes in the eyes. It was still quite early on in our diagnosis, which was good, but it was the day that changed my attitude. It did not make my learning curve any easier, but it often reminded me to suck it up.

There Will Be Questions are some of my "favorite" questions and reactions I have had about my sons diabetes. It was inspired by a parent that questioned if our lovely old cat caught her diabetes from my son. I kid you not. I can't really elaborate much more about it, because even though it was almost one year ago, I am still a little amused and speechless.

As for the cat, she is on insulin. One shot a day. I feel it could be better managed, but the vet keeps telling me "in cats it is different". I am still not so sure, but even though Type 2, what a great educational tool.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Foods on Friday!

I'm a little behind on Diabetes Blog Week due to a hectic week at work, so let me jump to today's topic - food.  Most people love food, and Type 1 does not necessarily mean we avoid certain foods.

Our secret - we do not feed our Type 1 child any different than if he were not diabetic. Why is that? Well, we cover carbs with insulin, but we try to eat healthy. Sure we are moderate and not rigid in this, but we promote healthy choices whenever possible and avoid processed foods or fads that are oversold as healthy.

Of course there were challenges when my son was diagnosed at 20 months old. Getting enough carbs in a toddler when they are being picky can be tough. We survived those years, and were still able to promote healthy eating. If he didn't get enough carbs, fortunately, we were able to top him up with a little apple sauce or something else.

Now that he is seven, we are still promoting healthy eating and he gets it most of the time. If he wants the one off treat or "unhealthy" choice, then so be it. He will have to learn to eventually navigate his food choices and manage his blood sugar as a result, so I rather we learn that while he is young so he has an idea as he gets older and manages it.

A typical school day might consist of:

Breakfast - nothing with refined sugars. That will only make his blood sugar spike like crazy. I have no proof, but I swear those cereals geared toward children are evil - even the organic kids cereals are full of sugar! So something moderate like Cheerios or CornFlakes, toast, homemade pancakes, and eggs are included in that sometimes. It just depends on our mood.

Snacks: (which we do twice a day) can be many things, but usually focus on a fruit and/or vegetable, yogurt, cheese or whatever else sounds good. We like to cook and bake, so while we do buy bars and things like this, we often have our homemade versions of cookies or banana bread on hand.

Lunch: Used to be hot like chicken and rice, but because the school only gives 20 minutes for lunch, I have started to pack healthy sandwiches or wraps. My son is already loosing social time going to the health office to get his finger checked.

Dinner: We usually grill some kind of protein and then have a carb like pasta or rice and a vegetable. For pastas, we use various kinds of flours - everything from spelt to vegetable.

So it isn't that revealing or exciting. No myths busted, or secret recipes. Diabetes is so complex to take care of, and food is a large part of that. For us, following our usual principals of healthy eating is still our best practice to deal with it.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Things I don't talk about...

I am more or less an open book. Of course I do not share my deepest, darkest secrets but I do share my general experience as a Type 1 caretaker, or my son's experiences at a high level as to not invade his privacy.

What I don't share much are the challenges we face with the general public, or acquaintances (unless asked by a close friend, or for a discussion with other Type 1s).  I am not ashamed or anything, I just think there are some things that I do not need to go into with certain parties.


So why a blog? Ya, I know. Not sharing? 

I recently read an article about someone that started a blog about a professional career and they feared that it would be seen as "self-serving". I've yet to see a diabetic blog fall into that category for me.

I started this blog because I know I was pretty lost as most of us are when we first start this fight. And with a background in healthcare management and this diabetes thing looking at me in the face, I felt I had to share what I have learned. Even if it only helps one person, then so be it.

So while I share with the DOC, and those who follow this, there are some things I do not typically share with the non-diabetic public. Just a few examples are:

- The challenges of being sick. I may vent or seek input on a private diabetic forum, but I do not post it on my wall for the world to see. I might blog about it later if there was a lesson in it for me, but I do not want to create real-time rubber necking opportunities
- Our journey of learning that life is not fair
- Our wish that we were not diabetic
- How scary it is to have to administer glucogen
- The mountains of needles and other supplies we go through
- The knee jerk reaction in my head to questions like if my cat caught diabetes from my son
- The many sleepless nights
- My newly found OCD tendencies as I work and try to think like a pancreas - man is that organ one control freak
- I hold my breath a lot when checking a blood sugar. Even now using it as an indicator, I still hold my breath. 
- And if the blood sugar has been too high for a while and we are looking for it to decrease, those few seconds in the meter seem like days.
- The real reason why I love and need coffee
- My confusion about which pump to upgrade to
- Those odd times I wake up in the middle of the night just because and sure enough my son was way too low
- That I don't leave the house without a bag of supplies, and often I just wish we could travel lightly, or with nothing at all
- I had to bribe my son to try a new insertion site location, and even then it is still so upsetting that does not even interest him.

These are just a few for the sake of example.. there are many more, and there will be new ones popping up all the time. 

But, I won't share them.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Can't - The 4-Letter Word


Today the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week kicks off. Last year about this time I was debating on really kicking off my blog. I then found out about Blog Week and it gave me the kick-start I needed to write this blog. So in addition to that kick, it opened up a whole new world otherwise known as the DOC, Diabetic Online Community to me. If you are new to diabetes, have a look at some of the entries. There are some real inspirations out there.

And today's topic is an inspirational one. "I can".  While there are many things we can do, and diabetes does not stop us, I want to share an experience I wrote about last year. Although it happened some time ago, I still feel very strongly about this subject.

About a year or two after diagnosis, my son once told me that he could not do something. He said "I can't".  I do not even remember exactly what it was he couldn't do, but all of my hair stood up on end. I basically explained to him that this is not a word we use.  

And it wasn't just one of those "we don't use that word" sentences and be done with it. My point had a very long life. I'm not sure if he got it at that time, and in all fairness to him he was just being a whiny three year old that day, as you do. But "can't"?! It is a 4-letter word. We don't "can't". We "try".

I emphasized the word so much at another time when he was frustrated putting together the cute little car track he had, from that day on, those tracks were fondly known as "tries".
 I'm not a pushy parent that has visions of my child being a concert pianist, World Cup football hero, olympic swimmer or otherwise. I am not a perfectionist. But this diabetes thing makes me very afraid of that word.

I strive for is a child that is healthy and happy and overcomes his diabetes daily to live a normal, full and healthy life. If he becomes a super hero along the way, so be it. He CAN do and be whatever he wants to be.

One of my biggest fears is if he somehow found diabetes as an excuse to stop trying.  We do not create an environment for that to happen, or refer to diabetes as a crutch.  And it is not.  There is no reason why diabetes should stop someone from trying a new activity or following his or her dreams.  

I know this is a concern a lot of parents have when their child is newly diagnosed. What about the future?  Can my child be normal? I am here to tell you, yes you CAN.
 There are times when an activity may seem tricky due to diabetes.  A discussion on scuba diving once got me thinking about it.

Careful discussion and planning with your educated doctor (i.e. endocrinologist) and diabetes team is what you should do before you just decide, "I can't".
Do your research and find other diabetics that "can" and "did".  There is a lot to learn from their experiences. 
While Wikipedia is not always considered the best source of truth, here is a list of a few Type 1 Diabetics who didn't say "I can't" to get you started.