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, November 25, 2015

Much to be Thankful For

In my home country, it is Thanksgiving time. This is typically when family and friends come together to express their gratitude though a carb-loaded meal often coupled with watching American football afterwards.

Gratitude and appreciation are something I place high importance on. We are truly blessed and fortunate for many reasons, and what we have available here to us to help manage my son's Type 1 is definitely something to not take for granted.

As I dropped him at school today for a field trip, I found myself thankful for everything and everyone working toward making sure he can do this and other activities as a non-diabetic primary school child does.

I am so thankful for the help we have that can cover these activities if I cannot go, the nurses in his health office that are always on top of everything at school, his teacher that was ready to carry his entire box of class emergency snacks and supplies on the field trip (although not necessary, but her enthusiasm and pro-activeness says so much), and the cooperation of everyone to make all this happen easily.

This week I met several people who have dedicated their life to diabetes. Other diabetics, caretakers, advocates, physicians, managers and many others who are dedicated to making life better for diabetics. For their time and effort, and the potential of what's to come, I am thankful.

And then of course there is insulin. That in itself is a miracle. Insulin and all the other medical developments that have gone into making it possible to live with diabetes. I am also thankful for those who continue to work diligently to improve what we already have and those with the hope for more.

Thank you...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Amazing Diabetes!

There is a new thing going around on Facebook. Click on some site and it will develop a word cloud of your most used words on Facebook. I don't often participate in these things, but I am a fan of word clouds, and I was too tired this morning to guess for myself what my most used words might be.

It is totally accurate.  The biggest one is Dubai - where I live of course.

Something else struck me as interesting. Despite all the pictures and articles I share about Dubai or moments I have enjoyed, one thing is always there. Diabetes.

Diabetes is there. Right under the word "Amazing", and just before "Today".  Amazing Diabetes is there every Day.

This is very illustrative to my life. Not a day goes by that I don't think about diabetes or do something related to diabetes. If I actually wrote about those in my Facebook status, I am sure that word would be even bigger than Dubai. The subject could consume the whole cloud if I let it.

Moral of my story. Diabetes it is always there. We take it with us everywhere we go - or rather it stalks us to some extent. Sometimes it is a nuisance, but we live with it and manage it best we can. It is along for the ride and not going away anytime soon.

But that is ok. When I look at the rest of the words there, it makes me smile because I hope it means that we are working it into some pretty cool experiences and memories.

Don't let it stop you - just make it part of your word cloud!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Emergency Preparedness...

Today is World Diabetes Day. Why November 14th?

It is the day that Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best and John James Rickard Macleod discovered insulin in 1922. If he were alive today, I would personally seek him out and hug him... Really.

I had a few other subjects in mind for this day, but considering the events that happened in Beirut and Paris yesterday I thought it might be a good time to highlight emergency preparedness for diabetics.

I grew up slightly risk adverse. My father was a risk manager. In my healthcare career I have also worked on risk management programs for hospitals. I am a firm believer in pro-activeness.

While not everything is in our control, we can try to be prepared for the unthinkable. For my diabetic son, I do not take that subject lightly.

I have emergency boxes in every classroom at his school, and his nurses have a plan too. I have small bags of glucose tabs and a few other non perishables within his reach in my car. Those are not full emergency kits as he does not leave the house without a bag that includes additional insulin, glucogen, syringes, juice, water, batteries for his insulin pump, and snacks.

At home, I have an even larger backpack with juice, water, non perishable food, glucogen, flashlights, a small first aid kit, batteries, additional insulin pump supplies and more.

It is horrible to think about the unthinkable. I too wish it would stop. However, emergencies are not only manmade. We should also consider natural disasters. Whenever I read about any emergency, the first thing that comes to my mind are those with chronic diseases - especially Type 1 Diabetics.

On a day that should be about the unity of the blue circle that represents the world coming together to address diabetes, we are unified by grief due to acts of violence. Our condolences to those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

Our Diabetic Emergency Bag. It sits behind the door.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How & When to Advocate?

In case you hadn't noticed, it is Diabetes Awareness month. For many, it is a time to bring more awareness to the disease and advocate for themselves or others. There are many ways to do this, and if you follow me or this page on any social media you will have already seen it. One of my favorite social initiatives this month is by Project Blue November. Their daily "Blue Facts" are a nice, to the point way to share one diabetic fact a day.

At the beginning of the month, I read about an app that puts the blue diabetes circle on a picture. I liked this idea and thought I would use it on an image of my son and upload that as my profile picture for the month.

I chose an image that was a silhouette of him flying a paper airplane. I love that image. It captures everything a boy at that age should be - carefree.

After I watermarked this image with the diabetes blue circle, I felt uncomfortable. The feel of the image had completely changed. By no means are we in denial about anything diabetes related. There is no shame in anything diabetes, or in him as a diabetic. However, at that moment, my son was labeled. I had just labeled him.

The blue circle that is supposed to represent the unity of the global diabetes community response to the disease now symbolized everything that was stolen from him as a result of diabetes - a true carefree childhood. I held off on asking my son if I could use the picture.

I also considered another initiative, "T1D Looks Like Me".  It has caught on and many parents are posting blue images of their children with that phrase on it. There are kids of all ages overcoming diabetes and doing great things. There is even a Type 1 age 70 that participated - he is an inspiration to many. They are all inspirational, but yet because of my feelings about the blue circle picture, I had not yet posted the same.

Although I felt uncomfortable with our image, I thought it could be nice to show my son that there are other children his age living with Type 1. There are three other diabetic children in his school, but seeing so many blue pictures exemplifies the magnitude of how many people are living with this. His first reaction when he saw all the blue hued pictures was, "Where's mine?" I explained to him that I was not sure if he wanted me to post a blue image of him. I wanted to ask him first.

The next day at dinner, we were discussing a boy at school that is overly curious about his pump. My son is very well versed in presenting diabetes, but recently if someone seems overly interested in it, or he is not sure of their motivation, he tells them it is "personal and private". And it is. What goes on with a person's body and health information is exactly that - personal and private. Also, after the playground incident I recently wrote about where he was kicked in the stomach in his insertion site, he is much more selective in how he shares this.

It is his body, his disease. Some people share, others do not. I respect both decisions. I advocate and work with various diabetic groups in our local community, but I do not insist that he do the same. I am sometimes asked by organizers why my son did not join me for certain presentations. If he wants to he can, but I do not feel it is my place to suggest he do this or use him as the face of what I do. As he grows up he will learn more about what is out there, and express or share his diabetes in his own way.

Please note, this post is intended to judgment on anyone that does participate in initiatives that I do not. That is not the intention at all. It is more of a please excuse me if we do not participate, and this is why.

I think it is great to advocate, and if you choose to do so it is most important that it is done in a way that works best for you and your family. In the case of the blue pictures of all the T1s and other images, I thank you for helping my son understand that there are many others out there like him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Helicopter Parent - Oops, I mean the Type 1 Caretaker

According to Google, a "helicopter parent" is a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.

As a Type 1 caretaker, I helicopter. It is what we caretakers do. It is what we have to do. Our child's life depends on it. I believe that most of us wish we didn't have to have the helicopter-like tendencies for the reasons we do.

If a child is diagnosed at an older age, they will take on some of that responsibility sooner, but someone will still have to helicopter to help them navigate this thing. In our case, my son was 20-months old. He is almost eight, so I have been helicoptering for a while now.

And as of late, the most recent popular article quotes a university professor saying that today's behavior, or lack of success in students, is the result of helicopter parenting. Young people lack resilience. I am sure they did not mean helicopter parenting for chronic diseases, but I would still like to have a chat with that person to discuss.

I am lucky my son is at a school where there are competent nurses that can helicopter a bit on my behalf. It does put me at ease for a few hours five days a week. The rest of the time, I am whirling.

I work very hard to ensure my son has a normal lifestyle - as normal as possible. I am not sure how much time I put into coordinating coverage to make sure he is healthy at school, during activities and at home 24 hours a day, but I am pretty sure if we didn't have diabetes in our life it would feel really strange. We do not let it slow us down, but we can't deny we take it with us wherever we go and the prep is thorough.

Last weekend, I was a helicopter once again. I HATE having to helicopter, but I am happy to do whatever it takes to help my son grow up "normally".  

My son took a two day sailing class. At the time of registration we were informed that parents cannot wait on the premises. We are instructed to drop-and-go. 

This is always where I raise my hand to ask questions. And I don't really ask anymore. I politely explain the situation and that I will have to wait and be on call, check blood sugars and administer insulin when needed. I also have to educate them on the signs and what to look out for. 

Most people are usually understanding. It is frustrating when they are not and I have to go into deep details and advocate harder to ensure my child's health is not at risk.  Although most people do not understand diabetes, they are usually understanding and this case was no different.

So last weekend I "camped" out at the sailing club all weekend to check blood sugars and bolus at breaks. We do spend a lot of time together on the weekends, but my typical free time includes catching up on errands, work or cleaning out my guest room that always turns into a holding area for all the items cleaned out of all other rooms earlier in the year. Instead, I brought a book with me and enjoyed sitting by the sea as I read. Something I rarely do.

Not a typical helicopter parenting situation by any means. Although the scenery was beautiful, this is never glamorous. I honestly didn't get too far in the book because I often looked out to sea wondering about my son's blood sugar. 

Blood sugar is not easy to manage in a child in this situation. Distance and water make it challenging. Especially the first time. One never knows what a pancreas should do in a new activity.  And I believe the movement of a boat can make it more difficult for a child to feel a low or high blood sugar.

At least the view made it all a little more bearable, and hopefully learning how to sail and do things like pull up a capsized boat taught my son some resiliency along the way. 

Maybe he will surprise that professor someday...