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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Confronting Your Fears



This week is Spring Break. Who doesn't love Spring Break? Time off to travel to a new place, or maybe just sleep in late to ease into the time off.

While we did wake up later than usual, it was not going to be an easy day. Instead of a fun, carefree day, it was the day that we were scheduled to get my son's annual blood test. And because of this dreaded day and the dreaded needle that draws several milliliters of blood from him, it was long over due - more than a year.

Even though Type 1 children put up with several needles of different kinds daily, the blood draw is often a difficult one for many. Like others, he was quite young at diagnosis, so finding those little veins has been difficult. So difficult that at diagnosis, the neonatal nurse in the hospital struggled to draw blood from his little 20-month old body. Years after that, other phlebotomists and determined physicians also struggled. As a result, his struggle with this has been greater.

This is one situation that stumps me. There is nothing I can really do or say that will make his anxiety go away, or make it easier for him. We just have to do it.

You may ask why. He is already diagnosed. Unfortunately, there are many other diseases that are common in Type 1 Diabetics. Other autoimmune issues happen.

Everyone in the Type 1 world of course hopes the tests come back negative because these kids already have so much to deal with. But it is critical to discover and start treating other chronic conditions early should they occur. Some of those include thyroid conditions, Celiac, Addison's or other diseases.

Being the brave boy that he is, he did it, but it was not easy at all. He sat in my lap and I tried to talk him through it to keep him calm.

There were tears. A lot of tears. He begged God for it to stop.

After it was finished, we talked about it. He even felt that it was not as bad as it had been in the past, and that the phlebotomist who drew the blood did a good job. And of course she was clever enough to not call him a baby for crying as one nurse did in the past. Regardless, we were both beyond relieved that we do not have to do that for another year.

That evening he asked if he could ask me a question. "Of course", I said.

He began... "You know how when you say you try to understand what it is I feel being diabetic?"

"Yes", I said.

"What did you feel while I was getting my blood test?" he asks.

"I was sad", I told him. "I could feel your fear, and I wish it were me instead of you."

He then proceeded to tell me about Muhammad Ali and what he said about fear.

"You can't be brave without fear."

This left me even more speechless than his curiosity about what I felt during that difficult time.

*********************

I looked up the quote to confirm if it was from Ali, and in what context he said it. What an amazing lesson it was about confronting fear.  In his book The Soul of a Butterfly, he talks about confronting fear.

Reading that excerpt, I learned that Muhammad Ali was afraid of flying. He actually thought about passing on the 1960 Italian Olympics because of this. He shared all these scenarios he had in his mind around fear of the plane crashing. He actually thought about not going to the Olympics because of this.

Then he remembered what his father said, " 'Always confront the things you fear'. I realize we are only brave when we have something to loose and we still try. We can't be brave without fear."

If he had given into his fear, he would not have gone to the Olympics, and he would not have won a gold medal, and as he tells the story, perhaps he would not have not have become the heavyweight champion of the world.

*********************

I have nothing really profound to say or reflect on this. My son, this situation and Muhammad Ali's story left me with more than enough. I rarely write anything so personal about how he deals with his diabetes, but I asked for his permission to share this story.

I wanted to share it because it was is a really good lesson that even the strongest and toughest people we admire are afraid of something.

In the end, they win because they face it.

Carry on my diabetic warriors!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Over the last few years it seems that Women's Day has become bigger every year. This year with the political discussions in the West, particularly after the Women's March earlier this year in the US, Women's Day feels like it is getting more attention than ever.

And it should get attention. I don't dismiss the fact that over the years I have watched men get paid more, and women get different treatment. And in some places the world wishes that this would be the least of women's concerns.

This year in the US and in other countries the movement is asking women to take off a day of paid or unpaid labor. "A day without a women" it is called.

At Diapoint ME we are not a political organization. However, this "Day Without Women" has fostered some strong feelings as to why a day without anybody is simply not an option in the diabetic world.

No one gets a diabetic break... ever. Neither the diabetic nor a diabetic's caretakers. The job of the pancreas is 24/7. One day off and the results can be very severe, or even deadly.

Today I woke up as usual and was about to get into the shower. Just before I was about to turn on the water, I heard that famous phrase "Mommy, I feel low".

I ran into my son's room armed with the glucometer and a juice box to be ready if the glucometer confirmed what he was feeling.  And blood sugar at 57, it did.

I was still in my pre-coffee sunrise grogginess at the time to recall it was March 8th. It didn't take long because nothing will shock a parent out of bed like the sound of their child calling for help.

As his blood sugar increased and I continued to get ready, I realized what day it was. If I made the choice to strike from all labor today, who would take care of my son and his diabetes? Who would have treated his hypoglycemia? No one, that's who.

So to all you women (and men) out there who are fighting this thing for yourself or on behalf of someone else, you have a higher calling. You must keep going - whether that be to continue to work to pay for your medical bills and diabetes supplies, or if you are a housewife that is orchestrating everything behind the scenes so that your child can have a somewhat normal social life, or maybe both: You Are Valued and Important. Your contribution is priceless, and it is noticed.

You are what makes this day what it is because you do so much already. You do not have to take off a day of laboring for the world to know that you are awesome and important.

March on beautiful warriors...



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Diabetic Complications In Young People

Today I received notice that a new medical study was published that compares complications in young adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The results surprised me. 

"Teens and young adults with type 2 diabetes develop kidney, nerve and eye diseases - as well as some risk factors for heart disease - more often than their peers with type 1 diabetes in the years shortly after diagnosis"

My son is Type 1, so some may be thinking this might have me feeling better about my son's diabetes as he is "less at risk". 

This doesn't make me feel better at all. It makes me incredibly sad.

Dr. Barbara Linder, one of the authors of the study and a senior advisor for childhood diabetes research at the NIH points out that "there seems to be this assumption that young people will not develop complications from diabetes, but that's just not true."

Participants in the study had complications or were showing the risk of complications by the time they were 21 years old.

Diabetes is hard. You get no break from it. Ever. And it changes almost daily and throws you curve balls all the time. It. Is. Hard.

One of the first things the endocrinologist (who I owe my son's life to for educating me about dealing with this monster) told me is that "Diabetes is a horrible, nagging thing." At the time I thought that was a strange thing to say. "What kind of doctor would say this to a newly diagnosed patient?!" Now I know... an honest doctor, that's who. An honest doctor who is preparing their shocked patient to grab this bull by the horns, that's who.

No matter what age you are, as tired as you are, and as difficult as it seems never ignore or give up on your diabetes. Doing so means you will give up on you.

Dig deep because you have much more to contribute and give to your family, society and to yourself than to settle for this.

Don't settle. Don't ignore it. You can fight this...


To read more about the study visit this NIH link.