Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What does it mean to live with type 1 diabetes?

November is Type 1 Diabetes Awareness month. If you have ever wanted to ask me a question about my cheeky monkey or her Diabetes now is your chance (well... really you can ask anytime...).

It isn't pink or sexy; it doesn't involve boobs, football players, or cute shirts (but we are always open for assistance for our cause).

It's about 2am blood tests, low blood sugars, high blood sugars, counting carbohydrates and giving 4 or 5 needles a day.

It is about the constant surprise of how resilient your daughter is. Of how her positive attitude makes her life seem normal and making her life as normal as possible makes everything you do okay.

There is always the fear of hypoglycaemia. And the need to plan every small activity due to the impacts on blood sugar control. But the rewards are worthwhile. In the short term they can be better moods and in the long term, a healthier life.

Our future will likely include our cheeky monkey learning to cope with not being invited to many sleepovers or play dates because other people may be scared of needles and 2 - 3 hourly blood tests. But that is okay, because we can have them at our home, and not everyone is afraid.

It's about carrying an enormous bag at all times - a complete chemist and food store in your handbag for all emergencies – fortunately big bags are in fashion now! It's about putting up with ignorant people who say things like "you're lucky its only diabetes", "don't you wish you had breastfed her as a baby" or “she isn’t fat?” But it is also remembering that you didn’t always know everything about diabetes, and frankly, wouldn’t that be wonderful to still be the case.

It’s about the heartbreak when your daughter was diagnosed. It’s about watching her sleep at night and hoping that she will wake in the morning. It’s about wishing it was you and not her.

It’s about waiting for a cure...

(Inspired by and partly adapted from Karina Caton and Emma Savage)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

This morning my darling daughter (DD) walked up to me and said “Mum, I need to put on something else”. This in itself would not be a huge issue... except my daughter is two and that this is a daily occurrence.

‘So she has a strong sense of being’, I hear you thinking.

That is quite possibly true as well, however I am scared that she has seen me do the dress-around each morning for so long that she thinks that it is normal to get dressed, wander around for 30mins and then decide that no, this is not the outfit that I will be wearing today. Is it just me? I don’t think it is, but maybe others are better at hiding it from their children.

This of course had me wondering what else she is watching quietly, storing away and going to create a disorder of sorts at some point. Well, ok, a disorder is definitely an exaggeration but you know what I mean. Diet and weight is one thing that has always been a concern for me for both of my children. From birth I was conscious of the importance of what they were fed and of healthy growth. Even trying to do the right thing by what goes in their mouths, there seems to be minefields to walk through. How do you explain the impact of eating too much to a small child? How do you discourage eating something that tastes great? (And why is mummy allowed a chocolate and DD or DS not – and mummy has swum for an hour this morning and done an RPM class really does not cut it with two and five year olds – and yes I know, I simply should not do it around them).

And now that my DD has diabetes, I am even more conscious that her weight will be an issue throughout life – as for everyone, people will judge her because of her weight, but because of her diabetes and the ignorance about the cause, people will judge her more harshly if she is ever even slightly overweight. (Unless of course there is a huge change in focus of the current type 2 diabetes “education” campaigns – but that is another long story).

So almost every day, I talk with my kids about good foods and bad food, get into arguments when they want chocolate, try really hard to not say, “they will make you fat”. But, I am only human, so do slip up (well that is my excuse and I am sticking to it). I also try to add that your brain won’t grow properly...

I try really hard to ensure that when we eat chocolate or ice cream, it is for special occasions. A birthday party, because we climbed Mt Coolum or walked the return trip of Buderim Forest Park. But I know the example I set is more important than what I say or even what I let them do. Do they understand that I get up before 5am most mornings to exercise? And even if they do, what does this mean to them.

So what am I worrying about? I guess what most parents worry about... am I doing a good job? Am I doing the best job I can do.

I just have to have the self belief - yes I am! And when I look at my two happy, healthy kids having fun together, it makes it easy to believe.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The weight of the matter...

I know that it is not “cool” to admit – but I really love watching the Biggest Loser. Years ago, when my darling son (DS) was a baby, I used to sit on a static bike each night watching BL (after eating an ENORMOUS dinner) and ride slowly so that I didn’t get too puffed and miss something. Now that I have for the most part, got my exercise and eating priorities sorted, I record it (it is usually on during our kids bed time) and watch it later that night.
My husband simply cannot understand it. And I have tried to work out what it is for me that is so compelling. Like a lot of the losers, I was once fat and unfit, having previously been very athletic. So I do like to see the transformations, to see the positive shine through from the depression and negativity that had existed and of course to see that the losers are only human and have set backs and breakdowns just like those of us not inside the fitness fishbowl.
I think it is great that BL’s kids will be exposed to a healthier lifestyle once they get home, and that will hopefully realise that sometimes foods are certainly not everyday foods , that takeaway is not normal eating and that vegetables and fruit are essential to all bodies. I am reminded of these behaviours not being a part of a lot of peoples every day when I attend a weight-loss group, now to support a friend, but previously for myself. There are so many women (and sometimes a man or two) who need to be reminded that what you put in needs to be less than what you put out if you want to lose weight. And that the quality of what you put into your body makes a huge difference to your physical and mental well being. I know that I simply could not get up to test my daughters blood during the night, exercise, look after the kids, work part time and keep the house in some sense of order if I had not lost weight and starting looking after myself.
Back to the Biggest Loser, of course, what they are doing is completely unrealistic... they get sad when they lose “only 2 or 3kg” and sob when they lose 1kg. Recently one loser was reprimanded for eating 2 pieces of bread (instead of the one that was allocated in his diet) and this week one of the trainers was excited that one of his team had immunity as it meant that they would actually be able to eat more carbs and protein, which would help their body recover and mean they would be stronger and better able to lose weight in the lead up to the finale. So as I write this, I am reminded why I should not like the show and why it is such a bad example of diet and lifestyle for those who want and need to lose significant amounts of weight.
But I am still planning to watch it tonight...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I know I am lucky...

Today one of my friends had an assumed miscarriage. She will find out for sure on Monday, but right now it is a sad waiting game. My heart breaks for her, as I thought I had had a miscarriage before I had my darling daughter (DD). I remember calling the hospital and them telling me there was nothing they could do (it was on a Sunday for me) and to come in to the clinic the next day. The waiting to go in was mental agony and arriving at an early pregnancy clinic was very hard when you were pretty confident you had lost your baby. Mine turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy, fingers crossed there is nothing complicated for my friend.

So tonight I have been reflecting on this time, and thinking of all that has happened since. Of sitting in the waiting room at the RPA in Sydney on a Monday morning, surrounded by 20 or so other women, most likely having miscarriages for which nothing could be done. Of the tears and the terror, and the tiny bit of hope that it wasn’t really happening. Of the chemotherapy treatment I was lucky enough to be able to have instead of having to lose my tube. Of being able to quickly fall pregnant with DD and having a great pregnancy (I do LOVE being pregnant!). Of how excited my son was to have a baby sister and how lucky we are to still have my daughter with us.

The day that my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes was one that will stay with my husband and I forever. It was the day that we came so very close to losing our darling daughter. My DD was 11 months old and that day I had just had a 2nd interview for a job, which I was offered, and had left DD with my mum. She had been a little off all week. Her breathing had been getting faster and faster and I had become more and more concerned. Other than that though, she had no really apparent symptoms.

When I went to pick my DD up from my mums, her breathing was getting faster than one a second. When I had my son, our paed had always said to panic at a breath a second, so off to the GP we went. When the GP was concerned and unable to diagnose the issue, he sent us straight to the Emergency department at the hospital. We were very lucky that night in so many ways. I was lucky that a nurse that I swim trained with was the head nurse on emergency and rushed us through the triage process. I was lucky that I had her there for me and my family throughout the night... at the time we barely knew each other except to say hello and now she is one of my most trusted friends. We were lucky that there was a locum doctor there who was able to diagnose our DD when the first two doctors who saw her we not able to. We were lucky that she lived when it looked for many hours that she may not. It was terrifying and at the time I made a decision that it did not matter what I had to give up or do, I just wanted her to live. We are so very lucky that she lived and I am lucky every night to be able to hold her in my arms and tell her that I love her. I am lucky that she is in almost every way a healthy, happy, active and cheeky 2 year old.

I am often asked if it is hard to get up so often during the night to test my DD blood glucose levels. Of course it is hard. But there is no question that it is worth it. Seeing my DD get older and become her own person is a reward that is worth endless sleepless nights.

I am lucky.