Friday, May 1, 2015

Just Ask!

The other day I went out for brunch and to skip all the intimate details, I will go straight to the point.  I had gotten french toast, because I hardly ever treat myself and when I asked for sugar-free syrup and the told me that they didn't have any - I didn't fret, I just knew I would bolus for the regular syrup.   After all I am eating french toast...why not add a few more units of insulin to the mix.  One of the people at my table then told me that I shouldn't be eating what I was eating because I have diabetes. While, I smiled politely and explained that I have insulin (crazy right?) and the insulin will cover the food that I am eating; therefore, within reason I can eat whatever I want... similar to ANY OTHER HUMAN.  The rest of the conversation went pretty much downhill because this person knew more about diabetes than I did and isn't that frustrating!

I know this happens on a daily basis to everyone living with any form of diabetes. I don't really let it bother me, although I am sure this is coming off as it is.  I just am more so baffled that there are so many diabetes experts out there that don't bother to get their MD, like come on! If you're an expert, then surely you should be a doctor and a researcher and an author, and please while you're at it, find the cure!

In a way I want to blanket statement it, I AM HUMAN, I DO HUMAN THINGS.  Like the whole Jenner interview and the conversations that come with that, we are all human and while some of us have limitations or prefer something that isn't the 'norm' then who cares? why do we assume things for others? Why can't I just know, yes maple syrup has lots of sugar, but don't worry I have insulin.   It doesn't matter what others are doing unless it's affecting you directly.

The biggest lesson of this is to just ask. If you're curious, just ask.  Don't assume that someone can or can't do something. Don't assume that someone is okay or someone is unhappy. Don't assume that the person needs help or doesn't need help.  It's so easy to ask questions, "How do you count carbs?" "What is an insulin pump?"  "What does high or low blood sugar mean?"   JUST ASK!


And to answer some of the questions I have gotten in my diabetes lifetime here we go:


"Can you eat that?" Yes, I can eat anything that you can eat. I just have to work my pancreas manually, while yours is automatic.

"What do you feel like when you have low blood sugar?" Everyone can feel different and sometimes it varies for me as well. But usually, I feel shaky, hungry, faint, and I sweat a lot.

"Do you take insulin when you're low or high?" I take insulin 24/7 but that is complicated to explain without hand gestures.  However, when I eat or my blood sugar is high, I take insulin. When my blood sugar is low I eat something.

"Were you born with diabetes?" Not that I know of? I wasn't diagnosed until I was eighteen, but I am type 1. I know, I know the 'juvenile diabetes' wording is confusing.

"Do you wear the pump all the time?"  Yes!  Except when I am showering or swimming, or if I take it off to change and forget it on my bed, go to Walmart, do some shopping then realize I forgot it.   But yes, all the time.

"Do you have the bad kind of diabetes?"Okay, this is one of those questions that I believe comes from the heart, but when it exits the mouth it becomes a hot mess.   I have been asked this countless times, and that's okay, at least it's a question and not a statement.  I don't know what kind of diabetes is bad, all of them? I have all kinds of diabetes.

"Have you had a low blood sugar or high blood sugar before?" Nope, never, I'm perfect. KIDDING. Oh my, when I get this question, I can't help but laugh.  Some people will call it an episode, or go real deep and ask if you've ever been in a coma.   I think those who only know of people with type 2 diabetes, or they are of the older, super old generation, they think high blood sugar is insane, like anything over 12.   So, when you say things like, "my blood sugar was 20!" which is ridiculous but, as a type 1, not insane, old people freak out. (Like my Grandma...)

"Did you get surgery for the pump?" One time I was at the dentist, mouth open with tools plucking at my teeth and the dentist was talking about MY diabetes to the dental assistant.  She said that, "Kayla got surgery for her insulin pump." While I couldn't defend myself, re: mouth. I had to give the death stare through those sweet sunglasses they put on you.


While I know there are many other questions, and like I said, I don't mind. So ask away!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Fret

A lot of people ask me what I want to do and while I am twenty-five and thought by now I would have an answer I am still very vague when it comes to answering that specific question.  I feel as though I've got lucky along the way, getting jobs that I enjoyed and helped me network my way into others.  I did my short time in the fast food industry, I worked at a 24/7 Christmas store and I spent almost three summers changing diapers and singing The Wheels on the Bus at a daycare centre. Now, after finishing university I am working as a nanny for two families.  While nannying isn't my dream career; although I do have a lot of fun with it... I keep asking myself, "Why do I need to pick one thing to be?"

I think we put a lot of pressure on our youth.  Since kindergarten we get asked the same question, "What do you want to be when you're older?" While most of us answered things like the tooth fairy, a mommy or a teacher. Often we changed our minds along the years, so regardless our answers were 'of the moment' not a lifetime. Plus, it's not like because you say you want to be a tooth fairy in kindergarten they're going to start gearing your education towards the tooth industry - just doesn't happen.

So it's incredibly frustrating when I talk to young teens who are struggling with deciding what they want to do. The pressure of what college or university to attend or whether or not to work or take a year off to travel.   Of course the choice to do any of these things doesn't always depend on your 'choice' other things like finances and grades have a say as well, but I think as the 'older generation' including parents alike, should really demonstrate that making that ultimate choice isn't something to stress your heart about.

For me, I took a year off, I spent half the year doing a grade 12 math course; in which I barely passed, therefore it was quite useless to me. For the rest of the year I began working at the daycare, you know the changing diapers, wheels on the bus job.  During that time I decided I would go to college. How did I decide? I was at my grade 12 graduation sitting beside someone who I never had met nor seen before. He told me what college and program he was going into, I checked it out briefly (google) and applied.    I know it sounds like a simple choice and truly it was.  I knew I wanted to go to school, but I didn't fret over what I was going to be, because frankly I knew that I was always just going to be me, and the other things that I gained along the way would become apart of me, not the whole me.

My mindset was completely, 'Let's see where this goes!" and frankly, that's still my attitude.

After finishing the year of college, I decided to do another year. Why? Two reasons, doing one year meant a certificate, doing two years meant a diploma, one sounds better than the other.  Second reason, I could apply to go to Australia for school. Because? Australia.  While I was accepted to Australia I decided not to go, mainly because of two things, money and the 'beautiful by the ocean school,' was actually 'hidden in the woods, middle of nowhere school'  and I am deathly afraid of snakes, if that sentence makes sense.

After that I needed to continue to do something. While I wasn't set on becoming anything in particular, I knew that I wanted to keep moving in a forward direction. So moving back home and going back to diapers (for the children/not myself) wasn't what I wanted to do.  I applied to three universities and was accepted to all three. But I secretly wanted to go to the University that was in the same city as my College.  So I was pleased to be accepted and accepted their offer!

In the three years I changed my major twice.  Why?  Because I realized I had to take math for my first selected major and I wasn't willing to do that...like snakes, I am also deathly afraid of math.   So, I began my English major; which I often admit to people with my head down, as if I am telling them I can't sleep with the lights off.  I truly, choose English because I am good at writing and I enjoy reading, although since we're telling the truth, I hardly read any of my course material, but hey, I have a diploma on my wall....

Now, after graduating from both college and university, six years later, here I am.  No, I am not a doctor or a nurse, a teacher or a engineer, I don't really have a title but the ones that I give myself.  While, I can imagine how nice it would be to be lined right into a career, not having to worry about paying for insulin out of pocket... at the same time I can safely say I am doing okay and I am okay.  I managed to not fret about the big "WHAT AM I GOING TO BE?!" and just focus on being.  That's what it is about...at least for me.

Kayla


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

Lately I have been on a 'health kick' - I am trying my hardest to make it a lifestyle because we all know diets end, kicks quit and life happens.  I want to be a healthy person and in saying that I don't want to feel the weight of bad eating habits, on my body or my mind.  I like the feeling of finishing an hour at the gym, the feeling of fitting into a size six or the feeling of empowerment when someone tells me that, "I look good"  - these are things I like, so why do we sometimes quit feeling good?

I think the issue is that for people (like myself) who do enjoy bad food, and enjoy lounging, switching to a lifestyle of kale shakes and chin ups isn't an easy switch. It takes effort even if we feel awesome after doing such things. I have been living this lifestyle since February 2015, so I am in it for about 3 months... I have lost 10 pounds thus far, went from size 9 to size 6, and I have had much more energy (although some days, not so much).    The other challenge for me is putting as much effort into my diabetes - it doesn't always happen.

For me, making this switch is about making it public. I have to find a way to be accountable and for me that is through instagram and myfitnesspal.  Posting my triumphs, posting my food and keeping track of what I am doing/eating.  Some make fun of those that post gym photos or photos of their dinners; however no one is forcing those photos on others, so I don't see any issues.

Sometimes I think to myself how hard of a battle it is, I think, "Oh if I just lost 10 more pounds..." but when I think about how far I have come, I have to remind myself that I am okay the way that I am today.   

What keeps me motivated isn't just the number going down on the scale or my pants fitting looser, it is the idea that I could inspire others, especially others with diabetes. I wasn't completely overweight to begin with, but I wanted to make a change. With the many obstacles that type 1 diabetes brings an individual, it's easy to use it as an excuse to quit. However, if there is anything I can promote more, is the infamous quote by Dori, "Just Keep Swimming."  It's so important to keep going in any pace or motion.

Kayla

Thursday, April 2, 2015

This isn't 1910

As some people know I work with teens on a weekly basis that live with type 1 diabetes.  A group that I created last July to give back to the diabetes community.  While, the group is small in size, it's large in discussion and passion.  We have spent a great deal of time learning about one another as well as helping one another.

Recently one of the teens brought to my attention an act of discrimination.  After practicing for months for a school play, she has been 'let go' due to her diabetes. Stating that her diabetes (going low) is an issue. I was instantly baffled and wondered a few things, how can a school discriminate in such an obvious manner and since when is diabetes a reason not to do something?

I instantly thought of the numerous diabetics that I know that have accomplished a ton of amazing things while living with diabetes.  I know olympic athletes, dancers, backpackers and actors and not to mention, myself and many others who have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. To say that a diabetic cannot participate in a school play is not only ignorant but ridiculous!  What it says to me is that those that made the choice to terminate her position in the play have taken little to no time to understand her diabetes because if they had, I am sure they would reconsider.

This isn't 1910.  We aren't suffering from our diabetes, we are thriving.  Yes, we go low and yes we go high, but that doesn't mean that we are incapable of managing our diabetes. And what happened to helping out one another, if I happened to go low at a party, I would expect a friend to help. But that doesn't mean I am dependent. If you collapsed of heat exhaustion, I would help you out, I wouldn't tell you that you're too much to handle.

This isn't right. Students living with type 1 diabetes shouldn't be criticized, punished nor ignored because of their diabetes. Clearly someone needs to google type 1 diabetics to see just how successful, talented, and independent we are.

Get with the times!

Kayla

Friday, February 27, 2015

It Is What it Is

Up & out the door early for Dermatologist appointment
So for anyone that knows me, you know that I have hives pretty much every single day and along with that the occasional swelling of half of my lip, my eyes, one finger...etc. I had hives growing up and my mom would try to figure out what it was by taking away certain foods.  I think we first believed it was anything that was red including spaghetti sauce and then we thought it was bananas. Eventually, I started eating those things again and realized it wasn't the trigger.  I haven't had hives every single day of my life, but they do play a pretty prominent role in my health story.

Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had hives for a full year. Basically all of grade twelve I had hives. They were everywhere except for my face. I can remember sometimes they were so itchy it was almost unbearable. I would have to put lots of cream all over my body to prevent myself from itching and at one point I remember the skin being so raw it was disgusting. I hated it. I wore capris when it was warm because the hives on my legs looked awful.   When it went away, I was then getting symptoms of diabetes (I didn't know they were symptoms of diabetes at the time....) I began losing a lot of weight around September 2008 and eventually in March of 2009 I was diagnosed with diabetes and had about every symptom in the book.   No one knows the immediate need to pee unless you've had super high blood sugars - it's awful.

Anyways, I didn't have hives for a couple years and if so, they weren't super memorable.  I got hives in December 2012 because I found out I was allergic to penicillin.  But that doesn't count.   It wasn't until March of last year that I started to get the hives again - full time. The hives were back and not only were hives back but so was my random swelling, something else that I had back in grade 12.

Now, when I had hives before, I was sent to every specialist you can imagine and they mentioned endless amounts of 'diagnosis' ideas, ranging from Rheumatoid Arthritis to Lupus.  So, this time, about a year ago I knew that once I told a medical doctor about my hives I was going to be given the same run around.  Successfully I can say I was right because it's literally been about a year and I still have hives and I have seen another set of specialists including now a haematologist and a dermatologist. They all have different ideas, send me for blood work and come back to tell me I have hives - literarily they say you have urticaria which is a fancy word for 'you have hives.'

I am O.K with this.  I am okay if I just have chronic hives. It's super annoying but after having to go to the haematologist appointment (that scared the crap out of me!) I will make friends with my urticaria. I am lucky because usually my allergy medicine works and I can sense when I am going to get hives or start to swell - I can feel it before it happens.  I also know what triggers hives for me including working out (sometimes) white wine (super sad about that...) and stress (not always).   Even though it's a super vague diagnosis, and after going to a 7:20 a.m appointment (I know right?) only to be told I have hives and then was given a prescription for Reactin (which I already have...) I am going to today just stop worrying about 'what it is' because it just is what it is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You Pick.

Fifty-two days ago I started a weight loss challenge with M. We decided that before our cruise we were going to lose some weight.  He had to lose fifteen pounds and I had to lose ten.  We both have surpassed our goal and have a week left of the challenge. I see it all the time on social media that people with diabetes have a hard time losing weight. I think the biggest concern is stabilizing your blood sugar to try and avoid the sugar spikes.
For me, I wasn't going to focus too much on diabetes. Obviously I was going to take care of my diabetes and take insulin when needed but I wasn't going to make this weight loss about diabetes.  Why?  For me, thinking about losing weight takes a lot of my focus.  I love food. I love bad food mostly.  So, knowing that I was going to have to cut back on the junk/excessive eating was going to take a lot of brain power.  Like I mentioned in earlier blogs, diabetes also takes a lot of brain power even when you don't realize.   So, to add the pressure of trying to have perfect blood sugars was out of the question for the next two months. I was going to try my best, check my blood sugar at least four times a day, take insulin when I ate and treat lows.  It also helped that I have been eating the same foods for the past two months so carb counting has been pretty easy.

I wasn't going to let diabetes be an excuse for not losing weight. It is easy to blame diabetes. "It can't  lose weight because I have diabetes." Well, it may be a challenge but it isn't impossible. In fifty-two days I have lost eleven pounds. Did I work hard? YES! SO HARD! I worked hard but not once did I give up because of my diabetes.  I believe that any challenge is usually encouraged or discouraged by our own minds.

We have the power to accomplish anything - trust me, I climbed the tallest mountain in Africa with zero experience.  When our mind tells us that we cannot do something, we believe it. Likewise, when our mind tells us that we can, we try our hardest to fulfil that belief.  We can be our own worst enemies or our own best friends in any situation whether that is in weight loss, or diabetes.  You pick. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Manage Diabetes When You're Trying to Manage Everything Else

I do everything. I don't sit still. I have lists of things I want to do on paper, on my phone and in my head. I am constantly adding things that aren't necessarily needed to be done, but I would like to accomplish anyway. I sign up for everything, I say yes to everyone. I get overwhelmed when I have too much on my plate but I also get upset when I have too little.  Does this sound like you? Or am I alone on this?

All of this doesn't include managing my diabetes.  I do diabetes on top of all of this.  Not only am I thinking what can I create next? I am also having to count carbs, inject insulin and feel the consequences of my blood sugar (because unless you're superwoman and you're sitting at a nice 5.5 mmol/L all day - I know you're feeling something that isn't 'normal') 

Managing diabetes is HARD! It's so hard. It's not just the blood sugar checks and the insulin - it is everything. So many times I have heard, "checking your blood sugar takes seconds - why is it so hard?" WHY!? Because when I see my friends and family members, they're not having to check their blood sugar, they're not having to inject insulin or sit in front of their food guesstimating the carbs of the casserole - while dealing with diabetes come somewhat natural after a certain length of time - I don't think it ever truly is.  We don't naturally want to do it. Just like it takes some 'umph' to go for a 30 minute workout - it takes some 'umph' to take care of diabetes.

But it isn't just about the diabetes remember. It's that we are busy bees. We are not only living the lives of those who don't have an autoimmune disease, we are also living the lives of a person with an autoimmune disease (if that makes sense...)  Diabetics are normal people who live normal lives. We go to to work, we go to the gym, we join clubs, we attend events, we make dinners, we shop, we attend social gatherings, and we go out to parties.  We are totally normal, we look normal, we act normal, and we are in no way limited by our diabetes. But, we have diabetes. So, while we are doing all those 'normal' things we are also thinking about carbs, about how our body feels, about where to put our insulin pump, about the annoying feeling the pump gives us when it's rubbing against our body. We are thinking about how nice it would feel to eat whatever without consequences. We are counting the carbs, we are measuring the insulin, we are pricking our fingers, we are worrying about if we have packed enough supplies. We are counting our money, checking our balance, figuring out insurance, we are buying supplies that are more expensive than our entire wardrobe. We are second guessing if we took our insulin or not. We are debating on telling people we have diabetes. We are tired but we are managing our diabetes. 

I think like my last post it isn't about being the 'best diabetic in the room' it isn't a competition. It is truly about doing the best you can.   We all manage things in different ways. For example, some of us find working out a great stress reliever, while others find having a nap the best way to relieve stress. Just like diabetes, we find a way to manage is that works for our schedule, our lifestyle and our benefit. People like to judge people for how they choose to manage. But, we have to remember that we all have different things on the go. While I am a busy bee, some not so much - so the way a busy bee manages her diabetes could be completely different from someone who has little on the go.  It isn't about being a good diabetic or not, and it isn't about who manages their diabetes better. There are so many factors involved it's insane to think there is a right and wrong way to go about an autoimmune disease.  

Yes, it takes literally seconds to test your blood sugar - but think about everything else that goes on in those seconds. 

Kayla