Friday, April 29, 2016

Travel

I love to travel and any chance I get, I have got my bags packed and I am ready to go. But, it's not always easy travelling with diabetes. There is a lot of pre planning that goes into a trip before I can throw my flip-flops on and head to the beach.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I went on a cruise. Literally a month after diagnosis I was boarding a huge cruise ship with zero to little experience.  I was on needles at that point and hadn't even felt my first low blood sugar. Luckily at the time my uncle who was type 1, was there to assist me and I am forever grateful for him for those first steps.


Cruise 2009 

Clearly, at that point in 2009, I didn't know much about my diabetes let alone how to prepare for travel and diabetes.   Flash forward to now, 2016, I am well rehearsed in diabetes and travel and I without a doubt worry way less than I did back then.  But, all of that confidence takes time and organization.

Now, when I go on a trip, I already have my diabetes travel bag packed. I have an organized travel case that I leave filled for when I am going away. It is honestly one of the best diabetes hacks I can offer for travel.  I am pretty sure it is meant to hold makeup and other toiletries but it makes the most perfect diabetes kit ever.   Once I am home from a trip, I replace what I used and store it away for the next time.  I have my sites, my strips, batteries, reservoirs, you name it, I have it.  Except insulin, because that needs to be refrigerated. 

My diabetes travel bag

Insulin is probably the one thing that I stress about the most when travelling with diabetes.  First is to remember to pack it, countless times I have gone to visit my parents and realized I do not have enough insulin for the weekend.  The other thing is making sure it doesn't break in transport and/or get to warm.  A couple summers ago we went to Disney. My dad picked me up from the airport because I came in later, and I didn't realize we were going straight to the amusement park.  I had all my luggage, including my insulin.  The luggage was fine to stay in our rental, but it was the insulin I was worried about in the humid Florida weather.  Luckily, Disney was amazing and let me store my insulin in their fridge at the medical stand.  But it is times like this where travel and diabetes can be tricky.

My diabetes travel bag

Low supplies is another thing I suck at.  In general, I am not good about  having low supplies at all time. A huge part of the reason is because if I have it around, I will eat it....not when I am low.  But, when I travel, I try and remember to bring snacks with me.  However, sometimes that doesn't work out so well.  Recently on my flight back from California, as we landed I realized I was going low, and my CGM had two arrows down indicating it was dropping fast.  I realized I had eaten all of my snacks on the five hour flight and was left with nothing. I impatiently waited for the slow pokes to grab their baggage and move [something that annoys me even when my blood sugar is good]  I was tempted to take the emergency exit or find that cool looking yellow slide that pops out in emergency landings. 

Going low and travel is it's own post in itself.  Travelling puts you in all kinds of situations you're not normally in. Long waits, sitting for long periods of time, running, walking and getting stressed, there are so many things that can toy with your blood sugar when you're travelling, so I would suggest not being like me, and bring snacks, lots of snacks.

Travelling all over the world is possible with diabetes.  While it takes some planning, over time it becomes second nature.  You know when to tell the TSA guy that you're wearing an insulin pump, you know when to change the time on your insulin pump when there is a time change, and you know what to pack and to pack 10x more supplies than needed.  The only thing that you don't know is how your diabetes is going to be, but that's no surprise. 

Kayla 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Five Food Staples

Since December 2015 I have been consciously trying to eat healthy. I wanted to write my top five staple healthy foods that I have been eating.  I am not a dietician, so in no way do I 100% know if these are top healthy foods or not, these are just some of the staple items I have on hand.


1. All Bran Cereal

Now, I know cereal is a hit or a miss in the eyes of some dieticians.  HOWEVER, this is the only cereal that I have found that does not raise my blood sugar sky high.  I assume it's because of the astronomical amount of fibre.  I find it keeps me full, and keeps my blood sugars pretty stable, in fact I find most days I over-bolus for it.

Source: www.dontbuyherflowers.com

2. Chocolate Almond Milk - Unsweetened

This kind of goes hand in hand with the All Bran, because I put the milk in the cereal. But I also use this for smoothies and baking. There is little sugar in this so it's a good replacement.  I must admit though, the unsweetened almond milk isn't something I would drink on its own - not sweet enough for me!

Source: www.bluediamond.com
3. Royal Gala Apples 

I love apples. Probably one of my favourite fruits besides pineapple. But unlike pineapple, apples don't spike my blood sugar all that much, and fills me up.  I have a huge sweet tooth, in fact I think I have a whole set of sweet teeth, so the apple is perfect to fulfill that craving.


4. Sweet Potatoes 

I am all about the sweet potato, once again doesn't seem to cause to much ruckus with the blood sugars and is fairly filling.  It's a good replacement for the delicious white potato but with less guilt. I probably eat a sweet potato every other day, whether that's sliced into 'chips' and baked or baked whole.  I also love to bake with sweet potatoes!

Source: www.foodb.ca

5. Popcorn

I really love popcorn and always have. Thankfully, the serving size for popcorn is usually generous giving me more of a snack when I am craving.  I usually pick up Farm Boy's popcorn, but really any popcorn will do.



Source: www.farmboy.ca

Kayla

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

'a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a whole lot of guessing'

Lately I have been a lot more active since the weather is getting A LOT better. For anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a winter person.  I rather be on a beach 24/7, but until I can find a job where this is possible, I have to face the winter in lovely Ontario.   But, spring has finally poked it's head and I am happy about that.

Walking for 1.5 hours, resulting in a 3.3 double arrow down blood sugar to treat.

With the warmer weather comes a lot more walking. As a nanny I am fairly active with the children, but especially in the warmer months, we tend to be running around and walking a lot more. With that, comes a whole new ball game of diabetes control.   When my days are fairly standard, diabetes management is a lot easier, not easy, but easier.  However, when my days are unpredictable [which is most of my days] then managing my diabetes can be a complicated puzzle.  

Since I have been wearing my CGM [continuous glucose monitor] I can easily see what is going on with my blood sugar, so if I am on a walk with one of the babies, I can see if I need to treat a low before it plummets to fast, I can also see if it's skyrocketing after treating a low, but all in all it is still a game of 'a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a whole lot of guessing' 

I want to have the best control of my diabetes, not just for my own benefit but for others around me. I don't want to have to slow down or stop because of my diabetes and maybe that is stubborn, but at the same time, I think it's a positive (maybe not realistic) attitude to have.    Everyday is totally different with diabetes and every day isn't going to be a success, but it's always worth the effort. 

Kayla 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Save Time

I have been using CGM on and off for awhile now. I must admit, the CGM has changed my diabetes game.  For those that aren't familiar with CGM it stands for, 'continuous glucose monitoring' and basically it is a separate site that reads the intertissual fluid to give you a glucose reading on your insulin pump. Pretty fascinating and technical.

I find that when I am wearing my CGM, my blood sugar control is 10x better because I can actually see what is going on.  Whereas, if I have to take out my meter and check, I am only seeing snapshots, that being said, most times I do not even want to take out my meter and check.  That is what leads me to saying, CGM has saved me so much time.

Diabetes takes a lot of time, and even though it's in increments of minutes, it adds up. So being able to quickly check how my blood sugar is doing saves me...not only that, but knowing where my blood sugar is headed also saves me time from having to stop what I am doing, I can catch lows before they even happen.

This is an exciting time to live with diabetes because of all of these medical advancements.  It's amazing to see how far we have come in really, a short time.  Anything that saves me time and efforts, I am all for.


Kayla

Monday, April 25, 2016

Invisible

 'Invisible illnesses'  a term used to describe illnesses that are chronic but may not be visible such as depression, ADHD or Asthma.  At the end of September - early October is Invisible Illness Week, and I get that that is not anytime close, but I think that the idea deserves to be recognized all year round, because those of us with invisible illnesses are fighting everyday.   So, this week, today, I decided to talk about it.

I never really thought about the connection of an invisible chronic illness and diabetes.  Often I see copy and paste esque statuses on Facebook that highlight the idea of having an invisible illness but I never thought to relate it to my own situation as a type 1 diabetic.  Living with diabetes I see my disease very well, it is not invisible to me.  I see my insulin pump, my tubing, my sites and CGM, I see the blood on my finger tips and the carbohydrates on the cereal box. I see the numbers from high to low and the blood test strips in my purse and car.  There is lots of visibility going on when living with diabetes.

But, to the public, often no one realizes I have diabetes. Often my insulin pump is tucked neatly in my bra or pocket, my meter is in my bag, along with my strips, and low supplies. I rarely bust out my supplies mid shopping trip or while relaxing on a patio, so to many people I am just your average person living life as normal. What makes diabetes invisible is just that, I can perfectly go about my day without anyone questioning my health. That being said, I could go low or really high and cause a scene, but for the most part, I can linger around town without anyone noticing that I am dealing with diabetes 24/7.

I think that this week that will come around again this fall, the important thing to remember is that everyone is fighting a battle, and to really think twice about making any judgements about anyones life.  I may not look like I am dealing with anything serious, but we all know how serious diabetes is. I am looking forward to this week, to be able to raise even more awareness about invisible illnesses.

Kayla

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mental Health Support

I never realized how tied in mental health and diabetes is until I did some online research.  According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 30% of people living with all forms of diabetes face some type of depressive symptoms. Even though I did not know this statistic before, I can see how it is relevant. When I think about my life with diabetes, I know that there are moments where I feel like I could crack.  It is almost a 'don't think about it too much or else you'll lose it' feeling and I can only assume that many others are feeling the same way.

October 25th 2015 - Aerial Yoga = good for my mental health
 The system isn't flawless. I have never been asked if I wanted to see the social worker at my clinic, in fact I have no idea who my social worker would be.  I am sure that if I asked to see one, I would be directed right away, but the issue is that there are people that do not want to ask, or do not realize they need someone to talk to.

From the Canadian Diabetes Association page on Clinical Practice Guidelines, they have outlined who is most at risk for mental health issues [of those that live with diabetes] see below:

Risk factors for developing depression in individuals with diabetes are as follows:
  • Female gender
  • Adolescents/young adults and older adults
  • Poverty
  • Few social supports
  • Stressful life events
  • Poor glycemic control, particularly with recurrent hypoglycemia
  • Longer duration of diabetes
  •  Presence of long-term complications 


All of this makes clear sense and while I am questioning why I have never been asked if I want someone to talk to, I do wonder what we can do as a community to help those that are suffering with mental illness and diabetes.  I know there isn't a quick fix for this and I am not suggesting that I have the answers. I just wish that there was more than could be done to prevent those living with diabetes from feeling hopeless or alone.   

From the guidelines, I think that I can contribute by trying to create more social supports for the people that I know with diabetes and while that may not prevent mental illness from appearing in patients with diabetes, possibly it could help in making those that are suffering feel stronger and united. 

Kayla 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Not Your Type

I have a hard time when people start throwing around what a type 1 or type 2 diabetic looks like. First of all, no type 1 or type 2 diabetic looks the same. When we put diabetes aside we are all people here.  I recently saw a quote that was set against some pretty flowers with pretty font and at first I was pretty drawn to it, it said something like, 'my diabetes isn't the kind of diabetes you see on T.V' and at first I got really annoyed by it, but then I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but to be honest I am not sure what the author of the quote meant by it.


First, I immediately thought this is type 2 shaming.  I admit, I am quick to tell people that I have type 1 diabetes even though most people have no idea what that means.  Most people when they ask are basically asking, "Did you do this to yourself you poor soul?" and really if they asked me that, then I could simply say,  "NO, no I did not," and walk away. 

The reason I am quick to tell them isn't because I think being associated with type 2's is bad, because frankly, I know some awesome type 2 diabetics, including my wonderful Grandma and Grandpa.  BUT, it's not what I know about diabetes because I know that I know more than the general public when it comes to diabetes.  It is what the media says about diabetes. So, that brings me back to giving that author the benefit of the doubt in saying that the media does NOT do a good job at talking about diabetes.  They make diabetics look obese, elderly, out of shape, useless, a pain in the butt, the list goes on.  When really, we are all awesome . . . okay that's bias.

The poster that I am doubtful about. Source: Unknown


So, if the author of that quote is saying indeed that those living with ANY kind of diabetes, does not represent the type of diabetes on T.V, then perfect.   BUT if the author of the quote is suggesting that the type of diabetes shown on the media is a representation of type 2 diabetes, and therefore, the type of diabetes on T.V is not MY diabetes....then, I don't like the flowery, beautifully designed quote. 

I don't think that any kind of diabetes is properly represented in the media and that's okay, because if Family Guy or the Simpsons gets a kick out of someone needing sugar or eating too much of it, then whatever - that's comedy and we can't get our head caught up in that.    BUT, I don't think that we should say things like, "Well for type 2's that may be true, but type 1 is much different." Okay, they are very different diseases in some aspects, but unless you are in fact a type 2, I don't think it's fair for us type 1's to make any kind of judgement.    

I know healthy, active, young type 2 diabetics that do not deserve to be stereotyped by anyone.   When explaining diabetes to my friends, family, or strangers at the grocery store, I try to give a clear and non-stereotypical explanation of all the different types of diabetes.  It's important that all of those living with diabetes work together, because I believe we can all learn from one another and pitting against each other isn't okay.

Kayla