Thursday 31 March 2011

Spring Cleaning Diabetes Style

Have you ever gone to change an infusion set or give an injection only to discover you are completely out of insulin? And I don't mean that the current vial is empty, I mean totally out - every blood glucose kit, emergency bag, even the extra stash in the produce drawer in the fridge. All of it. Gone.

I usually pride myself on being very organized. It is one of my strengths, though at 8:30pm last night, when I went to change Dylan's infusion set, I suddenly realized that I didn't have even a drop of insulin anywhere in the house. "How much is left in your pump reservoir?" I asked him, thinking maybe we could buy ourselves another night with that, and I could pick up more insulin from the pharmacy in the morning. "3.1 units," he says. Crap, I think to myself, that will last all of what, a few hours? He currently takes about 30 units per day, so 3.1 units right before bed, is simply not an option.

An emergency late-night trip to the pharmacy and we're back in business. Sure it was a little past bedtime at this point, but the alternative is unthinkable.

"How did I let that happen?" I kept asking myself. But I already knew the answer. I've simply been too busy lately and I've let things slide, even something as simple and necessary as reordering prescriptions. So I decided then and there that I would do a complete overhaul on my "diabetes cupboard." You know what cupboard I mean, we all have one, the place in your house that you keep all the supplies - the extra glucose meters, the strips, the pump supplies, the fast-acting sugar. But I highly doubt that most are as disastrous as mine was today!

I started by taking everything out and laying it on the kitchen counter. Wow, it was like a medical supply store threw up in my kitchen; there was stuff everywhere, some of which I didn't even know I had, some of which I had been keeping for far too long. Slowly and surely I went through it all, throwing away 2 expired glucagon shots, 2 expired bottles of ketone strips, and 1 glucose meter that I don't remember ever seeing before, and that we have never had any strips for. There were cans of Glucerna (Dylan drinks them when he's sick) that expired in 2007 (wtf?) and lollipops from Halloweens of years gone by. All in to the trash.

Next I got down to the nitty gritty - the glucose meters, or "kits" as we call them in our house. "How many kits do you think we have in the house right now, Dyl?" I asked him. "I don't know, 6?" he responds." "Ten!" I tell him. Ten! Plus the one in his classroom at school, the one in my car, the one at Grandma's, and probably another half a dozen at his dad's house. How can there be many, and yet sometimes we are hard-pressed to find one? The answer lies not in the number of kits, but in the number of WORKING kits. I opened every one and made sure each had a pricker, extra lancets, and a full bottle of strips. They all did. Then I checked power; only two had battery life, the other eight had dead batteries. Wow.

Finally, I reorganized all the other diabetes related paraphernalia, made a list of all the items I need to reorder, admired my neat orderly cupboard, and wrote a reminder in my calendar to inventory the diabetes supplies on a regular basis, so running out of insulin NEVER happens again.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Delivering on a Promise. Cure Diabetes.

Last summer I, along with 9 other cyclists, had the great pleasure of representing the province of British Columbia in Cyclebetes' 2nd annual cross-Canada relay. As a team, we pedalled almost 1000kms over 5 days. The experience was one that I will never forget and has led me to register to repeat the journey again this summer. What is Cyclebetes and where did it come from? It all stemmed from one man's promise to his daughter. Cure diabetes.
BC Team at the end of our journey in Victoria, BC

(The rest of this blog is taken directly from Cyclebetes' website)

Vancouver businessman Kyle Balagno promised his daughter Taylor he would do everything in his power to help find a cure for her juvenile (type one) diabetes before her 18th birthday. He had 6 years.

"I must have been in a state of pure panic when I first uttered those words to my daughter after she had been diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. If not panic then my love for her must have left me momentarily dazed. How could a guy like me really cure a disease, let alone do it within a 15-year period?

If that wasn't crazy enough, mentioning it to my friends in passing was my next biggest error. One casual comment about my promise and I am thrown so far out of my comfort zone that my head was now actually spinning. Others knew of my dreams for a cure, my wishes for a family life void of pumps and injections, and now I was going to be held accountable to a promise I knew I had stated but wasn't sure I had really made a commitment to."

Kyle Balagno
Founding Rider Team H2V
Father committed to finding a cure.

That commitment spawned Team H2V, a 5 man team who cycled across Canada at break neck speed in September 2007. They made the epic ride in just 8 days, set a Guiness World Record and raised $800,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and millions of media hits.

Where five men once set a standard now thousands will follow. Where five ordinary men proved the extraordinary was possible, new champions conquer their own personal goals; For themselves. For teams. For those with juvenile diabetes.Cyclebetes is a festival of cycling events designed to bring a country, cyclist and the type 1 community together in celebration of what is possible.

"Being involved in events my whole life we knew we had something that could capture the imagination of the masses if we made it about their experience. The spin-a-thon and the relays will allow people to tell their story. It will allow them to deliver on their own promises. Promises that they may have made to themselves. Get fit, help a friend, do something different, become involved in a community and possibly be a part of finding a cure for one of the world's largest diseases. Cyclebetes is about young people being a part of the solution and leading. It is about standing up and removing the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary. Cyclebetes is about making a difference personally and in your community."

Willie Cromack
Team H2V Rider
Cyclebetes CEO/Founder

In 2009, the organization established the cross Canada relay. This ride was similar to the original H2V ride but with a twist...the relay was completed on a tandem bicycle! Each Province had a team of 10 riders, 5 adults and 5 youth with Type 1 Diabetes. The ride on the tandem was a challenge but they all lived up to it and in so doing, managed to raise awareness and funds for diabetes research. This ride was repeated in 2010 and will be repeated again in 2011.

For more information, visit, or follow on Twitter at @cyclebetes, and on facebook at 

Monday 28 March 2011

That was fish, really?

"That was fish, really?" says my 7 year old daughter, who can be a very picky eater at times, and flat out refuses to eat anything from the ocean. But we live on the west coast and have access to such an abundance of seafood. Not to mention, it's so good for our bodies, what with all the omega-3s and protein it contains; plus it's super low-fat.

From time to time, I will be blogging about recipes I've made for my family. Never will I recommend a recipe I haven't already made myself and served to my family and no, I have no affiliation or loyalty to any chef/website/cookbook, etc. I just pick recipes I think look tasty and test them out. If they're good, I might recommend to others, if they're awful, they go in the garbage. Period.

So Saturday night I decided to test out a recipe I've had my eye on for a while: Fish Tacos. I bought the lightest, mildest white fish I could find (Tilapia) and got to work. My kids had no idea what I was making, and rarely do for that matter, unless I'm baking, in which case they love to help.

Results: This was one of the simplest and quickest things I've made in a long time, plus it tasted delicious. Absolutely loaded with fresh ingredients, it's easy, super yummy, and can be made under the broiler in winter or on the grill in summer. But the biggest bonus was that the fish was so mild that my daughter ate 2 tacos, stuffed with toppings, before casually remarking, "It kinda' looks like fish, mum." I waited until she had completely finished her 2nd taco before telling her, with a grin, "that's because it was fish, sweetie." "Hmmm," she says, "it was good." And with that comment, this recipe became a keeper.

Full recipe and nutritional information below.

Fish Tacos
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbsp minced fresh coriander/cilantro
1 green onion, minced
8-12 small corn tortillas
1 lb tilapia fillets or catfish fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Fish: On plate, combine oil, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper; add fish and turn to coat. Place on greased grill; close lid and grill, turning once, until fish flakes easily when tested, about 5 minutes. Alternately, place seasoned fish on greased baking sheet and broil until fish flakes easily, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine carrot, red onion, and lime juice. In separate small bowl, combine sour cream, coriander, and green onion. Break fish into chunks; divide among tortillas. Top with sour cream mixture, carrot mixture, tomato, and avocado.

Nutritional Info Per Serving, based on 4 servings.
Cal 447; Pro 31g; Total fat 17g; Sat fat 4g; Carbs 45g; Fibre 6g; Chol 53mg; Sodium 541mg
Source: Canadian Living Magazine: March 2006

Sunday 27 March 2011

Why I Became Involved with JDRF

This post is taken from a speech that I gave at JDRF's Research Symposium in Vancouver, BC, in 2009. Some data, such as Dylan's age and time wearing a pump, has been updated to reflect current information.

"Hi! I’m Jennifer Aragon and I have been volunteering with JDRF for a few years now. I became involved with JDRF after my son Dylan was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes on November 21st, 2005, just 3 days before his 5th birthday. He is now 10 and has been wearing an insulin pump for the past 3 ½ years. It has changed our life in so many ways, and I don’t know what we’d do without it! Dylan is a great kid; he loves to read and play video games, loves school, plays hockey and does karate. But I think it has been his positive attitude that has kept me so involved with JDRF. He no longer “hopes” for a cure; he knows there will be one in his lifetime and he understands what it will take to find it.

When Dylan was diagnosed, I was told by the hospital staff that my reaction was not the typical one. I never shed a tear, never felt like I, or Dylan, had lost anything. And I never thought, even for a second, that his life would be limited by this disease. Not me - I wanted to fight back, to learn everything I could about type-1 diabetes and be a part of the cure. I needed to be involved, every step of the way. This very quickly led to my getting involved with JDRF, the world’s largest funder of diabetes research. I know there will be a cure and I believe JDRF will be the organization to fund the research that discovers it. They hold themselves accountable for the money spent on research because they are committed to finding a cure. After all, it is an organization founded by parents of type-1 diabetic children and who better to lead the way to a cure than those most connected to the disease and those most passionate about a cure.

JDRF asked me to talk to you tonight about why I walk for diabetes every year, and why you should too. Here are just a few reasons:

i) To raise funds and awareness for JDRF – research is expensive, so if we want a cure we need to help JDRF continue to fund top-notch research.

ii) The walk is fun – there are great informational booths and fun activities for everyone, such as mini golf, massages, face painting, mascots, and tons of free stuff!

iii) Be a part of your community and feel a sense of involvement and self-worth knowing that you’re making a difference!

iv) Experience the event with your family & friends. This is my favorite part of the walk. Over the years “Team Dylan” has grown and grown and we walked with 67 members last year. The pride in Dylan’s face at the start of the walk is an image I will never forget.

v) But the most reason important and memorable reason to walk, especially if you haven’t before, is to meet others and know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. When you experience your first walk you will be absolutely amazed by the number of people there and will realize the collective power that we have to change the face of this disease forever.

Those are the reasons I tell people they should walk every year. Now let me tell you why I walk. When I ask myself that question, I am always presented with the same image – the day Dylan was born. I think of that moment when the nurse put him in my arms and I held him for the very first time. I remember our first eye contact. That moment, be it very brief, felt like an eternity, and I could have lived in that moment forever. It was the moment that every mother is blessed with, when you realize that you love your child beyond all possibility, beyond all measure. And in that moment, your life is changed forever because everything you thought you knew about life, love, and what is important, is called into question and everything you thought you knew about yourself requires self-examination. In that moment the only thing in the world that matters in your child.

As parents we know that in loving our children we must also try to keep them safe. And when I think back to that first moment with Dylan, I know that I certainly never thought that keeping him safe would include safety from the immediate and long-term side effects of type-1 diabetes. But as long as it does, I will continue to walk – year after year after year – and I will never give up until there is a cure. I owe him that.

So I challenge everyone to join us on as we lace up our sneakers and walk to cure type-1 diabetes. Together we CAN find a cure."