Thursday 18 April 2013

Reflections on Boston and Family

Let's face it, I'm not keeping up with HAWMC this month. Today's entry has nothing to do with the prompt for the day, but this is where my head is at right now.

Whether I'm running myself, or a spectator, I love everything about racing. I love the training, the package pick-up fairs, the bibs and medals, the cheering and celebration, and, especially, the atmosphere. There is an air of accomplishment in racing and it doesn't matter if you're racing to place, for a PB, or simply to complete. Everyone is a winner.

Monday morning I woke up and immediately found a website that was broadcasting the Boston Marathon live. Not only is it a huge event, and the pinnacle of marathons in North America (because it's the only marathon that has qualifying times just to enter), but my sister was running it for the first time, and I wanted to watch her cross the finish line!

Flipping back and forth between a site that was updating runners times at every 5k mark, and the live broadcast, I was thrilled to see that she was well on her way to a PB and possibly even a sub-3:00 hour marathon!! But just after the two hours mark, minutes after the male winners crossed the finish line, I lost the feed on the site I was on, and couldn't get it back. 15 minutes later, still nothing, so I headed out for a 40 minute run of my own, knowing I'd be back home before she finished. When I returned, still no live race coverage. Refreshing the stats page every few minutes, I was thrilled to learn that my sister finished the marathon with a time of 2:57:37; a best for her, and an absolutely incredible race time. After bragging in a Facebook group about her awesome achievement, I went on with my day.

About an hour later I received a message from one of the group members I had been boasting to, stating, "Jen, I hope your sister is ok." There was a link attached and upon clicking it, I learned of the horrible aftermath that had occurred mere minutes prior. With my heart in my throat, I knew I had to find out if she was ok. But get this: I don't have a phone number for her. I didn't even know what hotel she was staying in. Why? Because we aren't close. In fact, we barely know each other.

Here's the deal, in mini version. I was adopted as an infant because my parents were teens. They split up, went on with their lives, married other people, and had more children. I grew up in a great home, with terrific parents. I always knew I was adopted, but I knew I had to meet my biological parents. Not because I was unhappy or felt like something was missing, but because I needed to know where I came from. Period. When I met my mother, I was 19. She was 36 with 12 and 14 year old sons. I didn't meet my father until I was 29. He had 4 children, 3 boys who were then 19, 16, and 14. and a 17 year old daughter.

The age difference between my siblings and I is pretty big, and it seemed even bigger when they were teens and I was an adult. When I met my father's children, I already had 3 kids of my own, the oldest of whom was 10. The whole situation was awkward and strange for everyone, and I don't think any of my siblings really understood what was going on, or why I had suddenly intruded into their lives. Is that reason enough to barely know them after so many years? No. As completely overwhelmed as I was trying to assimilate all the new members into some semblance of organization in my head, I should have tried harder to get to know them. I should have made a more concerted effort to find out who they were as individuals, and build relationships with each of them. But I haven't. And I regret it.

So here's what I learned from the Boston marathon bombing, in a nutshell: I love my family more than anything in the world. And life is too short, too precious, and too unpredictable; every day is a gift, and should be lived as if it's our last. My plans for today? Give my husband and each of my children a hug and tell them I love them. And call my sister.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Comments for You

Day 15 Prompt: Comment! Pick someone else’s blog post and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your post for today and link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

As usual, I am behind on my HAWMC posts, but still trying to catch up :) For today's prompt, I chose to comment on a post written by fellow HAWMC diabetes blogger. Sweetly Voiced, written by type 1 advocate Melissa Lee, is a blog I've been following regularly since joining the diabetes blogging world.

After reading Melissa's post It's Cuplicated this morning, I knew this was the post I wanted to comment on for today's (actually yesterday's) prompt...

My comment:
"I love this post because I can so relate to it. Be it type 2, gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes, whatever, each comes with its own set of challenges, and each person's blood glucose level reacts a little bit differently to food, insulin, and exercise. But we ALL react. Just because someone is not dependent on multiple daily insulin injections, does not mean they are any less susceptible to the blood sugar spike after eating the granola bar or ice cream sundae or whatever other high carb, high glycemic index food they are ingesting.

And while advice or feedback from a non-doctor, or non-type 1 may be well intended, until someone has "walked a mile" in type 1 shoes, so to speak, I don't think they really get it. I don't think they CAN get it, no matter how good their intentions."

Monday 8 April 2013

1, 3, and 5 Year Goals

Day 5: What’s your one, three, or five year plan for your Health Activism?

Ask me this 5, or even 3, years ago, and I would've spouted on about the big "C" word, and the importance of raising funds for diabetes research. 2 years ago my focus was almost solely on advocacy. Today, to be honest, it's a mixed bag, but overall, I'm focused on the now.

While I understand that a cure is not in the immediate future, I so still believe with all of my heart that there is one out there, and that the number one barrier to discovering it is money. As a parent of a child with type 1, I can't stop believing in a cure because it's the ultimate goal, the holy grail so to speak. But do I actively seek a cure and tirelessly fund-raise for it? No, not anymore.

And I certainly understand the critical importance and role of advocacy. There are simply too many people who do not receive, or cannot afford, even the most basic of diabetes care, such as insulin and test strips. There are too many children who do not receive government funded insulin pumps, and there are far too many people suffering  the side effects of type 1 diabetes, such as blindness, neuropathy, and kidney problems. Type 1 diabetes is a cripplingly expensive disease and we cannot simply sit back while others struggle. We have the opportunity to be not only a voice, but a gateway between those with information, and those without.

Today, I'm focused on the now. On the present and nothing more. I'm purposefully letting go of the past, and not worrying about the future. I have wasted far too much time and energy stressing over yesterday, and obsessing over a tomorrow that is beyond my control. The present is where I live, and I'm taking care of myself and my family as best I possibly can. I am learning and growing constantly, and teaching my children to do the same. In terms of diabetes, we are focused on day to day care: regular testing, carb counting, daily exercise, consistent sleep patterns. Tomorrow'a A1c, or future complication risk, is not dictated by what we do in the future, it is based on what we do today, and everyday, one day at a time. 

Thursday 4 April 2013

My "Care Page"

Day 4 Prompt: Create a “care page” – a list of your best resources that someone who is newly diagnosed could go to when starting to advocate for themselves or a loved one. 

My initial thought when reading this prompt was to create a list of links to organizations that promote diabetes awareness and raise funds for diabetes-related research. Then I thought maybe I should share a few links to previous posts I've written., You know, our diagnosis story; how I dealt with with my son's diagnosis; how and why I started advocating myself, stuff like that.

But then I really thought about it; about what I would want to know if our diagnosis was today...and the answer was obvious. I would want to know that I wasn't alone. And that I would never ever be alone with diabetes. Because a diabetes diagnosis comes with an open-armed and open-ended invitation to one of the coolest, most welcoming, supportive, and totally awesome communities out there. The DOC really does have all the answers. Have a question? Post a status update on Facebook. Feeling overwhelmed? Send out a tweet. Need a virtual hug? Simply ask, and the response will amaze you.

Diabetes sucks no matter how you tilt your head, but being able to share frustrations, concerns, and day to day dilemmas with others who understand what you're going through is invaluable.

Oh, and if you are looking for links to previous posts, check out:
And visit the websites of your national and regional diabetes organizations. See the "Resources" tab above for a few links to start.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Wordless Wednesday, HAWMC Day 3

Day 3 Prompt: Post a picture that symbolizes your condition and your experiences. 

Seeing as today is a day in which we write hope on our hands to raise awareness for those with type 1 diabetes, here's my hand!

Tuesday 2 April 2013

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Day 2 Prompt: Introduce your condition(s) to other Health Activists. What are 5 things you want them to know about your condition/your activism? 

When people learn that my 12 year old son has type 1 diabetes, the usually make certain assumptions about that the disease is, or where he "got it" from. Sadly, misconceptions are rampant when it comes to type 1 and the volume of incorrect information floating around is abundant. Sometimes it seems easier to tell people what type diabetes IS NOT, rather than what it is. 

It is NOT:
  • caused by eating too much sugar, either as a child or adult, or by sugar at all
  • caused by any lack of care or neglect on the part of a parent or caregiver 
  • a casual disease that comes and goes. It is 24/7/365.
  • a result of being obese or overweight, nor does it have anything to do with weight at all
  • contagious, meaning you can't "catch" it from someone else
  • a disease with diet restrictions. My son can eat chocolate, sweets, starchy foods, and sugar, just like your child (though when eaten in excess it WILL cause cavities, and lead to obesity and other health issues, just like in your child). We just need to balance his carbohydrate intake with insulin.
  • curable.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed, causing the body to stop producing insulin, and blood glucose levels to rise. Without insulin, the body cannot survive, so type 1 diabetes IS fatal if untreated. Fortunately, it is treatable with insulin, which can be delivered either via syringes or subcutaneously using an insulin pump. While insulin therapy is far from a cure for type 1 diabetes, it provides patients with a tool with which they can live a long and healthy life.

It is a disease that never sleeps. It IS manageable, but with vigilance and constant care. Blood glucose levels must be checked throughout the day and night, and insulin must be given multiple times per day to keep blood glucose levels within an ideal range. Variations in blood glucose levels throughout the day are to be expected, but readings outside of the target range (highs and lows) should be treated immediately. Food intake must be closely monitored (carbohydrate intake causes a rise in blood glucose), as do activities that burn carbohydrates, such as exercise. Other factors that can, and do, affect blood glucose, include temperature, stress, illness, and hormones.

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, so utmost attention to diabetes management is critical and lifelong.

Ok, so that's a few more than 5 things. It is what it is.

Monday 1 April 2013


Today marks the first day of the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, otherwise known as HAWMC. Every day for the month of April, I'll be writing from a preset list of topics. Feel free to follow, comment, share, or tweet. And should you wish to write your own posts, you can sign up for HAWMC at and get all 30 prompts. So without further ado, let's get to it!

Day 1 prompt: Why HAWMC? This is our third year of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge – why did you get involved this year? Are you a newbie to #HAWMC or a veteran?

I guess you could say I'm a veteran. This is my second year participating in HAMWC; 2012 was my first year, and I'm pumped to be part of the challenge again. 

Why am I getting involved this year? One word: accountability. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll have noticed that the entries have been few and far between lately. Not only have I been busy, but diabetes has been on the back burner (knock on wood) in our house lately. It's been one of those rare periods in which things just go as they should, without any unusual incidents, or bumps in the road. And I've realized that when things run smoothly, I don't blog as much. Is it that I only write about the problems diabetes brings to our lives? Jeesh, I certainly hope not, but I think I do. Regardless, I think HAWMC is exactly the kick in the butt I need right now to get me back into a consistent blogging schedule.