Monday 26 August 2013

Are You High? (365:10)

Until recently, Dylan didn't experience distinguishable or telltale "signs" when his blood sugar was high. His low blood sugars have always been apparent to him and to me, but highs not so much. Even today, there is really only 1 symptom that accompanies every high.

Walking to the local library recently, we noticed something wasn't quite right with Dyl. He was a bit quieter than usual, and not his lighthearted, cheerful self.

He was focused and deep in concentration; so much so, that he didn't see this sign and proceeded to walk right into it, bonking his head on the bottom. Normally, he would laugh something like this off, and we would laugh along with him. Side-note: I realize it may seem mean to make fun of someone who has just potentially hurt themselves, but Dylan has a very particular sense of humor, plus I knew he wasn't hurt, just caught off guard because he literally didn't see the sign coming.

No, no joking around today. Today he got defensive and bitter, snapping at his sister and I for giggling, accusing us of making fun of him. Totally out of character for him.

I didn't think too much of it at the time. Maybe he was tired, or a little warm (we've had a hot summer and he reacts easily to the heat and humidity). But then on the way home, we crossed a street together, his sister and I turned left to continue down the next street and Dylan kept walking straight. He was headed in a direction that would have taken us further from our destination, and he normally would know this. 

After about 10 yards or so we realized he wasn't with us anymore and called out to him, again chuckling a little. This time he got really mad at us and then it dawned on me.

"Are you high?" I asked him - a legitimate question to a child with type 1, but also a bit of an inside joke between him and I because he's entering high school next week and is very anti teen drug use (again, his sense of humor...).

"I was 10.4 (mmol/l (187 mg/dl)) when we left the house." 

We had been walking for about 15 minutes. Ahhhh, that explains it.

Anyone else experience big mood swings with elevated blood glucose levels?

Friday 23 August 2013

Week in Review, Diabetes Day Camp (365:9)

What a week Dylan had at diabetes day camp at West Van Community Centre. He attended Monday-Thursday and experienced four days loaded with fun activities, great friends, and lots of diabetes education.

Day 1, Dylan arrived, thrilled to discover that he knew a bunch of the kids already from Camp Kakhamela! The group headed to Lighthouse Park for a hike and geocaching lesson, then back to the rec centre for lunch, board games and some diabetes ed.

Lighthouse Park, Day 1
Day 2 they went pitch & putt golfing, where Dylan experienced one of his lowest blood sugars ever. 1.7 mmol/l (30.6 mg/dl)! A full 10-pack of dex later and he was back into normal range, but then a few hours later, at snack, he had dropped to 3.0 mmol/l (54 mg/dl). Honestly, I never would have thought to temp basal for golf, and neither did he. Lesson learned.

Day 3 the group went up Cypress Mountain for an exploratory nature hike and to pick wild blueberries. This time Dylan set a 50% temp basal and ran a little high for the rest of the day, but not too bad. After picking, they returned to the rec centre and made blueberry pancakes with their pickings, practicing carb counting and how to count carbs for an entire recipe, then adjust it to a per serving amount.

Thursday was a food day. They spent the morning at Lonsdale Quay market, exploring the food vendors and talking about healthy food choices. For lunch they selected a food stall for their meal (making sure it was a healthy, balanced lunch) and estimated the carbs in their meal.

Dylan missed today to go camping for the weekend with his dad, but the group ferried to Bowen Island to go kayaking and visit a working bee farm!

Throughout the week, they created a video for newly diagnosed kids, too. Touching on ideas including injection fear, navigating the quarterly clinic and A1c test, and when to start pumping, the video will be shown to newly diagnosed kids to show them they are not alone. Very cool idea.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Diabetes Day Camp at WVCC is Back! (365:8)

Last summer, the North Shore Chronic Disease Services and West Van Community Centre partnered up and ran a 5-day diabetes day camp for 11-15 year old kids with type 1 diabetes in Vancouver. Dylan attended and loved it, and is super excited to be returning again next week for another round!

Funded by Lions Gate Hospital, Medtronic, and Animas, the kids get a fully supervised all-day camp Aug 19-23 (10:00am-5:30pm), all meals and snacks, a daily out-trip, and even some diabetes education. And the cost? Only $100 for the week!

Check out the flyer below for full info, or call NSCDS at 604-984-5752!

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Swimmer's High (365:7)

Swimming is one of Dylan's favorite activities, and he's a great swimmer to boot. But for someone with type 1 diabetes who wears a non-waterproof insulin pump, managing blood sugar while in the water can be a challenge.

We've been lucky in the past and the carb-burning exercise of swimming has always balanced out the lack of insulin. So much so, that on vacations in past years, we've let Dyl disconnect from his pump for 3 to 4 hours at a time, without an increase in bg afterwards. No pre or post swim bolus required - the swimming simply replaced the pump. Easy peasy...

But diabetes, being like Murphy's Law, throws a curve ball when we least expect it. When we think we have it all figured out. When we try to use almost 8 years experience to base a decision today. It shows us that even after something has worked time and time again, it won't necessarily work today.

Between increased insulin needs, the early onset of puberty, a higher body weight, and possibly dozens of other factors, swimming no longer burns enough carbs for Dylan to be disconnected for any length of time. We learned this the hard way yesterday when he hit the pool with friends for an afternoon swim. 

After 3 hours in the pool diving, flipping, swimming, and playing in deep water, he came home with a blood glucose level higher than I've seen in a long time. A whopping 20.6 mmol/l (370 mg/dl)! A big bolus (6.25 units) and a 30 minute wait later, we faced a 24.8 mmol/l bg (446 mg/dl) and a pump telling us Dylan had too much active insulin to bolus further. A manual override of another unit bolused, and another 45 minute wait, and bg was down to 9.6mol/l (173 mg/dl) and still dropping. 2 hours post-swimming we were down to 6.4mmol/l (115 mg/dl) and I finally started breathing normally again.

On days like this, being a d-mom is extra difficult. It's so easy to focus on the negative and worry about the damage that's being done to his heart, kidneys, nerves, or eyes when his blood sugar is high. It's easy to feel like a failure as a parent and a caregiver, for not keeping my son away from harm. It's easy to let diabetes win.

But this 365 project is about staying positive and not allowing diabetes to be all bad all the time. Because like it or not, he will have type 1 diabetes for his entire life, and I don't want him to think of it as a death sentence, a disability, or a hindrance in any way. I don't want him to mope around focusing on how diabetes gets in the way.

I want him to understand that living with type 1 diabetes can be a challenge, but there is absolutely nothing he cannot do. I want him to accept it, to own it, and to know that when bad s*#t happens, we pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and we get ready to take on the next challenge.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Dead Glucagon, or Each One, Teach One? (365:6)

After Dylan returned from camp, I put away his unused diabetes supplies back in the d-cupboard and discovered a box of glucagon tucked behind some infusion sets. My initial reaction of "score!" was quickly subdued when I looked at the bottom of the box and saw an expiry date of November 2012.

In Canada, a box of glucagon costs about $110 without private insurance coverage (luckily we have a very generous insurance provider who covers the cost of virtually all diabetes supplies). Knowing this, it makes me sad to see it expire. Seems like a waste to simply throw it away, especially when there are families who cannot afford to have multiple boxes of this magical reconstitution lying around the house "just in case." It gives me that same kind of guilty feeling I get when have to throw away uneaten food; I wish there was someway I could make it useful.

Moments later I remembered what the diabetes educator had told us in training: never throw away a box of unused glucagon. Use it for practice, or donate it to the hospital and they will use it to teach someone recently diagnosed. In neither case would it be injected for real, but the act of drawing out the water, injecting it into the vial, mixing, and redrawing the solution into a syringe is good practice, and might help avoid the foamy mess I created the first time I ever had to use glucagon in an emergency situation.

Which led to to remember the numerous and horribly frightening times in which we've needed to give Dylan glucagon. Times when it made the difference between life and death; bringing up a dangerously low blood sugar in a matter of minutes. Part of me feels gratitude towards this little box and its capabilities. Another part of me is relieved that glucagon does, in fact, expire in our house now, because it means we didn't need to use it. I can only hope there are many more unused expires boxes in the future.

What do you do with expired glucagon?

Wednesday 7 August 2013

The Go-to Low Treatment (365:5)

Yes, it's chalky, tastes horrible, and leaves a powdery mess on everything it touches, but nothing is more effective at treating Dylan's lows than good ole' Dex. So when Dylan woke up feeling low, after sleeping out in the backyard in a tent with his sister and the neighbors' kids, he did a quick test and self-treated with Dex. That's my rock star!

Um, yeah that's a blood smear on the tester's plastic cover...

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Creek Set (365:4)

Escaping the relentless heat has been a challenge this summer, until Dylan showed us this little spot he had visited with a friend. Located at the mouth of the Seymour River, it's quiet, private, and offers a sandy entry to a slow-moving section of cool clean water. Can you spot the infusion set?

Monday 5 August 2013

Celebration of Light SWAG (365:3)

Saturday night marked this year's finale of Vancouver's Celebration of Light, so we headed downtown to take in the action. A simple trek, however, it is not. With hundreds of thousands of spectators converging into the West End, early arrival is critical to get a decent viewing point. The performance begins at 10:00pm, so we arrived downtown at 8:00pm, parked 2km from the site, and walked the remaining distance. Knowing we'd have to walk 2km back to the car after the show, I was a bit worried about Dylan's bg. He's an active kid, but doesn't usually walk this type of distance late in the evening.

Warning: SWAG'ing ahead: A 20 minute walk at 10min/km will burn approximately 12 carbs, plus playing at the park will burn a few more. Special solution for tonight? A summer treat! We grabbed a box of 4 Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream bars (28g carbs per bar) and each had one. Post walking/firework bg: 8.2mmol/l (147.6mg/dl). I'll take it!!

Pre-fireworks sunset and a shot of the show

Sunday 4 August 2013

August Goals (The Connection Project)

My little connection project is well underway. I've established a focus for August (my spouse) and set up a list of goals that I'll be doing my best to adhere to throughout the month. First off, I should state that there is nothing wrong with the connections I have now. My marriage is doing well, as are the relationships I'll be focusing on in later months. My aim with this project is to build on and strengthen the relationships that are most important in my life; I'll also be developing relationships that are not as established, in later months. So it's not "fixing" per se, but more like "making even better." Time seems to be passing so rapidly, and I want to take a year to get into the practice of being grateful for what I have; to celebrate, enjoy, appreciate, cherish. every day.

I have to admit, I'm really excited about the project. I love trying new things and I know that having daily goals will help keep me accountable. I am a relentless list-maker, and the practice of checking off completed items on a list gives me a sense of satisfaction. While the goals for August are not "new" and are things that really should be practiced daily anyway, by keeping them in the forefront of my mind, I'm hoping to be more aware of their presence and ensure that they happen. So what are the goals for August?
  • Give 1 hug and 1 passionate kiss every day. This is a minimum, it can always be more than 1!
  • Bite my tongue. I have become overly critical of my husband, and I hate it. Even the littlest of criticism I'll be doing to my best to keep to myself, or, even better, spin into a compliment.
  • Ban harsh startup. Anyone that's read John Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, will know what I mean by harsh startup. For those that haven't, harsh startup is essentially beginning a discussion in a negative way - with a criticism, in an accusatory tone, etc. It might be because one partner is angry or frustrated and an issue has been building. Or maybe he/she has simply had a bad day. Regardless of the reason, it virtually guarantees a negative outcome and is a marriage killer. I'm guilty of this practice from time to time and have witnessed its futility. Bye-bye harsh startup.
  • Hold my head high. This one will be tough, but I've been practicing for a while and am getting better and better at it. My hubby is one of those people that will never back down from an argument; he will fight any fight, and hold to his beliefs no matter what. In many ways, this one of the things I love about him. He's passionate, loyal, and will always have my back. He would defend me, or anyone he cares about, to the ends of the earth. But being on the opposing side of that in an argument is beyond frustrating, and in the past I have allowed myself to get wrapped up in an argument with him when I know the best solution is to walk away and resume the conversation when we're both calm and adrenaline has settled.
In addition to the 4 goals above, I'll be focusing on keeping myself in the best condition possible. My relationship with my spouse is strongest when we're both healthy, well rested, and calm. For me, that means getting 7.5-8 hours of sleep every night, exercising daily (with at least 4 cardio sessions a week), eating clean (no grains or processed sugar, lots of protein and fresh fruits and veg), and avoiding alcohol and other potential stressors.

Friday 2 August 2013

Breakfast of Champions (365:2)

One of the breakfasts offered at d-camp this year was a do-it-yourself breakfast wrap and it was a huge hit with Dyl. So much so, that he recreated this camp favorite his first morning back at home. Filled with yummy carb-less foods he loves, the only carbs found in this high-protein meal are those in the tortilla itself (33g of carbs in the flour tortilla he used). And if that's not awesome enough, he made this ALL BY HIMSELF!

His fillings included scrambled eggs, ham, greek yogurt (a healthy alternative to sour cream), salsa verde, and a little cheddar cheese. Definitely bolus-worthy! 

Thursday 1 August 2013

Diabetes Camp Rocks! (365:1)

Diabetes camp can be one of THE most amazing experience for a child with type 1 diabetes. Fully supervised by medical professionals, with trained and knowledgeable staff, it provides an opportunity for d-kids to experience all the activities and fun of residential summer camp in a diabetes-safe environment. Plus it offers the added bonus of introducing kids to other boys and girls with type 1, so they can swap stories, compare histories, voice complaints about d, whatever they want, all to someone else who actually GETS it. Empowerment is the goal here, and camp staff teach and encourage kids to self-manage their diabetes,while fostering a growing sense of independence.

At camp pick up, holding his bag of d-supplies and sporting his new camp toque

This year was Dyl's 5th time at Camp Kakhamela on BC's Sunshine Coast, and his best camp yet. They had flawless weather, he made tons of new friends, and he even learned to sail! Can't wait for next year!

Kakhamela is one of 12 Canadian Diabetes Association overnight camps. For full info, visit

Changes at BSC!

It's no secret I've been absent from this blog for the past few months, with posts being sporadic at best. Well, that is all about to change, as I launch two exciting new projects today!

A Year in the Life of a Child with Type 1 Diabetes
This new project will feature a year's worth of photographs and anecdotes, documenting day to day life with type 1 diabetes. Similar to other "365" projects you might have seen before, different aspects of life with type 1 will be recorded. Each post will emphasize the positive aspects of living with type 1 diabetes, rather than the negative; the focus being a celebration of the things Dylan does WITH diabetes. In our house we don't let diabetes get in the way. Of anything.

I want others to know that this IS a manageable disease. It doesn't have to define you. And that life can still be totally amazing and awesome!

The Connection Project
For lack of a better name, the Connection Project is my own personal journey that I will post on from time to time. I recently read Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project," and was struck by how simple, yet effective, some of her ideas were. I love the idea of choosing an area of life to improve on each month, and then focusing on small, measurable goals, using a check and balance system for follow through. This speaks to my list-making self in so many ways. But while Rubin's purpose was to find more happiness in her life, my purpose will be on building connections and celebrating the people and values in my life that mean the most to me.

While still in the early stages of development, I have a rough idea of what my goals will be each month. The project starts today, August 1st, and this month's goals will all revolve around building connections with my spouse.

I'm super pumped to get underway!