Category Archives: Family

How to be an ally to someone living with Diabetes

So recently, I decided I had to write more and put it out there to my friends on Facebook: what do you want to know about me and diabetes?

I got amazing answers, to be honest, and although I’d written a lot since I started my blog years ago, there were still a few topics I hadn’t touched.

The first one I chose to write about is important because I’ve faced the complete opposite in situations in my life: How to be supportive, how to be an ally.

Imagine the situation of having to make an added decision about everything you do in a day. Everything is a choice that isn’t a guaranteed positive. This is true for everyone, except our decisions affect a lot more than just our mood in the moment.

Checking blood sugar is the only guide you have. That’s poking your finger, drawing blood and making sure you know where you are in the spectrum at a particular moment in time.

You have to decide what you have to eat and when. You have to keep your emotions in check because, guess what, those affects your blood sugar, too. Everyone has a different opinion on what to do and what to eat. You workout but deciding what to do with your insulin is questionable. How hard do I go? How much insulin to I give myself? You do everything you’re told to do and the numbers still don’t reflect. What do you do now? Cry?

Every day is a different situation. A different “choose your own adventure” story. A different ending just to wake up and do it all over again.

Then, (here it comes) you find that person that tells you that you’ve done this to yourself. You didn’t take care of yourself. You’re doing it wrong. Why can’t you just follow directions? Why can’t you lower your blood sugar? Just count the carbs! Just don’t eat that! Just be happy! And my favorite– you know you can cure that, right?

How would you feel? When every day is dedicated to staying alive, keeping healthy, and calculating your risk on the food you eat, the last thing you need is someone telling you that you’re doing it wrong.

There’s no right answer.

As someone who’s supporting a person living with diabetes, as a friend, ally, significant other, you have to understand the challenges. It’s actually quite easy, judging that you’re a human.

Here are a few things to know and understand. If all people knew and realized this, the world would be a better place.

1. The body is a mystery and a beautiful machine. It’s complicated and everything is connected. Just think about that for a second. Many people with diabetes know and understand this. We know how our bodies work and what’s missing.

2. As a person injecting insulin, we are tasked with thinking like a pancreas. Except we’re not an organ and we go based off of math to make all of our decisions.

3. Don’t tell us what we can and can’t do. Or eat. I bet you $1 million that we’re already 5 steps ahead of you.

4. If our blood sugar is too high or drops too low, we didn’t do it on purpose and it’s not our fault. In any case, DON’T BLAME THE PERSON TRYING TO KEEP THEIR BODY IN BALANCE.

5. Diabetes is hereditary and genetic. Type 1 is autoimmune meaning our bodies attacked the insulin producing cells and they no longer exist. We did nothing to bring it on. Type 2 is also genetic and although you may be healthy, you CAN develop it. Stop telling us that we did this to ourselves.

6. Don’t assume you know how we feel. Please, this can ruin relationships.

Things you CAN do:

1. Make healthier choices for yourself. Seriously. It’s a way to help us and put yourself in our shoes, even if it’s a tiny step.

2. Ask don’t tell. “Do you know why your sugar dropped?” “How do you feel now that you started doing xyz?” “Is that something new you decided to try?” But don’t ask, “can you eat that?Ever.

3. Listen. As much as you can’t see diabetes, it weighs on us like a 2 ton elephant. Sometimes we need to vent because it doesn’t always go our way. Sometimes we’re at a loss for … everything.

4. We can’t “get rid of it.” Understand that every day, month, year, diabetes is going to be there. It’s not the flu, not a cold. It’s a chronic disease that we and you have to live with if you’re around us all the time.

5. We all have hidden demons and issues. Put yourself in our position. Like so many others, we don’t like to be defined by our issues. Stop using the word “diabetic” and do use words like “people with diabetes” or even better, “people living with diabetes.”

Did I miss anything? Any recommendations that you have that you’ve seen work? Anything people have done for you? Leave a note!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Family

#FML: That moment at the airport when you realize you left your insulin in the hotel fridge

Greetings!

Well, this is my week back from my tour of Spain. My family and I went in celebration of my 30th birthday. The big 3-0! Yeah, don’t ask me how I feel about that yet.

We toured the Spanish cities– Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona– and experienced the life of the Spanish, our conquistadores. Regardless, our trip during Semana Santa and were extremely pleased with the entire experience. If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve seen my photos over these past few weeks. Take a look.

My return to Granada was awesome. I remembered  everything as if I was there two years ago, not 10. We sat at the same restaurants we sat at, we drank the same beer I did and were able to hike up the mountain sides. My mom actually made it up to the Mirador de San Nicolas! I was extremely proud of her.

I didn’t want to leave, but alas, after three nights there, we were off to Barcelona to end our trip after another three nights there. We were flying up to Barcelona and had to leave extremely early in the morning. My sister and I packed our things together the night before, took showers, and were set to go. We woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 7am and were out the door and in the cab to the airport by 8.

Everything thus far was going smoothly and we were having a great time.

[If you’re Catholic, you’ll understand the transition.]

It wasn’t until we were in line to check our bags that I realized I had forgotten my three bottles of insulin in the hotel fridge. CRAP! And as I got that knowing look from my mother, and heard my dad ask how I could forget something so important, my stomach dropped. “I can buy it,” I told my mom. “When we get to Barcelona, I can go to the pharmacy.”

wpid-imag1727_1.jpgIt didn’t matter how many times I told myself it was going to be fine, I still felt so guilty. How did I forget it? Was it just a slip of the fact from my memory? Was everything else just too important for me to remember to take the insulin?

Regardless, as soon as I got through security, I told the TSA agent that I had forgotten my insulin at the hotel and if there was any way to call and see what we could arrange to get it back. The Guardia Civil, or the cops, took my mom and I back to the office where they called the hotel for us. We told them what happened and they asked if I could get a later flight or if I could wait to have the insulin by Tuesday.

The officer was reassuring, however, once we got off the phone and told them we would call them back to make arrangements. “She can go to the pharmacy and buy the insulin, that’s not a problem. If they need a prescription, you can go to the ER at the hospital and they’ll write it out for you,” he explained.

I still couldn’t get the thought out of my head; how could I be so stupid? We left and upon arriving in Barcelona, I went to the pharmacy where I could purchase rapid acting insulin pens for $54. When I got back to the hotel, my mother was relieved as were the hotel staff who heard about this accident.

I was saved. I kind of had to McGyver it still. I had a bit of insulin left in my pump (more than 24 hours worth). So what I did was slowed down the basal, which I had to do anyway after all the walking we were doing. I had woken up twice already from blood glucose in the 40s. Any time I would eat anything, I would inject it with the pens I bought.

My mother arranged to have the forgotten bottles sent to us in Barcelona. There were three, so I wasn’t going to leave them behind as wasted medication. And, if you don’t already know, this all worked out.

Waking up on Wednesday, I got a text from my mom saying that they just delivered the insulin and that they had it. Within two hours, I was low on insulin and everything was perfectly timed.

As much as I’d love to fly out the door without thinking about it, this reminded me that I had to– even on vacation. This isn’t the first time I forget something important, but the first time forgetting on an important trip and so much of it, was a first.

After having all the insulin, I wrote a note to myself to remember the insulin in the fridge, and also on my phone as did my sister. We were covered. What suggestions do you have? Has this ever happened to you?

2 Comments

Filed under Diabetes, Family, Health, Insulin, Travel

When Your Child Is Diagnosed With Diabetes…

Two of the most important people in any child’s life are parents. No one is going to dispute me on this, I hope. We can also add any parental figures to this as well.

They are your initial caretakers, guides, protectors, allies, sponsors—they are your world and you are theirs. They pick you up when you fall, they tell you that everything is going to be OK and they know that you’ll make it past your first bike crash, burn and flu.

Until something happens that can’t be reversed. This is more than a cold that will pass or a fever that will break. This is something that will forever change the way their child will look at the world and the way that they will consider their child’s needs. This will mean excellent health insurance and health care. This will mean a number of checkups and monitoring of daily activities, proper meals and emergency kits, always hoping for the best of days yet knowing that every day is different.

It will mean daily shots, finger pricks, carb counting, understanding what the child is going through and what’s more is the challenge when the child is too young to speak and cannot relay how he or she is feeling. Keeping track, finding patterns, relaying information to not only the doctors but also trying to explain what’s going on to the child, while worrying about everything else that comes with a family is trying and exhausting.

This is what happens when your child is diagnosed with diabetes. The world changes. Not only does the diagnosed child have to learn to manage the disease, so do the parents of that child. The meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes real and suddenly the life of the child is literally in their parents’ hands.

I was diagnosed at seven years old with Type 1 diabetes. I followed directions from my parents, found it funny when I would start to shake from hypoglycemia and made lowering my blood sugar a game to play every day. I could talk and could tell my mother how I felt. I also know that my mother was very sad at the time. I didn’t understand why, only because I didn’t understand what having diabetes really meant.

As I got older, my mother helped me to understand different aspects to my body and what happened to my pancreas but she could only guess due to the fact that it wasn’t happening in her body but in mine. At the age of 18, she told me to start going to the doctor by myself. From watching the way she talked and trusted in doctors of all kinds, I learned to do the same and ask questions about the tests and numbers they were constantly doing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about myself and my future children—will they develop diabetes, too? Along with that, will they be born with it and diagnosed at months old as opposed to the way I was diagnosed? What would I do if that was the case?

I can’t imagine what my mother was going through. I don’t understand the feeling of having something “go wrong” in your child that you have to figure out and learn about and then manage. However, I have given both of my parents the props to do what they did and the help to guide me in the right direction. I give all parents a big congratulation for getting through any type of disease with their child.

I don’t know how I would be or what I would be doing without the help I received from my parents. They’re the ones who laid it all out for me and understood that I wasn’t going to let this get in my way and that all they needed was to be there to support me through it all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Family