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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Calling All Bloggers

Attention fellow bloggers!

It's my turn to host Basal Blogger Day!

Yep, that's right! The September edition of Blogger Basal will come from me! Can you tell that I'm excited? :-)

On Friday, September 24, 2010, D-Tales will present a compilation post, highlighting members of the DOC (diabetes online community) and featuring snippets from other blogs, much like the one Wendy (a.k.a. Mrs. Candy Hearts) posted here.

If you're a blogging member of the DOC and would like to be included, please email me at diabetestales@gmail.com. Be sure to leave me your "pen name" as well as a link to your blog or to a specific blog post in the body of your message.

I will take submissions until Friday, September 17, 2010. After that, I'll be reading, writing and prepping my Basal Blogger post.

Here are the Blogger Basal rules for URL submissions:
1) Must be (mostly) family friendly. Rants are welcome. Porn is not. Get it?
2) URLs are due on the 3rd Friday of the month (in this case, 9/17/2010). PERIOD. You may submit your URL before, but not after. A deadine is a deadline, after all.
3) Only one URL per author per month please.
So, c'mon and help me out! Join the fun! Send me your link! And you, too, will be a part of my D-Tale!

But remember, you only have until Friday, September 17th to submit your URL!

If you're feeling unsure or a bit curious, you can read the August edition (the very first edition) of Blogger Basal here. You can also get more information and see the names of future hosts here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Test Strip Towers


It was bound to happen and it did. Jack caught Max's virus. Max is all better, but Jack is now sick.

With a fever of 102. 5, Jack stayed home from school today.

(Side note: Though he's complained he feels nauseated, he hasn't vomited. He's had no ketones, and though his blood sugar numbers have been running high, they're not horrendous. So this bug is merely a mild inconvenience. Thank goodness! I am sure every parent of a child with diabetes knows what a major relief that is!)

Nonetheless, Jack couldn't attend school, and after a couple of hours of watching TV and reading, and with Children's Advil treating his temperature, he wanted to play. But, he didn't want to play Wii, DS or computer games. He didn't want to take out the Legos or the Mighty Beanz. He had no interest in trying to beat me at Connect Four or Battleship. "Nothing sounds good," he whined.

So, remember those used test strip containers I told you about here? Well, out they came today!

Jack built a tower.


And then another...


Pretty soon, "Freestyle City" with its "Test Strip Towers" grew.


And grew.


And my boy was happy, pale and feverish, but happy.


He also created some art for Diabetes Art Day, but you're going to have to wait a couple of days until September 1st to see it. ;)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nervous Nellie

I'm feeling nervous.

Gregg's aunt passed away, and we're heading out of town to pay our respects. But, we're leaving the kids at home with my mother and father.

I completely trust my mother. She knows how to test Jack's blood and count his carbs. She knows how to inject insulin. She knows the signs and dangers of high and low blood sugar. She knows Jack's coloring, personality and behavior patterns so well that she can often detect a low or high, before he says anything. She knows how to treat a blood sugar level of 70 versus how to treat a 35. She knows when and how to use Glucagon. And, unfortunately, with my father's frequent health issues, she's knows all too well how to dial 9-1-1. Besides, like the good grandma that she is, she loves Jack dearly. Plus, she remains level-headed in crisis situations, and her judgment is always right on.

If there's anyone with whom I'd leave Jack, it's my mom.

But we're driving to a city two hours away, and though we've left the kids with my parents and with babysitters for several hours at a time before, we've never gone out of town and left them. Not just since Jack's diagnosis. Not ever.

Now, I'm not passing judgment here. Parents need to do what works best for their individual family. Some parents can go to Europe without their kids for two weeks. I can't. I couldn't do it before Jack's diagnosis either. I especially can't do it now.

Leaving town without my kids is out of my comfort zone, especially with diabetes in our lives.

Of course, there are times when my children drive me so crazy that I wish I could run away, and that running to a remote village in the depths of Africa wouldn't be far enough. But in reality, I could never run that far from them.

Heck, I'm nervous about traveling two hours away for a day trip! We'll probably leave around 9 a.m. and return around 6 p.m. It's not as if we'll be out of communication or even in another state.

Still, it makes me nervous...not so nervous that it'll stop me from doing what I need to do and going where I need to go. Not so nervous that I'm having anxiety attacks. Not so nervous that I can't sleep. But nervous enough that it's on my mind, and here I am blogging about it.

I don't expect any issues to arise tomorrow. But what if they do? My mom will handle them, and we'll drive home earlier than planned, right? Sounds like no big deal, I know. I need to keep telling myself that.

It's just that diabetes is unpredictable. The only thing predictable about it is its unpredictabictability. I know that something could go down at any moment, and if that moment occurs tomorrow, I won't be around to be there for Jack.

So I will hope and I will pray and I will cross my fingers and my toes. I will give extra kisses and hugs before I jump in the car. I will call from the road to check in and say "I love you." I will think positively and not let fears get the best of me. I will trust my mother and I will try to make the best of the day. (Well, I'll try to make the best of what is bound to be a sad day).

And I will go say good bye to a very dear family member.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Cool Contest

The Princess and The Pump


Who's feeling lucky?

If you are, then head on over to The Princess and The Pump!

Hallie's giving away a super pump pouch!

Check it out!

Enter the contest and try your luck!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Pancreatic Peeps

Yesterday, I blogged about my wonderful, local D friends.

I get to see those people frequently and spend time with them in real life, lucky gal that I am. :-)

I have other D friends, too. They "live" in my computer...sort of. Don't worry. I'm not losing it here, having relationships with imaginary people. I'm not seeing ghosts or hearing voices.

I'm talking about my blogging buddies.

Initially, their writing reeled me in, and I began to read them religiously. Then they started following my former blog. We became Facebook friends and got to know one another. They now keep track of me. I keep track of them. We leave comments for each other. We tell D tales. We have inside jokes. We give and ask for advice. We offer support. We commiserate with one another. We laugh together. We carry on "normal" friendships. We just never see each other, unfortunately.

I'd like to introduce you to some of these blogging buddies:
~ Reyna at Beta Buddies has a son, Joe, who reminds me so much of Jack. Seven-year-old Joe has type 1, and he's just as active, crazy and silly as Jack. Reyna's hilarious, too. She makes me laugh day in and day out with her colorful language and funny stories.

~ Lora at
My Diabetic Child is another one who cracks me up. At first, she makes you think she's all spitfire and sass, but then you realize she's just a big softie.

~ Misty at
Life is a Like a Box of Chocolates is a sweetheart, who tells it like it is. As she says, "most days are really good, some are NUTTY, and you never know which kind you are gonna get!" So true!

~ Hallie at
The Princess and the Pump always seems to be able to read my mind. Seriously. She writes the stuff I'm thinking about. She publishes the posts that I can't seem to articulate. Her stories hit home all the time.

~ Nicole at
The We CARA Lot Blog inspires me. She lives in Canada, where the school systems do not do as much as they could and/or should for kids with type 1. Nicole is an amazing advocate for her daughter Cara and role model for the rest of us D 'rents.

~ Laura at
Houston...We Have a Problem writes about life with not one, but two autoimmune disorders. Her two-year-old son Nate has type1 diabetes, while her four-year-old daughter Sophie has ulcerative colitis/Crohn's. I love following Laura's family's journey, as they find "their new normal."

~ Jen at
I am Your Pancreas is not only a talented writer, but a talented photographer, too. Her blog features a lot of beautiful photography, depicting life with diabetes. And Jen and I happen to hail from the same home town. I gotta give my home girl some props! :-)

~ Joanne at
Death of a Pancreas tells tales about her cutie patootie, type 1 toddler named Elise, and she's expecting baby #2 this fall. Is there anything more exciting than a new baby? I'm looking forward to not only seeing baby pics, but reading about how their new addition changes things for their family.
~ Then there's Meri at Our Diabetic Life, who has not one, but three sons with type 1. She jokes around saying that their diabetes causes her to have a "hurty" or "swelly" brain, but what I see is her "swelly" heart.
There are so many more bloggers I adore and so many more blogs I read. I could go on and on! The DOC is full of amazing D moms and dads, whose friendships I treasure. Please don't be offended if you don't see your name and your blog on this list. As I mentioned above, it's just some of my pancreatic peeps. I'll highlight the rest of you as time goes on.

Who are your pancreatic peeps? Is there anyone to whom you'd like to introduce me?
 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Dark Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Sugar, Delaney and Madeline

This past Saturday, we attended the rally for our local JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.

This will be our third year of participating in the Walk, so this was our third rally. Most of the material presented was – dare I say it? – boring. It was simply a repeat of past rally programs. As a result, my mind drifted, and memories of our first rally rolled in.

The most memorable person at our first rally was Mrs. Candy Hearts. She gave the most moving presentation. She had brought with her a big bucket full of the used syringes collected during the first year of Sugar’s life with diabetes. That bucket blew me away. All those syringes! There had to be more than a thousand of them, if not two thousand! It was at that moment that I no longer felt so alone on this journey. I had the visual proof that other parents were injecting their kids with insulin, too. It was one thing to know it on a rational level; it was another to see it on an emotional level.

At that point, we were only ten months into our journey with diabetes, and we didn’t know many other families raising children with type 1.

We’ve come such a long way since then.

The Candy Hearts family is no longer just another family participating in the JDRF Walk. They’ve become dear friends. So have the families of The Superhero and The Princess, The Sugar Kids and Ladybugs and Lizards. We have several non-blogging, local D friends, too. We are blessed to live in the same community as these people, and we see them often. We meet at parks for play dates. We hold potluck pool parties. We gather at restaurants and throw off the other patrons when they see multiple children simultaneously lancing their fingers and checking their sugar levels.

Our kids are growing up with their kids. Jack is not the kid with diabetes. He’s one of several. He’s not so different! It’s a wonderful thing. Make that: it's a WONDERFUL thing.

Last night, Madeline asked me, “Mom, when Jack no longer has diabetes, will we still be friends with Delaney? Cause I really like Delaney and want to stay friends with her."

Delaney has type 1, too, and Madeline obviously adores her.

(It broke my heart to hear Madeline say “when Jack no longer has diabetes,” as if a cure is coming soon. But that’s a topic for another blog post.)

On Saturday, after the rally, we went out for dinner with Delaney’s family and that of Jack’s pal Max (not our Max, a different Max), who also has type 1. A good time was had by all, and once again, I was reminded that this dark cloud we call diabetes definitely has a silver lining.


Max and Jack

Delaney and Madeline
(with Max, wearing a visor, in the background)
Silly boys goofing around


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nasty, Scary, Smelly, Enemy-of-Diabetes Bug

Yesterday, when I picked up my kids from school, I had this fun conversation with Max, my cute kindergartener.
Max: Mom, see these stains on my shirt and on my shorts?

Heidi: I do see them. What happened, honey? Did you spill something from your lunch? Is that paint? What is that?

Max: Nope, I didn't eat my lunch. My tummy hurt too bad. I threw up.

Heidi: You what?! You threw up? Oh, Max, do you feel okay now? Why didn't you go to the nurse's office?

Max: I dunno. Besides no one saw it happen.

Heidi: What do you mean no one what saw it happen? When did you throw up? Where were you?

Max: I was on the playground, lining up to go back inside the classroom. My teacher wasn't there. Some other teacher was. It just happened. I just throwed up and then I went inside with everyone else.
At that point, I could not only see the stains, but I could smell them, too. And I was thinking, but not saying: WTF??? How could he have thrown up at school and not one adult witnessed it, heard it or smelled it? His clothing reeked. Why didn't he say something? Oh, that's right. He's only five, and he's a boy. Smelly, vomit-stained clothing doesn't bother him. Besides, he's probably still too shy at school to speak up about stuff like that.

Then fear struck and my thoughts suddenly turned to Jack: Oh, G-d no, I hope a stomach bug doesn't run through our house! I hope Jack doesn't get sick, too!

A stomach bug and diabetes is the worst combination. The last time Jack caught some sort of a stomach bug, he was nearly hospitalized. He couldn't keep any food or drinks down, and we couldn't keep his blood sugar elevated. His blood sugar levels ran dangerously low and he had ketones ... for days! The rest of the family battled this bug in a matter of four or five hours. Jack fought it for four or five days! It was one of the scariest experiences we've endured.

I tried to keep the boys separated yesterday afternoon in order to minimize Jack's risk of catching Max's illness, but that was like trying to keep peanut butter away from jelly. My boys stick close to each other at all times. They're not just brothers, but best friends.

I finally gave up on trying to separate them, thinking that if Jack was going to get the bug from Max, he probably already did. Max probably spread his contagious germs all over Jack in some brotherly brawl early in the morning, when I had no idea he was coming down with something.

So I'm watching Jack, and so far, so good. He's in school now, and if he got sick in school, he would speak up and visit the nurse. No worries there.

Max is doing well today, too. He was running a fever last night, but is nice and cool today with no tummy troubles. I kept him home from school, and he's happily building with Legos while watching a movie.

Hopefully, the nasty, scary, smelly, enemy-of-diabetes bug has left the house!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wrong Numbers

Tuesdays are a big deal for Jack.

Tuesdays are when his school cafeteria serves pizza, which Jack loves to buy for lunch. Plus, we allow him to purchase a carton of either chocolate or strawberry milk to go along with it.

It's his beloved weekly carb-fest.

We only drink plain milk at home, and I never pack milk in his lunch box. Plus, we rarely eat pizza, because with its fat content, it wreaks havoc on his blood sugar level. Usually after eating pizza, Jack initially goes low, then he skyrockets, and then we end up chasing a high for hours. Most of the time, it's just not worth it. So we eat pizza, but not often.

He seems to do okay with eating it at school for lunch, though. He has plenty of "active" hours left in the day, and we have enough time to closely monitor his sugar levels and treat as necessary.

With pizza day approaching tomorrow, and with the new academic year upon us, this morning, I called the school district's nutrition services department to obtain the carb count on the pizza served at Jack's school. Last year, they went through several changes, trying various pizza vendors, and I wanted to make sure I had accurate information.

After speaking with a few different people, I finally reached a gal, who could help me. Apparently, only one person in the department can access nutrition information.

I explained that I have a son with type 1 diabetes and that I need precise nutrition information in order to make sure he receives the correct amount of insulin. I said that his insulin dose is based upon the number of grams of carbohydrates he consumes and that he can encounter serious problems, if he's not dosed correctly. I apologized for troubling her, asking for this data, but made it clear that it's a medical necessity for Jack.

This lady with whom I spoke made me feel as though I were bothering her. "You know, you can get that information online," she quipped. She then reluctantly walked me through the steps to reach the nutrition services department's new "Health-e Living" site.

I saw the nutrition information for a slice of plain pizza, but not for pepperoni. That led me to ask her about it.

"Well, that number you see is an average. We don't have specifics for either plain pizza or pepperoni. You'll have to go off of the average," she said in a snotty tone.

"Ummm, averages don't work for Jack! He needs exact numbers, lady!" I wanted to snap back in frustration. Instead, I politely thanked her and hung up to figure it out on my own.

We were only talking about the addition of some pepperoni slices, and pepperoni isn't exactly carb-laden. I decided it wasn't really a big deal.

I looked at the nutritional information for both plain and pepperoni that I'd saved from last year, and a slice of plain pizza contained 38 grams of carbohydrates, while a slice of pepperoni came in with one gram less at 37.

The district's website gave me an average of 37.25. It was fine.

Nonetheless, I was dubious about the accuracy of the site. So after ending my phone coversation, I went on to look up the data for both chocolate and strawberry milk. The site told me that 8 ounces of chocolate milk equals 31.94 grams of carbohydrates, whereas 8 ounces of strawberry milk equals only 12.91 grams.

"That can't be right!" I thought. "Maybe I've made a mistake." So I tried it again, double-checking the information I was requesting, and sure enough, it gave me the same numbers.

I retrieved the milk information I'd saved from last year, and I checked the dairy farm's website. My information matched that on the farm's site. Chocolate milk contains 29 grams of carbohydrates, and strawberry milk contains 28. I then called the school to make sure they still serve milk from this particular farm. They do. So I know I have the right carb count for milk.

But, the district's website gave me the wrong numbers. It presented inaccurate data. Now, how can I trust it? It's not reliable.

In the past, Jack has only bought lunch on Tuesdays, pizza day. But what if he asks to buy the corn dog, the terriyaki chicken or something else? How am I going to calculate the carbs?

I need to think this through. Maybe I need to talk to the cafeteria manager. Maybe I need to ask the school nurse to intervene and talk to the nutritional services department on behalf of all of the kids in the district with type 1 diabetes. Maybe I need to speak with someone else higher up within the district.

Whatever I need to do, I'll do it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wanting to Turn Trash into Treasure



Okay, I’ll admit it.

I’ve been saving used syringes, lancets and empty test strip containers. I can’t throw them out…not yet, any way.

The wannabe artist in me thinks she’s going to do something with them some day. Maybe I’ll create a sculpture or a collage. Or I’ll create a series of striking black-and-white photographs. Or I’ll produce some sort of installation for the local JDRF or ADA office lobby.

My husband wants to toss it all. He thinks it’s totally out of character for anal-retentive, neat-freak, no-clutter-allowed, junk-purging-queen me, and he’s right. Saving this stuff is SO NOT me.

I don’t really have an emotional attachment to these things. Rather, I see the potential to create something beautiful out of something ugly. Diabetes is an ugly, ugly disease. I hate that my son has it. I hate that he needs syringes, lancets and test strips…and insulin and glucometers and so on and so forth. I hate that his life depends on these items. I hate how much they cost us each month. (We pay out of pocket for all diabetes supplies.)

But isn’t there some sort of irony in collecting the syringes and test strip containers? Am I the only one who sees it? I know I can transform these symbols of our heartbreak, these objects of my hatred, this medical waste, into something meaningful. I can make an artistic statement about our life or my feelings about this disease.

Does anyone else out there do this? No one’s going to nominate me for an episode of Hoarders, right?




Friday, August 20, 2010

Dear Fellow Parents

When Jack was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he was enrolled in a wonderful preschool program. The news of his diagnosis spread like wild fire through the school, and before we knew it, and without us announcing anything, it seemed as though everyone knew Jack had diabetes. In fact, we felt like instant "celebrities" with our news becoming the hot topic of gossip.

People stared. People gave us that "I'm so sorry" glance. People with whom we weren't friends or with whom we hadn't spoken in a while suddenly started talking to us and asking questions. We couldn't walk through the school without being stopped repeatedly by people who wanted the inside scoop and/or who wanted to share their sympathy. Some were nosey, but most were sincere and genuinely concerned.

What felt strange, and often annoying, at the time actually ended up helping us. We came to realize that the more people who knew about Jack's condition, the safer he would be. We knew that, if his blood sugar dropped so low or soared so high that he seized or entered diabetic ketoacidosis or encountered some other life-threatening, diabetes-related or general problem, people would know to get him help immediately. They wouldn't just walk by and think, "Oh, look, he was so tired that he fell asleep on the playground. Isn't he cute?" They wouldn't assume anything. They would make sure he was okay.

Granted, his teachers were all over him. They watched him like a hawk. No passers-by would notice him motionless on the playground, because his teachers, whom we'd trained in diabetes management, would have gotten to him first. Still, there was a comfort in knowing that should something freaky ever go down, other parents, teachers and school staff members were informed and would rush to Jack's aid. Everyone was on heightened alert when it came to Jack.

The following year, when Jack entered kindergarten at a new school, where we were relative unknowns, we decided it was important to inform his classmates' parents about his condition (in addition to informing and training all school personnel with whom he'd come into contact during the year).

We wrote a letter that the teacher sent home with the kids. We also spoke at the class back-to-school orientation.

We thanked people for helping us help Jack. We explained what diabetes is. We suggested how they could talk to their children about the disease. We described what their children would be seeing in school, like watching Jack test his blood sugar and drink juice at his desk when it wasn't snack time. We assured them that their children could befriend Jack without worry, because diabetes is not contagious. We asked that when they sent in treats for the class, that they please provide nutritional information, when possible, so that we would know the carbohydrate count, so that Jack could be like every other kid in the class and enjoy the treat (blood sugar level permitting, of course). We also asked that they never feed Jack anything at a class party without checking with us or the teacher first.

People responded with tremendous warmth and compassion. We received comment after comment and email after email from parents thanking us for informing them and offering to help in any way they could. Their support extended throughout the year, and these other parents not only helped us to keep Jack safe, but helped Jack feel like just another kid in the class. Many families even joined us in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.

When Jack entered first grade, we did the same thing. We sent home a letter and spoke at orientation, and once again, we found ourselves the recipients of kindness. Jack enjoyed another great school year, every day returning home safe and sound with watch dogs looking out for him all over the place.

Just last week, Jack returned to school as a "big" second grader. Despite our positive past experiences, Gregg and I debated what to do. "Do we really need to send home another letter to the class, and do we really need to speak at orientation again? Are people sick of us talking about Jack and his diabetes?"

We went round and round, talking so much that we were sick of us talking about Jack and his diabetes.

Then we saw the class list, and we learned that none of Jack's friends would be in his class this year. He would be in a class with all new kids. That made our decision easier. We knew we had to talk to the parents and distribute our intro letter.

So, two days ago, I received an email from the parent of one of Jack's classmates. She wrote:

Hi Heidi,
J is bringing in chocolate donuts from Dunkin Donuts to share with the class for his bday tomorrow. I thought this link might be helpful to you for Jack since the box is not labeled with the nutrition info.  Thanks and have a great day!
A

Her email made me teary-eyed. Here was yet another thoughtful parent helping us help Jack. When you ask for help, people give it. When you don't ask, you get nothing (usually). In this case, we were given not only a heads up about the treat, but the nutritional information as well. So nice! So helpful!

I tend to be a private person (I know, I know, that seems strange coming from a mom who's putting the details of her life out there on the Internet for all to read), but when it comes to Jack (and his brother and sister), I'm all about ensuring his safety and happiness and trying my hardest to give him the best life possible. If that means telling the entire school community about his diabetes, then so be it.

I'll be sending home letters and speaking at orientation year after year.

If you're another D parent and would like a copy of the letter we've sent to Jack's classmates' parents, leave me a comment with your email address or send me a message at diabetestales@gmail.com. I'll be happy to share it. I want your D kids to be safe and happy, living their best lives, too!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Great Contest

I just have to share this. It's too good not to share...though I suppose the less I shared, then the less people who would enter and then the greater my chance at winning. :)  But I'm not like that. :) So I'm going to tell you to click your way on over to Candy Hearts. Go NOW! There's a GREAT contest going on! Enter for your chance to win a "sugar load" of stuff!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Welcome

Welcome to D Tales! I'm so glad you're here.

With this being my first post, I was going to share our very first D tale, which is the story of Jack's diagnosis. But after I started writing, I realized that it's a very l...o...n...g story, which doesn't make for a good opener. I'll save it for a later date.

So instead, I began writing all about us...until I realized that I was duplicating my "About" tab.

After that, I decided to make this short and sweet and tell you what to expect from D Tales in the days ahead.

I'm going to give you a glimpse into our daily lives. With three kids and one demanding disease, there's never a dull moment around here.

I have a give-away contest with a cool prize coming up. (I'm really excited about that!)

I'm going to write some product reviews, too.

This is not my first blog, and some of you may know me. Please leave a comment and say "hello," if you do.

Even if you don't know me, please say "hello." I like making new friends. :) 

I'm an avid blog reader, and while I've been rather quiet in the diabetes online community lately (due to a wonderful summer vacation and back-to-school chaos and I have tales to tell about both) , I'll read more and start commenting again soon.

I think that covers it for now.

Thank you for visiting! Come back soon!