Friday, December 30, 2011

DSMA Blog Carnival: Why?

December DSMA Blog Carnival: We were told to take a question from the chats throughout November. I took my question from November 2, 2011:
Q1. Why do you advocate for diabetes or people living with diabetes?

As I contemplate my answer, I'm listening to some CDs I received as a Christmas present. Rich Mullins was a man inspired by God who shared the Gospel through his music. During my college years, his music helped me to find direction and purpose. I went to two of his concerts, even having the opportunity to meet him in person before one performance.  I find it fitting that I am listening to his music now as I think over another "why."  "Why do I advocate for diabetes or people living with diabetes?"

I've mentioned before that I feel that there is a reason I have diabetes. Each of us has a purpose in life. I honestly feel that God has lead me to help others in various aspects of my life. I feel called to be a wife, a life partner to my husband. I feel called to be a mother, raising my precious children into adulthood. I feel called to work as a substitute teacher, being there when the regular teacher can't and working with the students. Yes, I even feel called to be a person with diabetes, to reach out to other PWDs and help raise awareness and educate the general public.

This is probably a good time for a confession. Part of my desire to become an advocate is selfish. I know that I can't do this alone. I can't handle the highs and lows alone. The fear of complications paralyzes me at times. It scares me beyond words.  Diabetes is frightening. It's not a game, not a badge to show off. Diabetes caused my grandfather to lose both of his legs.  Diabetes kills. I don't just advocate and fight for others. I advocate and fight for me! I got involved in the DOC for me, to feel less alone. I started blogging to try to find other PWDs. Thankfully I've found that by working to help others, I am able to better deal with my own condition.

In the words of this Rich Mullins song, "We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are." We can't do this on our own; we need each other.

The cross above was found here with blue added to the circle by me to represent the DOC and WDD.

This post is my December entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Here comes the New Year!

Once the wrapping paper mess from Christmas is cleaned up, the focus shifts from the birth of Christ to New Year's Day and the dreaded New Year's resolutions.  In the same breath as "Happy New Year!" you're bound to be asked if you have any plans for the New Year.  Do you make resolutions? What are they?

I could go on and on about how I want to lose 10 lbs, save money, get more organized, eat better.  There are even articles that tell you how to make realistic New Year's resolutions. Since when have I followed the norm?  Why should I make the typical resolution when I can do something more?  Something that not only helps me, but the whole diabetes community in general.

I have decided that 2012 is going to be my advocacy year.  A year where I get my hands dirty in the mess of what it means to be an advocate for a cause.  I have started on a small scale, but I want others to know where I stand.  I haven't decided yet what exact direction I will be headed, but I do know that I want to make a big splash. I want to educate others, raise awareness, raise funds, and help find a cure.  I want to help supply medical equipment and medications to those who can't afford it. I want to educate the newly diagnosed. I want to help prevent unnecessary complications. I want to make a difference!

Finding someone to join me on this journey is both easy and difficult at the same time. Asking someone for help is the hard part.  There are bound to be plenty of people willing to help, if someone would just ask. Over the next few days, I hope to start a plan of action. I need to figure out what I am called to do. I need to start off small, not to jump in too fast, as not to get overwhelmed and burn out. 

What's going to change in 2012? I'm not going to just sit back with a passive approach to diabetes advocacy and awareness. I am going to work harder to get the message out. I am going to work harder at raising funds. I am going to work harder at being a true advocate. What is going to be awesome about 2012? Everything!

This post is part of the blog carnival on expectations for 2012 at 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hubby and I, Stuck Like Glue

Hubby and I started dating almost 26 years ago while we were both still in high school.  We got married a little over 19 yrs ago, the summer after I graduated from college.  Our first child was born 10.5 months later.  We've been through a lot, but we're still together, still very much in love.  We both have found the Sugarland song, "Stuck Like Glue," to be a song that brings us together, helping us to focus on our feelings for each other.  We've celebrated many Christmas seasons together.  Here's looking forward to many more!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Pig-Out

November and December are two of my favorite months for one reason - holidays! Thanksgiving brings me great joy as we discuss with the kids how thankful we are. They realize how fortunate we are as we discuss what others do without. My heart fills with joy and pride as they do things to help others.

The season of Advent is filled with anticipation as we celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus. Yes, I have to admit that the children are also excited about Santa Claus. I enjoy decorating the house and listening to Christmas music. This time is also full of reflection and meditation. As a mother, how would I feel in Mary's place? What does the birth of the Messiah mean to me?

Christmas Eve and Christmas are filled with wonder and surprise. Our church's candlelight Christmas Eve service full of lessons and carols will no doubt put a tear in my eye. The anticipation before bed and the excitement of Christmas morning brings out the child in all of us.

As a PWD (person with diabetes), the holidays also have a negative side - all the yummy carb-filled goodies! Cookies, candy, cakes, breads, potatoes - YUM! The lessons of these holidays can also be used to help with the moderation needed to keep glucose levels in check.

Thanksgiving - Being thankful for what I have helps me through this holiday. I am thankful for my medical team. My doctor listens to me and helps me work through my concerns. He also knows that I take the time to educate myself, not accepting things blindly and taking a proactive approach to my health.

Advent - Waiting. Sometimes I need to wait for that piece of cake until my glucose level comes down or wait until after a brisk walk. On the other side, I may need to wait until my glucose levels come up to drive somewhere.

Christmas - The season of giving. I may give someone part of my treats to avoid overindulgence or give myself a nice big salad to counteract the mashed potatoes that call to me. Giving another PWD encouragement that they can get through the holidays complication-free.

PWDs: As we continue through the holiday season, as we face temptation wherever we go, remember these three words: Moderation, not deprivation.

And to the Type Awesomes out there, the ones who support us, please take note of Mike's video as a guide of how to eat with a PWD:

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Diabetic Substitute

Many of my blog posts mention my position as a substitute teacher. I've talked about the changes in my daily schedule while juggling family life. Some days, I don't find out if I'm subbing until that morning.  I typically find out by 6:30 am and leave about an hour later. Perhaps the trickiest part about being a sub in the variable lunch periods.

Depending on the teacher's schedule (or program assistant, aka teacher's aide), my lunch break can start as early as 10:30 am or as late as 12:30 pm. It can be tricky to keep glucose levels in check, especially if I don't know when my breaks are until I get to the school. As a result, I started carrying snacks with me. Today I had some pretzels in my bag. When I'm a program assistant, I may keep a granola bar in my coat pocket to eat during recess.

Although I find the schedule tricky some days, having a snack on hand helps. I rarely have situations where my glucose levels go high. Typically mid-morning or toward the end of the school day is when I need a little snack. If I forget a snack when I really need one, I might be able to fall back on treats in the teacher's lounge (vending machine or on the table to share), a portion of the lunch I brought, or the school nurse when all else fails.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent Through the Eyes of a Child

This Sunday was the third Sunday of Advent. My fourth child was asked to carry down the advent candle. She declined politely to the head usher. However my youngest almost was on the verge of jumping up and down as she raised her hand with a huge smile. "Do you want to carry the candle?" I asked, already knowing the answer. "Yes!"

This year we are using previously lit pillar candles with battery-operated tea light inserts, so safety wasn't a concern. At the designated time, I walked her to the back of the sanctuary. Being only seven years old and needing to walk down the aisle, I expected some of her shyness to come out and delay the service. I walked with her most of the way, allowing her to finish the walk up to the lector, who was standing by the wreath, on her own.

She was very proud of herself which became more obvious in what she drew as we sat in the pews. My young artist drew a picture of herself walking down the aisle holding the candle, complete with banner, balcony, and pews.

Of course this proud mom discretely snapped a picture of her drawing, not knowing that this child had not yet completed her artwork. As we continued to listen to the gifts of music and the stories told during Advent, my child added color to her story - the brown woodwork, the blue candle with its flames of orange and red, her blonde curly hair, and the colorful stain glass.

The pride she had in carrying the candle and participating in worship came through in her artwork. Of course we had to show the pastor as well as the usher who allowed her to have such and honor. Now we show the world. As the song goes, "This little light of mine. I'm going to let it shine." And shine it does!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paper Clips and Scotch Tape

There are some days when I feel like I'm just getting by. I feel like I'm in reactive mode. Not much of a plan. Just rolling with the punches. Letting the world dictate while I just react. Some days I feel like I'm being held together by paper clips and Scotch tape.

For the first 17 years of motherhood, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom. I had an occasional paying job, but it was always a position that allowed me to bring my child(ren). I have worked in positions such as childcare for a mother's group and the drop-in nursery at the YMCA. the positions were only for a few hours at a time, so they felt more like a playdate than a job.

Last year, when my youngest started kindergarten, I decided I wanted to go back into teaching. Since it had been over 17 years since I had last taught (student teaching at that, not my own classroom), my husband and I agreed that subbing would be the best way to get back into it. I started subbing with some nervous butterflies. Would the students listen to me? Did I still have the passion for teaching that I had so many years ago?

From the start, I loved subbing. I honestly believe that some of this was due to my attitude. I start each day with a prayer, something simple like: "Lord, let me have fun while helping these students learn." I look at subbing as a privilege. "Wow! I get to help this teacher! He/She is trusting me with this class!"  It's even better when I find out that a teacher has requested me as the sub!

Although I love subbing, it was an adjustment for my family. Mom was no longer home during the day to bring a forgotten lunch or homework paper. Mom couldn't go to the store while the kids were at school. Time in the evening and weekends would have to be scheduled for normally daytime errands.

It was difficult at first. We ate out a lot, because we weren't used to planning meals in advance. I had always done that during the day. We would have to make emergency trips to the store, because I had forgotten to buy toilet paper, something I did on my once-a-month stock-up while the kids were at school.

Now in my second year of subbing, we have worked out most of the bugs. My hubby has stepped up with meal planning, often prepping meals for the week on Sundays. My oldest helps drive her sisters to and from activities as needed. I have learned to budget my time to include errands and housework.

In a way, the switch from full-time stay-at-home mom to substitute teacher is similar to my switch from non-diabetic to a person with diabetes (PWD). I was used to eating whatever and whenever I wanted, just as I once had the flexibility to run errands whenever I liked. Suddenly I had to eat on more of a schedule, watching my carb intake and activity to keep my glucose levels in check.

Is it impossible to adjust? No. I have actually found myself happier and healthier as I adjust to the new demands as a PWD and substitute teacher. There are still times where I feel like I'm put together with paper clips and Scotch tape, but with help from God, my family, and my friends, those office supplies aren't needed as much.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not a want, but a need

When we come into this world as newborns, wants and needs are one in the same.  A baby wants/needs food, a dry diaper, and to be dressed appropriately.  A normal, healthy newborn doesn't want or need a fancy toy or the latest technology. However, as they get older and become more aware of the world, wants and needs are no longer the same.  A toddler may say they "need" a piece of candy, but at that point we realize that this is a want. 

As we get older, our true needs are few though the list sometimes is littered with wants.  The basic needs are food, water, and shelter.  Yes, we could elaborate that list to say we need a job to support our family so that we can provide these things for ourselves. Yes, we could also say we need a reliable form of transportation.  But how many of the items we put on our "need" list are actually "wants"?

There are many days where I feel I "need" a second working car.  Yes, a second car would make our lives easier, but is this actually a need?  We live in a small town that is blessed with a free public bus system.  In the morning, the kids are dropped off at their respective schools.  If I'm subbing, my husband drives and also drops me off in the morning.  In the afternoon, we are either picked up by my oldest, a college student, or we take the public bus if the college schedule dictates.  Do we really need a second car?  No.

On the other hand, there is the matter of health.  Being healthy would fall under a need category.  We need to be healthy to work that job to provide food, water, and shelter for ourselves and our family.  There are some illnesses that are not much more than an inconvenience for most people, like a cold.  I suppose getting over the common cold is more of a want than a need, though none of us need to have a cold for any length of time.  (I do realize that for some a cold can be very dangerous, but for the purpose of this blog I am using the general public as an example.)

Then there are illnesses and diseases that are definitely in a "need for a cure" category.  Diabetes of course is one of these diseases.  To the outsider who doesn't see this invisible disease, the need isn't as urgent. Many people thing that with a simple shot or losing weight, people with diabetes can just deal.  The desire for a cure seems more like a want to them. 

To the family of 16 year old Matthew, the need for a cure was very real.  This young man was full of life and full of promise.  Unfortunately he passed away on Saturday from complications due to his diabetes.  Although I have never met Matthew and hadn't heard of him before today, my heart aches for his family.  This blue candle is in memory of him and the others who we have lost due to diabetes.

Another life lost to this terrible invisible disease.  Do we want a cure?  Of course we do, but this has gone beyond want.  It's no longer a desire of our hearts and dreams.  A cure is a genuine need.  A need that is as strong as our need to breathe, our need for food, our need for water.  Please pray with me for a cure.  Please also pray for Matthew's family that they may receive the peace and comfort that they need.

Monday, December 5, 2011

*MY* Diabetes

Quite often when I talk about my experiences with diabetes, I refer to the condition as "my diabetes."  This morning I was thinking about this phrase, one that most people with diabetes use. Why?

Diabetes is a personal disease.  No two people have the same exact condition, even those who are related.  My mom and I react differently to the same foods.  I have trouble with pizza, where she seems to be able to eat pizza without too much trouble.  However, her glucose levels go up with ice cream, while I don't seem to have too much trouble.

This could be the serving size and ingredients, the medications we take or don't take, and our activity level, but also it could be just our own physiology.  My mom was diagnosed later in life, after all of her children were grown.  I was younger, still in my 30's.  "My diabetes" is different than "her diabetes."

This disease is definitely not a "one size fits all."  The typical "diabetes diet" may work for some, but most diabetics need to figure out their own plan.  In his blog, Alan suggests figuring out what works best for the individual.

Diet, exercise, and medication needs must be individualized.  Some may need a heavier carb load in the morning, while others may need it later in the day.  For example, I try to eat very low carb (20-30g carbs) at breakfast unless I know that my activity level will need higher carb intake.  If I eat a lunch's carb load (about 30-45g carbs for me) at breakfast with normal activity, my glucose levels will be elevated. 

Overall, a person with diabetes (PWD) needs to take advice from his/her medical team but also listen to his/her body and meter.  I try to do this as well. Afterall, it is my diabetes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seeing Blue

November was Diabetes Awareness Month.  The diabetes community joined together, wearing blue every Friday for diabetes awareness in addition to World Diabetes Day (14 November).

Have you ever paid attention to what color people are wearing on any given day? My children play a game where they search out yellow cars. You don't realize how uncommon yellow cars are until you've played this game. The opposite was true for me on November 4, the first of the Blue Fridays.

Everywhere I looked, I saw people wearing blue. Blue dress shirts, blue t-shirts, blue scrubs, blue sweaters, blue jeans.  I actually felt a sense of pride. Were all of these people wearing blue in honor of all the people living with diabetes? I was just about to ask two women who were sitting together at lunch, both wearing blue, if they knew about Blue Fridays.

Then reality hit. It was highly doubtful that they would know about Blue Fridays. Afterall this was a movement started by the DOC, not mainstream media.

Should I have told them about Blue Fridays? Maybe a little flyer to hand out, educating people? That would be easier, perhaps. I would welcome ideas for spreading the word to the general public.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Introducting... my new meter

Yes, I'm a geek. A geek that loves gadgets. So of course I love my meters.  After my main meter bit the dust, I called Abbot to get a new meter.  It arrived today!

Hubby and I had gone out to lunch for a pizza buffet. I figured I'd be ok since we decided to walk there and back.  When I got home, I thought I'd give my new meter a try.

I then posted on Twitter:
RFamHere's Ramblings
New meter knows I had pizza. Boo! Hiss! Be nice, new meter!
 Well, I thought I'd give "New Meter" a chance to redeem himself and compare to my backup meter.

Well, this wasn't helping my situation.  

RFamHere's Ramblings
Hmm... I forgive you, new meter (right).You're nicer than backup meter (left).
Looks like "New Meter" can stay afterall.   Now to decide if I want to put the purple puppy sticker on "New Meter" or let it stay on "Backup Meter."