Saturday, June 30, 2012

Camp Week (Reflecting on Time Away)

Camp week is over.

My girls are back at home; safe and sound.

Each feeling a whole lot tired and thrilled.  They did it!

In short, blood sugars behaved with one high and an emergency site change, trace ketones and lots of water.  One daughter had a 48 bg after a very large lunch but bounced back after a box of juice and couple of tabs.  Beyond that, BGs remained constant in the 100s and low 200s throughout the entire week for both.  Pretty amazing given that the weather was about 200 degrees and the kids were busy bees all day long.

The ride home was suprisingly loud, full of giggles and stories of camp.  Both youngest and oldest daughter had tall tales to tell, including a story of falling into the lake while fishing, in front of a cute boy.  In her words, "It was totally embarassing!"

Really?  Cute boys already?

Even though she was too shy to explain it, our oldest daughter also was the recipient of the Kind Award.  Upon pick-up, her counselor had tears in her eyes and said that she was only one of four Trailblazers to receive an award, which was picked by the entire staff.  This news promptly made my husband and I cry because we are so incredibly proud of her too.  She really is a nice girl and I am so unbelievably happy that her kindness follows her... even when no one (like two parents) is around.

Youngest daughter proudly displayed the battle wound from a freshly removed leg infusion set and said that against her instinct, she even tried a dreaded tomato.... and liked it.  The interesting part of the story is that in order to perform leg site, she went with her medstaff to seek out oldest daughter to hold her sister's hand during insertion.  Later that day, they went through the cafeteria line and our youngest daughter, so determined to be just like her big sister, decided that if one was getting a tomato, then so would she. 

Again, after learning that story, both my husband and I started to cry. 

Yes, both daughters are very content and pleased with themselves. 

And us?

Despite the fact that we are apparently big cry-babies, I am so happy that my girls went to camp and had the chance to have these experiences.

It really isn't about the type 1 diabetes, but more about the chance to grow, challenge themselves and to bond with not only each other, but also all of the friends that they meet along the way.  These experiences will shape their future and also, will teach the idea that anything is possible if you just try.

Yes, anything is possible if you just try.   So tonight, I will be seizing the moment and serving tomatos.  Wish me luck that the magic of camp is still upon us!   Thank you Camp Midicha and the ADA! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meter Review - One Touch Verio IQ

As promised, here is the review of the One Touch Verio IQ that the girls' received through the type 1 diabetes camp check in process - just for the sake of clarity, no one at One Touch asked me to write anything up... this is just a fun thing to share.

As soon as you open the box, a tightly wrapped in cellophane package rolls out.  Is it me or this kind of thing exciting? 

Drum roll, please................

Ok, so it is rather anti-climatic.... The contents include the usual meter garb; one owner's booklet, an easy read guide, a warranty card, soft black case, power plug adapter, USB cable, tester solution and a few leaflets.  My favorite part of the package is the bonus 10 strips and the Delica lancing device with 10 lancets.  I love it when companies provide some strips and lancets to play with.  Who wants to wait around for a shipment from a durable medical goods supplier?

One downside to someone impatient like me, is that before you can play with the Verio IQ, you have to charge it first.  Since it was bedtime, I opted for an overnight charge, however, according to the package instructions, you could charge it for 4-5 hours.

This is my husband's blood sugar after having hummus and pita bread.  Not too bad.  The strips take the blood on the side and it seems like a microscopic amount, which is nice.  The only down side is that a poke is still a poke.  Can't wait for the day when we can ditch that part of type 1 diabetes care.
Look at the bling on the strips.... pure gold tone!

The other handy feature of this meter is that is supposed to relay alerts on blood sugar trends and offer suggestions.  I haven't used the meter on the girls but think it might be nice to actually have an alert, especially for oldest daughter who is really taking on more and more of her own day to day type 1 diabetes management.

The down side is that I need to clearly label the meters because having more than one child on a meter could be confusing and provide incorrect trend alerts.  Since there are no skins, this is definately something to aware of.

Hope you enjoyed a brief look at the Verio IQ.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Camp Drop-Off (Or Leaving My Heart Behind)

Not our camp, but how cute is this poster?

Sunday was our big type 1 diabetes camp check in and drop off experience.

The night before we left for check in, Saturday, I could sense the anticipation ramping up with youngest daughter's barrage of questions.

"Do you think I will be able to get a top bunk bed?"

"What do we get to eat for dinner?"

"Will my friend Sarah be there from day camp?"

"How many times will we be able to go swimming?"

On the morning of our drive to camp, her intense questioning fell silent. For a few hours, she didn't speak a word except to say that she needed a snuggle from her big sister, whom was also riding in the back seat of the car.

Giving each other knowing smiles, my husband and I knew better than to react too sharply to any of it. After all, this wasn't our first time at the rodeo (IE. overnight camp).

The previous year, oldest daughter experienced a similar roller-coaster of feelings; from excitement to nervousness to impatience to sheer happiness. There were even tears at times and that same demand for snuggles. In the end, we picked up the most happy child ever, so we knew that all of this emotion is just temporary.

This time, with a full year of knowledge under her belt, our oldest daughter played it cool. She fulfilled the role of the big sister and gave little tips out.

"You can have any bunk bed you want. Just throw your stuff on it and it is yours."

"Top beds are way cooler."

"At night, you can use your flashlight under your covers to read and no one says anything."

"Don't worry, I will see you a lot and we can get into line together for meals."

"Your counselors will be sooooo nice. They will help you."

"You're little.  I bet that you will get flipped the most on the water raft.  You're going to love it!"

Seeing my soon-to-be sixth grade daughter playing it so cool and mature with her little sister, allowed me to be more confident too.

I still had that restless energy that alternated between nervousness and excitement, but I was able to actually relax a bit more.  I focused on packing the week before and making two big care packages for the girls to open on Monday night's mail call. 

After that was done, I filled the empty spaces of time with extra snuggles and fun day trips around town, keeping us all busy.

Then finally, camp check in arrived.

The procedure itself is rather long.  And of course, times two, ends up being around 3 hours for our family.  It contained the usual arrival, medication drop off, photo ID picture taking, and meeting with the med staff on how to actually care for our children.  If you have never been through camp or are hesitant to go, let me just say that the med staff rocks!  One of our med staff this year, actually made index cards with notes from the previous year for our oldest child. 

"Hi!  How is your broken arm?  Did it heal up?  Are you still playing soccer?  How was fifth grade?"

(Insert shocked looks on all of our faces - how did she know that stuff?)

I think that might have been the best "camp" magic trick, any of us have witnessed.  This truly is the magic of type 1 diabetes camp.  People who come out and volunteer to spend a week with your child in hopes of letting kids be kids and allowing parents a little extra time to charge their very important batteries.

These diabetes peeps care!  How cool is that?

During check in, we also scored some cool swag with a couple of back packs, beach towels and from a rep who loves our Naturally Sweet Sisters, four Verio IQ One Touch meters (I promise to update on those when the girls come back from camp - oldest daughter immediately fell in love with I-Pod look and feel of them - just need to see how well these babies work!).

Once both girls were in their cabins and getting changed for the big swim test, my husband and I reluctantly left with only a wave and one last snuggle.  The girls were too excited to be nervous and gave us a little push towards the door. 

And so we walked away, empty handed, no kids, no sleeping bags, no diabetes stuff.  For a moment, too drained of all those heightened emotions to say much of anything to each other.  Camp check in day was not only here, but now over.

We, as parents, have a week off.

A whole week off.

With no one planning a swim test for us, making us dormitory food, taking us on zip lines and hikes.... now what do we do?

See it isn't the diabetes that I will miss, but the fun times that we have with our girls. 

A long silence on the drive, this time, from the two of us.  I feel the need for a snuggle to reassure me that the girls will be fine (or maybe it is for me to reassure me that I will be fine).

But wait... did my husband just make us a tee time at our golf course and suggest an adult dinner afterward?  I briefly contemplate the last time we went on a date and I come up empty handed.

Time alone with my husband, who at times seems more like a medical co-worker, than a husband.

Okay, so maybe this is going to be a fun week for the grown ups too.

Camp really IS great!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blood Draws: The Aftermath

Youngest daughter outside the clinic after her blood draw and Angry Birds reward sticker.

It had to be done.

No escaping, forgetting, misplacing the script or just plain avoiding it.

Today was blood draw day.

Youngest daughter had an increase in her Levothyroxin dose (for Hashimotos Disease, Autoimmune Hypothyroid) and the guaranteed result is a follow-up blood draw to make sure her T3 and T4 levels were behaving.  You can read about that diagnosis here.

We changed her dose at the end of April, with instructions to check in 6-8 weeks to ensure the levels were correct.

That day came and went with a justification that we have been busy and a "gut" feeling that youngest daughter's levels are correct.  After all, she has no leg pain - her number one symptom when her Levothyroxin needs change.

After a discussion with a fellow D-mom who announced she was also taking her son, I felt that special camaraderie (Or was that guilt!) that says, "hmmmm, I guess we should be doing that too."

Because even though I am not the one who is getting the poke, I know how much anxiety that causes the certain Naturally Sweet Sister who would be.

Which breaks my heart.

I dislike that this sweet little girl has to go through this so often.

While I am happy that we are keeping her feeling great - no more leg pains! - I also hate that I have to see her struggle with the worry, fear and pain that a single blood draw causes.


It stinks.

And I know we are not alone in feeling this way.  As moms, we all want to shelter our kids from yet again, another life sting. 

This is the part that just isn't fair (and I rarely will ever say this because I know LIFE ISN'T FAIR!) but having your kids go through so many procedures day in and day out, really is heartbreaking.  Blood draws rank right up there with starting an IV line.  No kid wants to have this done.  And certainly, no parent wants to put them through it.

So what do I do to help make it easier?

Well, I find that honesty truly does help.  I tried once to spring it on youngest daughter and didn't say a word until we were pulling into the parking lot.  Not a good idea.  Her anxiety was intense because she felt betrayed and feared that it would be especially painful since I hid it. 

I have also tried pretending that it didn't hurt and asking for her to pretend that it didn't either.  But it did and sobs came even louder when that needle sting occurred.

One day, I sat with her and asked what she like most and what she liked least and came to this.... here are the five things that youngest daughter says helps her with the dreaded blood draws.

1.)  Tell her at least one day in advance.

2.)  Be honest.  If you know the clinic needs five vials of blood for a comprehensive visit, tell her.  It is better to know that it might take an extra minute in the chair.

3.)  The most painful part for youngest daughter is not the needle insertion, it is the release of the butterfly clip.  We now ask the techs to release it slowly and not with a quick snap.

The butterfly clip is the blue part directly behind the needle, nearest to the skin. Slow release helps to hurt less.

4.)  Give her a focus.  For youngest daughter, she needs something to squeeze with her other hand as it allows her to channel her fear into something.  Sometimes, if a beloved stuffed animal or a stress ball isn't available, just holding mom's hand is perfect! 

5.)  Let her look at the needle insertion and watch the blood draw process.  In the beginning, she would close her eyes and not know what was happening, causing greater anxiety to herself.  Witnessing the blood draw process helps to know the steps and provides greater mental control for her.  It also helps to have the tech talk through each step or even count down the time remaining. 

It isn't ever going to be fun to go to a blood draw but I do try to schedule something fun afterward.  Today landed us at a skate park and the chance to run around the sprinklers of a fire truck. 

Photo: So much fun!

Watching her giggle helped remind me (and her) that no matter how crappy blood draws are, she is still living a wonderful childhood, even with a few extra pokes. 

Friday Funnies - 6/22


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Perfect Sport - Part 2

Aren't all of the juniors bags so darn cute? 

Within the world of type 1 diabetes, blood sugars and sports can be challenging.  That swing of the pendulum from high to low in a blink.  There never seems to be enough time to take a break, test bgs, correct with food or insulin, wait, and then start playing again.

Well, until we discovered the world's most perfect sport...


I wrote a bit about it here in anticipation of the girl's starting their lessons.

But after experiencing our first day on the course, I am now absolutely convinced that this guy

Scott Verplank, PGA Professional and living with type 1 diabetes

figured out something brilliant.

Both girls have played twice since summer vacation started.  Both times, their blood sugars fell at perfect low 100s. 

Nothing high and nothing low.

Oldest daughter, WPGA Hopeful and living with type 1 diabetes

Recovery was a breeze.  Nothing like soccer spikes and drops.  Or swimming fatigue.  Or even bicycling lows out of no where.

Instead, golf seemed to live up to it's gentlemen status and completely played by the rules.

Youngest daughter, Not going to be left behind in golf, and living with with type 1 diabetes

Golf really is the perfect sport!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Camp (To Go or Not to Go - That is the Question!)

Camp is in five days.

Last year, I sent our oldest daughter to overnight for the first time while youngest daughter stayed in day camp for a final year. It was so hard to do and I had a ton of anxiety and worry when I picked up youngest daughter by herself at the end of each day.

No oldest daughter for an entire week.

I cried.  A lot!

But we got through it and both daughters had a blast and are very excited to go back in five days.

Which is great because youngest daughter, at the ripe old age of 8, is beyond excited for her first overnight this year.

I think I am feeling OK with sending both girls too, mostly because I see how they love it.

My Naturally Sweet Husband is a mess. Last night he announced, "I don't want them to go".

And I don't think he was joking. 

But go they must.  Camp, no matter how painful for us as parents, is ultimately the best thing for two little girls living with type 1 diabetes. 

Not only is the entire week kids first, diabetes second....

it is also a week of everyone living with diabetes while being kids.

I'll post an update as the time nears.....just send that big guy some positive thoughts to help him get through this.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day - 2012

Some dads are cool. 

Some dads are cooler.

Some dads are even the most coolest.

But my dad is the only dad that is Naturally Sweet. 
Happy Father's Day to a guy who isn't afraid to wear pink
and will never give up fighting for a cure!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recipe Time! Strawberry Jam

Doing something different for this Naturally Sweet Sisters blog post. Here in Michigan, it is strawberry season.  To me, nothing tastes better than ripe, sun-warmed strawberries right off the plant. 

In honor of strawberry season (see, now it sounds like a real, live holiday!), I thought it would be fun to show you a recipe for making homemade strawberry freezer jam.  It is simple, fast, fresh and delicious.  My favorite part is that you know exactly what is in it and counting those pesky carbs is super easy.

What you need:
2 cups crushed, strawberries
4 cups granulated sugar (or as little as you would like to use)
3/4 cup water
1 box of Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin

Step 1. 
Rinse the strawberries and remove the stems.  Crush the strawberries thoroughly.  Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into a large bowl.  Add in the sugar (use the amount that you prefer for sweetness) and let the combined fruit and sugar mixture stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Also, make sure that you have enough plastic containers.  The original recipe called for five 1-cup containers with lids, but I tripled the amount using several 1/2 cup containers.  Make sure the containers are sterile and if in doubt, boil water and dip both lids and containers into the hot water.

Step 2. 
Mix the water and pectin together in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Let boil for one minute.  Then, immediately add the fruit mixture and stir for three more minutes or until sugar is dissolved.  A few sugar granules might remain, but you shouldn't hear that gritty sugar sound.

Step 3.
Fill the containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of the tops.  Wipe off top edges of containers and immediately cover with lids.  Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  Jam is ready to use.  Either store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in freezer for up to one year.  Thaw in refrigerator before using and be sure to keep the jam in the refrigerator after use.

Nutritional information per serving (using 4 cups of sugar) - this will change if you alter the amount.

Serving = 1 tablespoon

Calories = 45
Sugars = 12 grams
Carbs = 12 grams


Monday, June 11, 2012

Camping (or Feeling Old)

Remember when you were younger and listened to "old" (and by old, I mean people who were your parents and were most likely in their late 30s and 40s), discussing the starting of aches and pains in their bodies?

I always thought that was sad.  As a kid, I had a hard time imagining anything hurting.  If you fell, you just dusted off your Calvin Kleins (cuz that is how old I am) and moved on. 

Listening to the old folks left a lasting impression on me.  The impression was, to grow old but to do it without aches, well actually, do it without belly aching.

Well, I am now old. 

And things hurt.  Sometimes more than I even care to admit.  Which makes me belly ache.... just a little.

Why this change of heart you might ask?

Well, because spending a wonderful night with my two girls in one of these.

And without an air mattress.

And missing an adult sleeping bag.

And sleeping terribly because I was so fearful of missing the middle of the night check.

And seeing one of these.

Or being eaten by one of these.

And losing control of all of our diabetes supplies in the middle of the night because kids just do not pick up (or put away).


Which means that I am getting cranky and old.  Just like one of those old people that I used to listen to.

And look at these faces... do you think they ever had a bad day in their lives?  Nope, not a bit!  What in the world was I ever thinking?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

End of School and Ford Field and JDRF

A lot of the time, I am completely excited to create experiences for the girls that also co-mingle with type 1 diabetes. 

"Kids first, diabetes second" blends into everyone doing the exact same thing of checking blood sugar, playing around and seeing cool stuff.

It is nice for all of us to see that and to be with our kind of peeps!  It is like walking into Naturally Sweet Sisters Land.... (Total digression but wouldn't this be a fantastic board game???  We could have kids travel through blood sugar testing mountains, candy carb swamps, sinister site changes and end up owning Naturally Sweet Sisters Land!  If you borrow that idea, be sure to send me a donation check to honor NSS for JDRF!)

Saturday was event that promised that very same co-mingling at Ford Field.  It involved our JDRF Walk to Cure Type 1 Diabetes as a kick-off to fundraising celebration. 

The trouble was that the event was scheduled for the very day after our marathon (notice almost no posting on Naturally Sweet Sisters????) last week of school.

The kids had already romped and stomped their way through two field days, one field trip to our Natural History Museum, two year book signing parties, one classroom winning pizza party for good deeds and a couple of ice cream socials. 

All of that partying led to a Friday night exhaustion meltdown. 

Um, yes, that would be from ME.

I was tired.  And yes, the girls were tired too.  How could they not be?

When Saturday rolled around, our very first day of summer vacation, we had to wake up at 7:00 a.m. to be on the road to arrive in a timely manner. 

Let me just say, it was hard.  Really hard.  None of us wanted to wake up and drive an hour and party some more.  Even at Ford Field.  With games.  And our peeps.

I think the conversation sounded like this...

(alarm sounds)  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

My husband says, "I think YOU have to get up." 

I roll over and pretend otherwise.  "Mmmmumph."

He repeats again, "YOU really need to get moving."

And all I can muster is another "Mmmmumph."  In my mind, I am quietly devising ways to stay longer in bed and force my husband to take the kids so I can sleep longer. 

This is where you know you have been married for a long time because somehow he was able to read my thoughts and rolled out of bed, taking all of the covers with him.  This forces my hand because who wants to stay in a cold bed?

As you all know, having a week of heavy fun with lots of pizza and ice cream means extra blood sugar checks day and NIGHT.  Feeling a little tired as the rest of the world does during the day means that my (our) nights are even less restful than normal. 

This is defined as exhaustion.   The kind that you aren't sure if can quite recover from.  Even for one more fun day.

Somehow, you do.  I still haven't figured that part out.  When I think back to my life prior to children, I remember skipping all sorts of things for a few extra zzzzzz's.

This must be defined as maturity.  Stupid maturity.

Eventually ALL of us woke up and even made it in time to enjoy the fun from beginning to end. 

Which was great because I met not one, but two brand-new families and hugged about a 100 more that I already knew. 

In that moment, not only where my batteries re-charged but I also noticed that my darling daughters and husband felt the same way. 

After all, these are our kind of peeps.  The kind that barely blink an eye when the blood sugar meter beeps out a 326 for youngest daughter and a 372 for oldest daughter because they just stuffed themselves with complimentary event rolls and muffins. 

Instead, they also check, find the same issue and we together, correction bolus and move on for more fun. 

I love Naturally Sweet Sisters Land! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Funnies: 6/8

Today I bring you one of my very favorite, laugh-out-loud, (and a little bitter sweet too) type 1 diabetes videos.  This takes a few moments to watch and you want to make sure you are in a comfy chair and ready for a belly laugh (or ten).

And if you want to know where I have been all week, my apologies... the Naturally Sweet Sisters are finishing their own marathon of sorts... the final week of school.  I am feeling a little harried and trying to divide myself between two schools which are full of field trips, field days, class parties, pizza parties and my favorite - an ice cream give-a-way because the freezer was stocked too fully in the cafeteria (but, hey, they at least were kind enough to include nutrition labels)!

Without further ado,

Credits go to myKPP.  Thank you for producing such an awesome video!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scheduling Appointments (Or Cocking a Snook)

From Wikipedia  ]Thumbing the nose is a sign of derision in Britain made by putting your thumb on your nose and wiggling your fingers.[5] This gesture is also known as Anne's Fan or Queen Anne's Fan,[31] and is sometimes referred to as cocking a snook.[32]

In the beginning, right after youngest daughter was diagnosed, I started growing my hair long. 

It wasn't a fashion choice.  More of a survival strategy.  

I was paralyzed with the fear of leaving our home, our daughter, our diabetes.

Yes, it was "our diabetes" as she was just a mere three years old, obviously way too little to be able to manage any of it.

During those early months, I stopped scheduling appointments of any kind.  Haircuts were the least of it.  No more doctor appointments.  No car maintenance appointments.  No social gatherings. 

No Nothing.  Zip.  Zilch. Nadda.

Mostly because I was paralyzed with the fear of what would happen if I was actually stranded in the appointment and something went wrong with our diabetes care plan. 

What in the world would I have done?

And so my hair grew. 

I even (feeling very ashamed to admit this) completely wasted a gift card for a hair cut from my dear husband because at the time, I was just too overwhelmed with trying to figure out one.more.thing. 

Now to be clear, diabetes did not stop me from doing for the children.  Kids first, diabetes second.  I continued to push to have them do everything that they wanted.  They needed haircuts?  Done!  They needed play dates?  Done!  Preschool?  Of course! 

Just me.  I couldn't walk away for a moment.
And I didn't feel very good about myself.  Not at all.  Already flirting with a little sadness induced depression from having my baby girl diagnosed with an incurable and extremely life-altering auto-immune disease, I knew that the clock was ticking towards a full-blown meltdown.

I had to get a handle on getting my MOJO back.  (I also wrote a little bit about finding TRUST again here.)

It started with a hair cut and establishing a plan for what to do in case diabetes decided not to behave.  Part of the plan was realizing that things won't go smoothly every time I step away.  That fact is just part of life but I had to re-learn it through actually putting myself out there and stepping away.

And believe me, even with a plan, the diabetes monster struck loudly.  Times where I have squirmed in my chair willing the clock to hurry so that I could rescue my child (or now children with type 1 diabetes).

I was once again reminded of this as I had my hair cut today.  My phone is set to "chirp", each time our beloved Miss D (youngest daughter's aide) calls with diabetes questions.  Just as I am having my hair cut and in the position of  DO NOT MOVE OR YOUR EAR WILL BE SNIPPED OFF LIKE VANGOGH, the phone releases it's diabetes swan song.

I wait for the natural pause in the cutting before going after the phone, which is tucked into my bag (and at the same time cursing myself for not holding it in my lap - even though I despise those trendy I-Phone people who carry their phones everywhere) and trying my best to not look alarmed in front of my hair stylist.

After a moment, I realize that the message is about a minor low at 68 and the correction food given.  I know that youngest daughter is safe and our care plan is working, but even with that calming thought, I am still tense throughout the rest of the appointment.  Mostly because I am reminded that the diabetes monster is lurking constantly.


To the People of the World:  No type 1 diabetes does not go away because I am at the hair salon. 
Perhaps it will always be a struggle to not let my MOJO get taken away.  I honestly do not know.  It would be so tempting to revert to those early days where my girls were with me constantly and the only appointments we made were ones that we attended together.

Moments later, my salon chair is turned back around and I am offered a hand held mirror to see the difference in my curly locks.

Suddenly, I am ten years younger and no longer look like the Shaggy Dog.
My hair is beautiful; cut and styled perfectly which makes me smile happily.

I deserve this.  A moment to feel beautiful.

Screw you diabetes monster.