Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disney - Tips from A 9-Year Old

After writing my series on Disney and Diabetes, both our youngest and oldest daughter were inspired to write up their own version of tips at the parks.  For your viewing pleasure and because ultimately, nothing makes me happier to see my kids using their 'school skills', here is our youngest daughter's tidbits for Walt Disney World.  Hope you enjoy!

Roller coasters: When you are at Magic Kingdom you should always visit the rides first because the roller coasters gets busy fast. I would recommend Splash Mountain if you can handle it. The drop is really fun but still really scary. Splash Mountain is located in Frontier Land. If you are one of those old people or young toddlers you should stick to a small ride such as the Great Goofini. It is a short but fun ride. Also get fast passes to go on the rides faster. They help if you are getting hot or getting bored in line.

Pin trading:  Pin trading is very fun for anyone who wants to do it. You can go online and get Disney pins to trade with at the parks. You can put the pins on anything. I used a lanyard for them. All the Magic Kingdom Cast Members are willing trade with you (but be nice). Look for Hidden Mickeys on all of your pins

Eating: For the old men,  you should go to the food  places at Magic Kingdom and eat your way back to the ladies that are shopping for cute things. If you are really hungry go to Epcot they have really good food. Magic Kingdom has a couple good restaurants, like Pecos Bill. It is located in Frontier land.

 Shopping:  Your kids are probably begging to go shopping or maybe you are too but now when you take a step into Magic Kingdom you can really feel the magic. When you are here you may go shopping at Castle Couture.  It is a very cute store here in Magic Kingdom.  It will put the sparkle on you.

Having fun: Where ever you go and where ever you are you should always have some fun. Remember to do most of these steps and to always have some fun.  

By Youngest Daughter - Age 9

Blood Draws - How Things Change In A Blink!

Youngest daughter is the lucky recipient of two auto-immune diseases; type 1 diabetes AND Hashimotos Hypothyroid. 

You can read a little bit more about her experience with Hashimotos here.

For the most part, neither diagnosis holds her back from enjoying all that life has to offer.  There are though, the days when one or the other disease causes a little too much grief.  If we can't rule out high or low blood sugars as a culprit, we often will turn to a blood draw for some investigation on her hormone levels.

What is most interesting about her hypothyroid diagnosis is how often her thyroid hormone levels will fluctuate, causing discreet symptoms to flare and reappear.  This is not necessarily the case with many children that have Hashimotos.  In fact, one of our dear friends has children that rarely have dosage changes, so in that regard, it is very different from patient to patient.  I also find it interesting that my oldest daughter has perfect thyroid levels and even three years post diagnosis continues to be in range at every check.  Like type 1 diabetes does not necessarily develop in every person with a genetic connection, neither does Hashimotos.

Youngest daughter's chief complaint is, and always has been, leg pain.  As a mother, nothing is worse than seeing your child tear up from feeling aches and having absolutely no way to make them go away, even with warm baths, ibuprofen and other miscellaneous attempts to calm her.  The only true way to discover what is going on is through labwork where her TSH, T3, T4 and Free T3, T4 are carefully reviewed.  For as much as our youngest daughter hates blood work, when she is feeling her leg pain, she will practically volunteer for the poke. 

Can I just say how sad that is for a nine-year old?  Sigh.

Once again at our recent pediatric endocrinologist appointment, both youngest daughter and I mentioned a few of the random symptoms that she had been feeling.  Headaches and leg pain topped the list - with youngest daughter sharing that during her dance class, the pain was so strong that she couldn't even stand on one leg during the barre exercises. 

Hearing a child talk so openly and candidly about her situation is certainly a compelling reason to head into the nearest lab to check TSH levels.  Which we did, immediately upon receiving our blood draw script.

And sure enough... TSH had elevated just a tiny bit from 3.00 to 3.50.  This small jump is enough to cause symptoms to flare in many individuals.  It also completely validated youngest daughter's worries as with her symptoms, you can not actually see anything with the naked eye - except maybe an enlarged gland (goiter) but that would be from very high levels of TSH.  A tiny bit of an increase in her Levothyroxin will eventually, (as it does take about six weeks to build up in her system) help decrease her symptoms.  Not to mention that if we waited, with all of her impending growth, we could find ourselves dealing with a much bigger problem in 3 more months - and a much unhappier child. 

Like I have mentioned before, this is just one pill a day.  That's all that is required for her to continue being a happy kid.

While I wish she didn't have 'one more thing', I am so glad that we can help her to to solve this and I am also so glad that she will be back to feeling like any other healthy 9-year old should! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eyes and Feet - Check, Please!

One part of my daughters' visit to our endocrinologist includes a foot exam.  While this is a consistent part of our endocrinology appointment, some pediatric endocrinologists never even look at the feet.  Because of this discrepancy in routine, I thought it might be a good idea to put a little reminder of what to look for on the blog.

From the American Diabetes Association Website:

Caring for Your Feet
  • Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  • Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health team.
  • Ask your doctor about Medicare coverage for special shoes.
  • Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
  • If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
  • Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
  • Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two (2) or three (3) times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time. Don't smoke.
  • Get started now. Begin taking good care of your feet today.  Set a time every day to check your feet.
I also want to add that my girls love having at-home-pedicures, so for all of those moms of daughters living with type 1 diabetes, this is a great way to carefully look over the piggies AND make them as cute as can be.  Bonus for our female endocrinologist that gets a kick out of seeing what colors and fashions that the girls are wearing:)  Yes, it is the little things that often make the long appointments fun!

Another part of my daughters' visit to the endocrinologist always includes a reminder to have another appointment for annual vision screening at our friendly Ophthalmologist office.  Over the years, I have adjusted the dates so that the annual visit occurs in the summer, when our schedule is at its most lazy (if that is even possible!).  It helps to take a little bit of the stress out of having to have just one more appointment.  After all, to my girls, it seems that we are constantly at the "doctors" office.

But to make that appointment happen, I have plan ahead as appointments for diabetic eye screening usually are more comprehensive and tend to take a little bit longer. 

From the American Diabetes Association:

When to See an Eye Care Professional

  • If you are between 10 and 29 years old and have had diabetes for at least 5 years, you should have an annual dilated eye exam. - Side note: Our endocrinologist recommended this as soon as both girls were diagnosed in an effort to get a baseline to work from.  Your endo may have a different idea.  It is great to discuss and decide what to do together.
  • If you are 30 or older, you should have an annual dilated eye exam, no matter how short a time you have had diabetes. More frequent exams may be needed if you have eye disease.
  • If you have any changes in your vision.
  • You should have a dilated eye exam if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. 
 After you receive the eye screening results, another good reminder is to either have the Ophthalmologist fax a copy directly to your endocrinologist or make you an extra copy to bring along to your next appointment.  By keeping this communication, you will be able to ensure that all caregivers are up to date on the latest developments and able to thwart any potential problems quickly and easily! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Study, Study, Study - Anything Look Good?

Study, Study, Study!

Every year, we end up participating in some sort of research study for patients and families living with type 1 diabetes.  With deep consideration (because we are parenting young children), the majority of our study input has been relatively non-invasive and taken very little time or effort on our part.  Regardless, I always feel like it is part of our responsibility to help where we can.  Maybe, just maybe, by doing so we are stepping the greater DOC closer towards that CURE we all want.

If your clinic or endocrinologist office does not offer or provide information on current type 1 diabetes research studies, you can click HERE to see a full listing of what is out there right now.  The list is broken down by state and country - yes, a global effort is underway to help us get closer to a CURE. 

Even if you decide not to participate in anything (which is perfectly fine too!), it might make you feel a little bit happier to know that science really is working on solving the many mysteries of having type 1 diabetes.  Personally, whenever I hear of things like this, I get sooo excited and so do my girls! 

If you are participating in a research study, please post a little overview of what it is and what the goal hopes to become in achieving the final results. 



Monday, January 28, 2013

A1c - Want to Know?

As a parent who is leery of over emphasizing the A1c (good or bad), I thought it might be interesting for you to know where my own two daughters fall into the scale of quarterly numbers.

Before I do, I want to clarify a few things.

As we all know, this is a variable number which is subject to change and does NOT account for much of LIFE.  I want to demystify the idea that raising kids with type 1 diabetes should mean that we are "regulated" and have numbers in the low 6's.

Um, no.

There is no such thing as regulating a pancreas in a person living with type 1 diabetes.

Especially when that person is living in their own body (not yours) and is growing at the rate of 1-2 inches (sometimes even more) and gaining at least 1-2 pounds every three months.  Dare I even mention the P-word?  Oh my!

And did I explain that person is a child who is often being invited to birthday parties, holiday festivals and taste-testing their way through Costco? Heck, even the car wash dude passes out two lollipops to her just because she is cute?  You don't think she throws those away, do you?

If you think those are excuses, well they aren't.  But they are good examples of raising our kids with the idea of "kids first, diabetes second".

That "kids first, diabetes second" is a very important part of raising healthy minded (and bodied) children.  What we risk by strictly counting calories, limiting choices or creating the idea that food is BAD, is instead, raising a child who might choose to sneak food, have poor self-esteem and make uneducated choices in their own diabetes care as adults.

What we don't want to do is create "adults depressed, diabetes distressed."

We, as parents, want to create a healthy environment that teaches children to listen to their bodies, take care of it through good nutrition and lots of exercise - all while enjoying an occasional treat AND counting carbohydrates AND dosing insulin.

Well, than if you understand these nuances of life and are now sitting there and wondering if your child's A1c is good enough?  I am here to tell you that it is. 

What you are striving for is to connect with your child, foster an environment of caring, nurturing, teaching to continually educate you and your loved one living with type 1 diabetes.   Around here, we use the A1c as a guide to help remind us where we are headed and what we would like to try to do differently.

  • Perhaps it is focusing on bolusing 15 minutes before eating dinner.
  • Maybe it is to make sure our tween is entering her blood sugars (all of her blood sugars) back into the pump, so we have a better focus of what is happening.
  • Or perhaps, we are even seeing an A1c that is suspiciously too low and maybe we want to try to wear a CGM for the first time to catch some hidden blood sugars.

Whatever it is you use to do with the information, the A1c is simply a moving target to help remind you to take action in your own diabetic care. 

What the A1c is not:
  • A Gold Star
  • A Validation for Parent of the Year
  • A Scarlett Letter
  • Or anything to be used to judge a family or loved one whom is living with type 1 diabetes

I always find it sad to hear one parent bragging up an A1c or talking down another.  It makes me wonder how their endocrinologist is teaching the family too.  Do they get a positive praise for only so-called good A1c's and sharply reprimanded for bad ones? 

I hope not. 

An A1c is what it is and you can guarantee that it will change several times (probably too many to count) during the time we have until a CURE.  Until then, if you see someone struggling or wondering if the have a good enough A1c, give them a hug and remind them of all the work and love that they put into their child's care.  And yes, it is most definitely good enough!

Youngest daughter, age 9:  7.8 HbA1c
Oldest daighter, age 11:  8.2 HbA1c

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Did You Know About Children Special Health Services

If you live in Michigan and you have a child that is living with type 1 diabetes, that you may qualify for Children Special Health Care Services?   

To find out more, visit:

Or call the CSHCS Family Phone Line at 1-800-359-3722 to see if you qualify. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not All Visits Go As Planned

In the spirit of talking candidly and openly about type 1 diabetes and our family, I decided to tell you a little bit of the story that happened during our A1c appointment.

Remember my happy Facebook announcement that our endocrinology department was adding forms to their online document center?  Well, as joyfully happy as could be, I quickly downloaded two sets of the forms, printed and completed them in advance of our appointment.  (As a side note, we usually receive the forms upon check-in and am given about five minutes to race through them before being called back.  x2.  Yes, a huge stressor.)  Seeing the option to print them out ahead of time and complete them in the luxury of my own home was like having a dream come true. 

With that extra bit of happiness in my pocket, the four of us checked into the main floor and happily waited to be called back - with me feeling as relaxed as I have ever felt at the start of the appointment.

In the usual five minutes, we were escorted to the vitals area and the girls were both weighed and measured.  A short time later, we were in the room where we would remain throughout our visit - a nice little four chair villa, without a view! 

A1c and blood sugar checks were completed and then, a nurse that we had been introduced to but not really "met" came into our room. 

Now here is the thing.  I am always prepared for these appointments.  This appointment, maybe even more so due to having completed the forms at home.  I had our log books with print-outs from our Animas Ping pumps (full color, my friends!) and every blood sugar from the past two weeks.  I had changes that I made throughout the quarter and information on scripts ready to go.  All of this fine documentation is housed in three ring binders, neatly collated and with identification from each child. 

The new (er) nurse started to open the binder and remove only the forms from the hospital's website.  I stopped her and explained that everything she would need was actually in that binder and she would want to give that to our endo.  She sighed loudly and put the papers back into the flap on the binder and walked out.

I wiggled my eyes at my husband to see if he noticed anything and he wiggled his back.  The vibe from the nurse was strange and almost immediately, we felt a little uncomfortable.  Shaking it off and talking to my silly kids, I thought maybe it was just something in that moment.

A few minutes more and the newer nurse comes back in and is obviously agitated.  She is holding the print-outs from the hospital website and says that I didn't fill them out correctly as there is no total daily basal rate on the form.  I shook my head no and explained that I did notice that was missing from the form, so instead I wrote it on another space and also marked it in the binder as to show the corresponding data. 

She sighed again and became even more upset and said, "Well, I didn't bring the binder with me.  I guess I will have to go back and get that to look.  You have to show me it."

Now at this point, I am barely able to look around the room.  My cheeks are flushed and I am feeling very uncomfortable.  It was as though I was being scolded for doing my homework incorrectly.   However, I have no time to think about it because she is quickly back in the room and demanding to know what I wrote for basal rates and where it was located on our sheets.

I point out what I referred to and she shakes her head again and says this is not what she wanted.  She needed FIVE days.  Besides that she tells me that she wants different basal rates - not what we actually gave our children through the pump, but what the pump is programmed to give them.


I have no idea what she means and I say that. 

And this is where it really went south....

The nurse gets very angry and tells me that I am going to have to add up every basal rate by hour because she is NOT going to do that.  She says that I need to figure it out in our pump and that she doesn't know anything about Animas pumps.  She tells me to take the pumps off the girls - RIGHT NOW! - and start looking.

My husband jumps up from his seat and starts frantically looking through the binder.

I don't know what to do, so I walk over to the girls and ask for their pumps.  They are confused and it takes them a moment to realize that I really need to see their pumps.  They disconnect and hand them over so that I can also frantically scroll through the settings to see what this nurse is talking about. 

All the while she is talking loudly and strongly about us being "wrong about the basal rates". 

Then finally, she sees a screen that has the number she wants (for anyone with an Animas Pump it is a number at the top of Basal Rate Settings). 

Here is the kicker.... the rates that I gave her were something like 8.189 for youngest daughter (actual) while the rate in the pump was set for (8.200).  Are you kidding me?

She never said anything after that - just walked off in a huff and taking my binders with her.

My husband and I sat there staring at each other, almost forgetting that our daughters were in the room and saying, "What a b&*$^!"

My hands were shaking, my heart was pounding and my eyes were wide as could be.  I couldn't fathom why anyone would act that way.... over a basal rate? 

When she came back into the room with the binders, I spoke her name and said that after her behavior to us, that I did not think she was welcome in our room anymore and would she please leave.

Never before (we are talking over six years of T1d care at this clinic) have I ever felt the need to say that to anyone.  Not once. 

We continued on with the appointment and I know the office staff was probably thinking it was a mutual problem and consoling her (later heard that she was indeed very upset too) but I stay strong in my knowledge that we did absolutely nothing to become the target of her rage at not having the right basal rate.  We simply were at the right place and at the right time for her to let off some pent up anger.

In front of my children, though?

That stinks, I know.  But we are all human beings and NONE OF US are perfect.  Not me, my husband or my daughters, that is for certain.  However, since my daughters were witness to seeing her anger and were also watching my reaction (intently as only children can do), I had to make ammends before we left the office.

As we walked out of our room and as we entered the exiting reception area, the new nurse caught up with us and nervously handed the girls a print-out on the revised food pyramid.  She didn't meet my gaze or say anything to my husband or I.  Instead, after she finished talking to the girls (who were obviously scared of her and didn't say a peep while she talked), I asked if I could speak with her privately in the hallway.

She agreed and I told her that I was disappointed with the way things were handled by her and I asked her to leave our room because the hospital has become our home away from home.  In dealing with diabetes, this is our life, I explained.  It was not ok to make any of us feel badly for trying to take care of our children  or for not understanding what or why she wanted something and if she was making them or us feel uncomfortable, than she should not be there.  We didn't have time for that. 

The nurse was crying and telling me that she didn't even realize that she came across that way.  She said she didn't mean to be harsh or anything like that.  The tears were flowing and I felt so bad for her.... in a way that I would for anyone who is obviously struggling with something big - and I don't honestly think it was me, our family or basal rates.  Her anger came from something much bigger than probably anyone will ever know and that is just.... well, sad.

I told her that I wasn't going to hold onto any resentment and that I wasn't mad at her.  In fact, I explained how she could try again with us in three more months because we would be back with our diabetes.  I just hoped that she wouldn't be angry or upset when we saw her.

She agreed and I offered her a hug - which she took.

And now, I just feel numb and a little mixed up at who really is the patient... 

The thing about living with a disease for this long is that you kind of forget what you go to these appointments for.  I think that might be a dangerous thought to have... because really, at the end of the day, our family needs the advice, encouragement and strength to get through another 3 months. 

What we don't need is unkindness.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Field Trips - Dr. Who Knew

Photo: Livy on stage as water molecule h2o
Water Molecules As "Ice"

Today, my youngest daughter invited me along to one of her final elementary school field trips.  With only a couple more fun events like this on the horizon, I decided to seize the moment and tag along.  Since this particular trip included a visit to the planetarium and a science museum, we were both very excited. 

The day went smoothly.  We did manage to take in a few lovely memory moments such as investigating treasures recovered from sunken ships in the great lakes, touching soft wholly mammoth fur and wishing we were the keepers of the museum's large gem collection. 

My youngest whispered into my ear, "Diamonds and gems look good on every girl", and all I could do was wholeheartedly agree.

Photo: Livy on stage as water molecule h2o
H2o ready to boil

Finally, our day ended in the Science Auditorium, where a bearded professor (just think of the comic book type nutty professor), full of energy asked for several audience participants to help him conduct "important" experiments.  Almost instantly, my youngest was happily chosen to be a water molecule. On stage, she demonstrated to the various classrooms, different ways water moved or stood still depending on the state of matter it was in.  Her performance was a raging elementary success!

After a few other "matter" demonstrations (silly putty, garbage bag tearing and liquid crystals), the bearded professor was ready to move on to conducting energy.  But before doing so, he said this:

"Is there anyone here who is wearing a hearing aide?"

"Is there anyone here who is wearing a heart pacemaker?"

The kids on stage ready to do the experiment just shook their heads no.  Then, the beard professor said this:

"Is there anyone here who is wearing an insulin pump?"

And all of the kids turned and looked toward my youngest daughter (who at this point, done with being a water molecule was quietly sitting in the audience). 

Me, fearing the worst, looked at her too. 

Fully expecting to see her looking bashful or even possibly upset that kids were staring; instead, she sat gazing back at her peers with a big smile.

Puzzled and not sure what to make of it, I turned my head back to the presentation and watched the rest of the electrical experiments which included a static electricity ball and a wheel lighting up a light bulb. 

Later in the car on the drive home, I casually asked my youngest daughter how she felt about the bearded professor mentioning type 1 diabetes.  She said, "I thought it was kind of weird."  I nodded my head in compassion and said, "Did having the kids look at you make you feel uncomfortable?", assuming that was where she was headed with her answer.

"Oh no", she said.  "I wasn't upset at all.  I thought it was sweet that they thought of me.  My friends were watching out for me and wanted me to be safe.  I liked knowing that they care about me." 

Listening to her literally took my breath away.  This absolutely was not the answer that I expected to hear.  In the hours since this conversation took place, I am still reeling. 

My worries were so unfounded and I am so saddened by the way that I was leading her... almost making her say something that wasn't even there. 

How incredible that once again, she is teaching me....  about acceptance, tolerance and peace. 

Through this blog, she is also teaching the world.

This is what Naturally Sweet Sisters is all about.

Thursday, January 24, 2013



13 degrees on Monday.

1 degree on Tuesday.

9 degrees on Wednesday.

Yes.  It is cold.  Really cold.  The kind of cold that makes me want to stay indoors all day long and dream of tropical escapes.  Walt Disney World, anyone?

Really though, even though this is cold, it is really just cold in my perspective.  I had a friend remark on Face book of how the temperature were plummeting to -30 degrees. 

Did I read that right?  -30 degrees? 

Yes, that really IS cold.

So in thinking about the frigid weather, I am also thinking about how great it has been for blood sugars.  Other than MY mishaps with a bent cannula and Tuesday's unfortunate missed bolus (which I didn't blog about but am telling you about now), the girl's blood sugars have been really good.

Which brings me to a couple of theorized points on why this happens.

  • Possibly better numbers from reduced activity blood sugar swings because like me, my girls just want to hibernate and stay in bed all day too.
  • Maybe our insulin, Apidra, is staying more potent for a longer period of time due to being constantly "chilled" and allowing less natural decomposition to it's delicate composition.
  • Or how about this theory that our bodies are working harder and thereby burning more calories/carbohydrates faster to keep us warm all of the time?

Whatever it is, despite the cold temperatures, I like it and my little ladies like it too.  You know how you can tell when diabetes is impacting them the least?  When giggles reverberate through the entire house.  Now, that is a GREAT sound!

And I especially like this little heater under my desk designed to keep my toesies a little warmer too!

Sending heated greetings to you all too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sticky, Sticky, Sticky - Walt Disney World

You asked for it and so we delivered it! has a new sticky topic on the homepage with all of the corresponding links to the Walt Disney World Series

You can click here to view it anytime you want without having to google search or scroll back through the old pages. 

And as a side note, I want to tell your how much I have loved hearing from you regarding your love of Walt Disney World too.  Your feedback has been delightful and inspiring to me too!  Thank you for all of your support and encouragement to keep writing!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life And All It's Yuck

A Naturally  Not-So-Sweet Sisters Weekend BOTTOM Ten List

1.)  A tree landed on our house - and stayed there- on Sunday night at 2:00 a.m., after a freak windstorm. 

2.)  The stupid traveling tree will be costing us thousands of dollars in repairs.

3.)  I have decided that I hate trees now.  Especially, the deceivingly beautiful tall pines that surround my home.  I think they are all plotting to crash.

4.)  My husband won't let me cut them all down.  Something about a "one in a million" odds of it happening again.  I think the tree has been talking to him.

5.)  To make the weekend better, I took the girls to a local pool and forgot not only towels but extra type 1 diabetes supplies.

6.)  After swimming, both girls needed site changes and I had to use older emergency supplies from our car.

7.)  My girls had some tears over the owie site changes that had to happen in the back seat on quite possibly the coldest day of the year.

8.)  Youngest daughter soared to 347 mg/dl blood glucose before we were able to get a second site change completed.  When we did, because she was high, she cried doubly hard and told me that she hates type 1 diabetes.  I told her me too and added "and trees!" for good measure.

9.)  On removing the site, we found a bent cannula.  I think it was also in cahoots with the trees.

10.)  After all of that, it snowed.  I hate snow too.

The End.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guest Post - T1D Mom Shares Her Story 2 Years Post Dx

On another blog that I co-moderate on for parents of children with diabetes, a fellow mom and friend, Tracy, posted an update on her family's life.  Reaching a new 2 year milestone, she shared how her family is now thriving and how they view type 1 diabetes today.  I was so moved by the story, that I asked for her permission to post it here on Naturally Sweet Sisters.  She graciously agreed and so, without further ado, here is her update in her own words.

Wow! I can hardly believe that it has been 2 years since our life changing diagnosis & hospital stay the week of Christmas.  So much has changed since then. 

Both of our boys are silly, crazy, and growing way too fast.  I am so proud of how both of them have done with all this D business.  Ollie is getting so good at communicating to us how he is feeling low/high and what a difference that makes vs. always guessing what was going on in the beginning when he was only 17 mo.  and brings me peace of mind being in another part of the house now as he comes yelling "MY PUMP BEEEEEEPIN!" when the CGM alerts.  While Cooper is very patient, kind, and caring beyond the ripe old age of 6. 

This month in the car as Oliver's pump was low alerting.  Cooper said, "Sometimes I wish Ollie didn't have diabetes."  (I was calmly freaking out wondering where this conversation was headed) Oliver said innocently, "Why Coopa?"  Cooper looked surprised, paused and said, " never mind."  At the time I was thankful the conversation ended there.  When Cooper and I were alone later I asked him about his feelings and why he said never mind.  He said he thought that Ollie didn't understand when he said that and he didn't want to make him sad.  We talked about how Ollie doesn't know anything different.  I told him that he is so lucky to have an amazing brother like you Coop who loves him so much.  Cooper said, "I'm the lucky one having Ollie for a brother."  Cooper just inspires me. 

We had planned to celebrate this anniversary donating some toys to our Children's Hospital.  I was surprised and over joyed when my neighbors wanted to ride with and brought bags full of toys as well! It was so fun! I thought after that we were done... well...

For a few years now every December I have written a letter about someone in our community that could use some extra help or cheer to a local radio station's Christmas Wish. This year, for the first time, I wrote a wish for our kid and for supplies to continue making pump packs to donate all year around (as at times my sanity seems to come from you ladies on here and my local D mom's who have taught me to sew).  My heart pounded as I received a surprise phone call from a local radio D.J. telling us our Christmas "wish" was granted.  Oliver was even on the radio!  It was more than I could have imagined.  We spent the actual anniversary date at the station, meeting the D.J.'s, taking some pics and the kids got to "play" with the mic! 

And soon we will be back to making packs to donate but with a bigger goal this year as I learned that our endo team there has about 100 newly diagnosed kiddo's per year, working with 800 total.
It was a wonderful way to spend this season. 

Still there are moments when it hits you again, but much more fun with lots of happy tears this time around!

Thank you Tracy for allowing Naturally Sweet Sisters to be a part of your diaversary story.  I think I speak for everyone when I say how moving and touching the glimpse into your home is.  You are inspirational!  Thanks for helping so many families start off in the right direction and also, for reminding of us all of the good that come from a very difficult situation.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Diabetes and Disney - Final Thoughts On Carbs, Fun and Suprises

I hope you have enjoyed the Disney and Diabetes series as much as I did.  It actually made me feel a little bit like being on vacation, even though, I am only sitting at my home in the frozen north.  While spring is still months away, I wanted to leave you with a few more fun Disney World tidbits that I have compiled from many various websites and vacation experiences


Walt Disney World Tidbits
Magic Kingdom
  • When arriving, ask to have a wake-up call.  Make sure your children “answer” the phone.  Surprise on who will be talking on the other endJ

  • Fireworks at Night:  Take the Ferry over to Polynesian and watch the fireworks on the beach.  Even better if you remember to park there in the a.m. when heading into the parks.  Your car will be waiting for youJ  If you have your swimsuits, swim in the pool at night and then watch the Electrical Parade in the lake (light up boats).  Very fun!  While the times can vary, this was the schedule at print:  Polynesian -- 9:00p.m., Grand Floridian -- 9:15 p.m., Wilderness Lodge -- 9:35 p.m., Ft. Wilderness -- 9:45 p.m., Contemporary -- 10:05 p.m

  • Fort Wilderness Campground – Chip and Dale perform in a nightly smores campfires and play outdoor movies.  Free!  While the times can vary, this was the schedule at print:  Campfire lit -6:30. Singalong -7:00, Movies-7:40  Carb Counts would make each smore an average of 24 grams for 1 marshmallow, 2 pieces of Hershey chocolate bar and one full slice of graham cracker (on average - double check with your server to confirm preparation).

  • The Disney World Value Resorts offer lifeguard supervised games around the pool.  Games might include a hula-hoop contest, diving race or relay race.  Candy is given to the winners.  Typical candy includes a small tootsie roll or a dum-dum lollipop.  The bag of candy is located at the life guard stand and you can just ask for a peek if your child wins.

  • At check-in or at any park Guest Services, stop by and pick up a free button for whatever you are celebrating, birthday, anniversary, etc..  You will undoubtedly receive lots of attention from the cast members and maybe even a surprise such as a fast pass.

  • Remember how I mentioned that packing a lunch is a great choice for saving money?  Well it can also be more fun, especially if you eat lunch next to Space Mountain so that you have a front row seat to see Push the Talking Trash Can.

  • If getting autographs from the big mouse or any of those beautiful princesses is your thing, as soon as you enter Magic Kingdom, make a right to retrieve fast passes.  If you have some time before entering the area, make a left, to the barber shop for a haircut with a surprise!  The barber will put pixie dust on the girls and washable coloring on the boys.  A special bonus for babies is that first hair cuts also receive free mouse ears!  After you are done, go back and get autographs using those fast passes you got ahead of time.

  • Riding the train around Magic Kingdom?  Well, if you do, the conductor will often let a child stand in the back and be a  guest conductor, helping push the horn or saying "all aboard" over the microphone.

  • Fireman for the Day - the firehouse, there is an honorary fireman of the day. The fireman will receive special hats and get to ring the bell.

  • Maybe you have heard of those famed turkey legs?  Here is a great reason to get one... zero carbs.  Or, if you feel a sweet tooth, the famous Dole Whip is 17g of carbohydrates.  Another helpful thought is that all of the parks have frozen pre-packaged icecream treats that usually have the carbohydrates printed on the label.  This is very different from the restaurant food that does not offer any nutrition information.  For that reason, if we are waiting for a parade, I will let my kids choose a special treat as I know I can acurately dose for it, with little worry of miscalculating. 

  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Pirates stand outside and try to recruit new children to join in.  Pirate statues inside to “fool” kids when they come off the ride.  Nod hello to the parrot at the entrance and he may talk back to you.  Two entrances to ride.  Left is shorter.

  • Spitting Camel – The big gold camel is at Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, so watch out that you do not actually get wet when walking through the town. Well, unless you want a cool down!

  • If you are the first person in the park, head over to the shooting arcade where all of the rifles are pre-loaded with credits on the park opening. 

  • Please note:  this has been suspended for 2013 or until Big Thunder Mountain Railroad re-opens, but save this for a future idea; Tom Sawyer Island- Find one of the paintbrushes that Tom and Huck left behind and receive a special prize from the cast member.

  • Liberty Square Christmas Shop if you look closely, it's actually three separate shops with the walls opened between them. They are supposed to be owned by three different colonial families- a German family, a woodcarver's family, and a musician's family. Also find the hidden park in the back of the Christmas Shop.

  • Liberty Square Tree - The 13 lanterns hanging in the Liberty Square Tree representing the original 13 U.S. colonies. Its the big tree to the left when facing the Paddle Wheel Boat.

  • Presidential Step - In Liberty Square, there is a gate around a door -- it guards a marble slab that used to be threshold or a step at Monticello. President Jefferson actually walked on it long ago.

  • Spectromagic parade- Watch at Town Hall. When the end of the parade passed us, race to Adventure land . We were able to go on the Jungle Cruise and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets without waiting in line, because most of the people are still watching the parade. Apply the same principle and watch the earlier parade near Frontier Land .

  • Disney Cartoon Shows - Although the Main St. Cinema is gone, old Disney cartoons are still shown, in a small theater, with seats, in Exposition Hall.

  • Mutascopes - Thought they were just for display, but when you put a penny in, they actually work! There are 4 or 5 of them, and some of the light bulbs were burned out so they didn't work, but I know at least two of them did, and it only costs a penny to find out. You put in a penny, start turning a crank and a short silent movie plays for you.

  • Cinderella Castle - Sit on the stone ledge on the right side of the castle, you may hear Stitch giggle and tell you to be quiet because he's hiding.  Try asking the suit of armor for an autograph. What happens??

  • Wake up Tinkerbelle - in her shop called Tinkerbelle’s Treasures, you will find an adorable surprise.  Ring the bell on the counter and Tink flies around the shop and then appears on a flat screen behind the counter. The kids can get pixie dust in their hair too.  Also, do not miss the changing color of Aurora's Ball Gown by the arguing Fairy Godmothers.  My girls are still enchanted by this and they are 9 and 11!

  • Sword and the Stone - near Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel - which might have been moved with the new expansion of Fantasyland in 2013. Guests can attempt to pull out the sword. Used to be part of the "The Sword in the Stone Ceremony" that is no longer performed. It is rumored that every so often someone is still allowed to pull out the sword.  My husband loves this spot as he can remember trying the same thing as a little boy!

  • Willie the Giant When you go to Sir Mickey's Shop in Fantasyland, look at where the roof meets the walls. You will see Willie the Giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk peeking into the shop.

  • Our favorite family ride is Buzz Light-year’s Space Ranger Spin. In the first room, aim for the left arm of the left robot for 100,000 points, and when you are on Planet Z and you see Zurg, hit the bottom target of his space scooter for 100,000 points.  Turn your seat around (the car) and aim at the ORANGE robots arm or the back of the buzz saw.

  • Lilo and Stitch Restrooms – in Cosmic Rays, hear Stitch in the Women’s Restroom talking or looking for Lilo, and hear Lilo in the Men’s Restroom looking for Stitch.

  • Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor – Prepare a kid friendly joke while you are waiting in line for the show.  Then text in before showtime (TV screens will direct you to the phone number).  Sit in third row in the middle and you will be called on as part of the act.


  • At Epcot, do not pack a big lunch for this day!!!  Sample food from around the world.  Crepes in France are really yummy.  England has great fish and chips.

  • Buy a Passport – Get a stamp for each country. The passports are available at gift shops.  Great souvenir.

  • Innoventions Plaza fountain - is a little know place called Club Cool. They serve unlimited free popular drinks from different countries. This is great for low blood sugar moments as there is never a wait and the doors are open all day long!   

  • While Disney will not confirm carbohydrate counts on any of their foods, we did use this list and found it to be very accurate.  Your child or loved one who is living with type 1 diabetes may be different, so use this list as a guide - only. 

Product / Carb amount (per 100ml 3.4 oz)

Beverly / 15g

Kinley Lemon / 13g

Krest Ginger Ale / 9g

Fanta Kolita / 14g

Lychee Mello / 15g

Lift Apple / 11g

Mezzo Mix / 11g

Smart Watermelon / 13g

Vegitabeta / 10g

  • Innoventions Plaza also has a talking drinking fountain.  Look for it next to MouseGear.

  • Japan- In the lower level pavilion, there is a great store selling candy, chopsticks, etc.  The last time we were in the store, there was a stand where you could choose an oyster with a pearl in it $15.00 and the cast member would clean it for you and put it in a cute box.  Also, woman making candy often gives free samples.

  • Japan - on our next trip, I also have learned that there is a man in the back of the store that will personalize Japanese fans for a nominal price.  We haven't tried it ourselves (remember how WDW is always changing?) but I intend to look for him when we go back.

  • Mexico – Take tour with the 3 Calebreos and be delighted by their antics. 

  • Haiti – New for 2012; Kids can color a Bus or a "taptap"  while in Haiti.

  • Morocco – New for 2012; Backyard Fun Bunch.  Get ideas for backyard fun and kids can make a pledge to play, eat and have fun.

  • Norway - Take a boat ride on the Maelstrom, get in the front of the line after getting off the boat. Then when they let you in the theatre you can follow the last group of movie viewers out of the theatre. This saves you the incredibly boring video!  

  • United Kingdom (Britain) - (by Rose & Crown) at EPCOT.  Don't miss the imported crackers & cookies, and candy!  You'll also find fun tea accessories (like cutting boards and aprons), and some really nice (reasonable) jewelry... nice souvenirs that don't scream WDW.  Beatles type music.  Can get autographs from Beatles look-alikes too.

  • America - One show to sit up front on is The American Adventure.  Everyone will push for the middle.  But the best seat is front and center.  You will see every movement and expression made by the characters.

  • An Easter Brunch is usually held each year at the Epcot World ShowPlace located between Canada and the United Kingdom pavilions. Regular Epcot admission is required. You can reserve holiday meals up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).

  • There are also several Easter egg hunts at Epcot.  This is a quietly publicized event and many cast members are not even aware of it until Easter morning.

Animal Kingdom

  • As you are on your way to Harambe Village keep your eye out for the last path to the right after the Tree of Life and before the bridge to Harambe Village. This is the “SECRET PATH”. The front of path is filled with a lot of vegetation so you might have to look hard. Yes it is open to the public. Follow the path for a close look at the Tree of Life and for some great photo spots. Not many people know about this path so you will have a lot of time to yourself and will not be interruptions when you are taking photos. You know those people who ignore the fact that you are taking a picture and walk right in front of you.

  • Lion King Show – Sit on row on floor.  Kids invited to participate.

  • Recycling Game - after getting off KRR and having an ice cream before going into Maharajah Jungle Trek we saw some CMs off to the (left)side. They approached my DD8 and asked if she wanted to play a recycling game. She did. They tried to get other guests to play but no one else would. So my DS and I played too. Basically we threw empty plastic bottle into a basket. The one with the most in won. But then we were all given special Disney recycling pins and a certificate. They called it Recycle Basketbottle and the certificate was presented by the DAK Custodial Team.

  • Get fast passes to the safari ride early as they often run out AND because the animals are more “awake” early in the day.

  • Divine Look for a cast member who is walking in camouflage on stilts at Tree of Life.

  • Behind the Jeep in the boneyard are fossils on the wall.  Touch them.  They are musical!

Hollywood Studios

  • Umbrella - Check out the "Singing in the Rain" umbrella that is attached to one of the streetlights near the old Hunchback theater. Grab the umbrella and step on the black square embedded in the cement underneath it for a nice surprise!

  • Go to Magic of Animation and watch a very fun show!

  • Fantasmic - in our family's opinion, this is one of the best shows at Walt Disney World.  Go early and get a good seat.  It will be worth the wait.

  • In the shop next to Pizza Planet in DHS you’ll see several large wooden packing crates. Try lifting the lids of a few of them.

  • Tower of Terror - when you enter the first staging room (the library), immediately go to the far corner (furthest away from the door you enter the room in).  After the TV presentation, the wall opens up there to the rest of the ride.  At that point, choose the left line - it's quicker.

  • Backlot Studios Tour - if you don't want to get wet, sit on the right when you load the trams. 

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid - don't sit too close to the stage because it takes away from the show.

  • Star Tours - the further back in the spacecraft you are, the rougher the ride.

  • Buy personalized "Guest of Honor" pins at one of the stores on Hollywood Boulevard that sells customized hats, mugs, etc. Cast Members are already friendly and personable, but if you want EXTRA attention and interaction, WEAR ONE OF THESE PINS!

    Hope you have a wonderful Walt Disney World Experience and let us know at Naturally Sweet Sisters if you have a trip coming up or have any questions about spending some time at the most magical place on earth!  Remember, Kids First and Diabetes Second!!!!!