Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Family Diabetes Camp


Attention Families and Friends from Michigan and those willing to travel.....

Many of the parents that I speak with often are hesitant when it comes to making the leap to try T1D camp.  While our family personally adores everything about camp (it's magic I tell you!!!), I do understand the initial apprehension.  Those first few months are often overwhelming with just managing the challenges of living with T1D day to day  (or even hour to hour for those ping-pong days).  Adding in a camp experience can feel insurmountable.  How do you send a child to an overnight experience when you are still learning?  

It can be done!  We are proof of that.  And so are many, many other happy campers.  Yes, I think it is OK to be cheesy with camp slogans because, well, it is just the magic of camp.  Big kids and little kids LOVE it. 

My friends at the ADA have come up with a wonderful solution.  To help parents and kids ease into the transition of attending camp, they have developed a program for families to experience overnight camp together.  

This is also a wonderful time to reunite with summer campers and to recreate some of the fun memories that were had the previous year.  And because this is for families, parents can meet other caregivers of T1D and share in the camaraderie of walking the same path in life.  I have also been reassured that there are sessions that will be kids only and others that are parent only, so while you are having fun together as a family, you won't feel like you are on top of one another.  It's the best of both!

Lastly, camp recognized that many of the graduated campers wanted just one more time together in having fun.  To make this happen, the ADA created a special Young Adult Retreat.  Parents are not necessary for this age group.  Instead, the young adults (a mix of new, first time campers and alumni ages 18-25) can meet up for a weekend of bonding and silly shenanigans.  There will also be new information on technology, living your best life with T1D and more!  

Details are below.  Enjoy!

Registration is now OPEN!
February 9-11, 2018

This overnight family retreat offers a family bonding experience while celebrating and learning more about your child’s diabetes. Physicians will be there to speak and educate parents about upcoming diabetes trends as well as overall diabetes wellness. Children will be able to enjoy all sorts of winter activities while staying at the YMCA’s Camp Copneconic. Cost per person is $75 this includes all food, lodging, education and fun activities. Children ages 5-17 only. Check in will be at 7 pm Friday, February 9 and check-out will be at 11 am Sunday, February 11, 2018.

Camp alumni and young adults, ages 18-25 with diabetes, are welcome to join us that same weekend for the “Young Adult Retreat,” for fun activities, ice breakers, meet-and-greet opportunities with doctors, and more! Check in will be at 7 pm Friday, February 9 and check-out will be at 11 am Sunday, February 11, 2018. Cost per person is $75 this includes all food, lodging, education and fun activities.

Register for either retreat with the link below!

For any questions on either retreat please feel free to contact:
Krista Lang
Camp Manager

300 Galleria Officentre, Suite 111
Southfield, MI  48034
1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)


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Not long ago, as my daughter and I were picking up some random groceries for the ever-empty-teenagers-eat-everything pantry, my cell phone suddenly shrilled the loud, needy and attention demanding BEEP of blood sugar rising.  My youngest daughter, not immune to the sound, looked towards me annoyed but dutifully began pulling out her pump to add insulin. 

((And yes, she did this without first checking on a meter, something that perhaps could be considered outside of protocol - because at this stage of 'teenager', my battle isn't with perfection, it is with just taking action.)) 

As she swiftly adjusted her insulin dose, my eyes locked onto a little kid about four years of age, standing just a few feet away.  Holding my breath, I wondered how this little person staring would affect her mood and future resistence to feeling like she wasn't always fitting in.  Staring can do that, especially when it happens frequently, and to a young person that may or may not always feel 100% confident.  In this exact moment, there was no escaping the laser locked focus of someone clearly witnessing something they had never before witnessed.

Side-note: Zoo animals have nothing on us. I get you Mama Giraffe.

Enraptured by my daughter's cool electronic device, he softly whispered "Wowwwww" and stared as she pushed buttons, making her pump whistle the delivery of insulin and shrill another beep once complete.  His mom intently reading labels was either immune to what was happening or delicately trying not to also stare. 

The little boy, unable to no longer keep his excitement quiet, pointed and said, "What is that?"

"My insulin pump.  It gives me medicine."

The little boy solemnly nodded his head and said, "That's cool". 

Watching the interaction with amusement, I am certain that the words insulin pump although meaningless, intuitively felt significant.  Clearly he understood the universal medicine. 

He then asked, "Do you feel better?"

My daughter smiled and said, "I do feel better." 

Her reassurance in feeling better satisfied any further questions and a moment later, he shared "I have this", and holding out his hand, he unveiled a very sticky, wet piece of what we call ABC gum - already been chewed. 

Despite it's clearly unhygienic display, my daughter made no show of disdain and simply replied, "That's cool." 

A moment later and each waved a friendly good-bye, parting ways and probably forgetting the entire exchange of curiosity.

Later, sharing the story with my husband, he offered an interesting thought. 

In a world of 'differences', wouldn't it be nice if we all just accepted with a 'that's cool?' and then moved on?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Diabetes and Halloween

Recently, our small community received the news of three new families now living with T1D.  As always (now through a cure) my heart not only breaks but I also feel this long inspired determination to help each newcomer adapt and adjust to the best life with T1D possible.  Because I am on a kick with Twitter hashtags @natsweetsisters, these are a few of my favorites: 
#togetherwecan #improveT1D 

They kind of ring a perfect bell, right?  The girls and I think so too!

Along with that, I have spent over a decade testing the analogy that within T1D, kids are first and diabetes is second.  Always.  I firmly believe that we can live our lives in the fullest manner possible if we remind ourselves of that cherished motto.  There are no limitations when you decide how best to fit T1D INTO YOUR LIFE and not, fitting your life into T1D.  Wash and repeat.  It's a powerful, cleansing mantra! 

And it works well, especially during the Halloween holiday madness. 

To begin with, just ask yourself a few questions.

1.)  What was Halloween like before T1D?
2.)  What would you like Halloween to be like after T1D?

My guess is that most of us, would enjoy a carefree Halloween just as it was before T1D.  The great news is that is VERY doable!  The lesson that I learned regarding food and holidays, is that to children, it is NOT about the candy.  It is about the gathering, counting, bragging and admiring of the candy.  On Halloween, kids are working to amass as much candy as quickly as possible.  If you have ever observed the evening shenanigans, you might have noticed costumed children literally running from door to door.  The little (and big) kids barely slow down in their efforts to ring as many doorbells as possible.  It is one of the reasons that masks are not as favored; the kiddos need to see to be able to run while avoiding sprinklers, lawn art and benches.  The same spirit of excitement holds true at fun Halloween style carnivals and Trunk-or-Treat events. Kids run and parents yell, "Slowwwwww down!".  I don't know about you, but mysteriously, on Halloween, my kids could never hear me. 

Once the speed candy gathering has ended, there is often a need for some of that beloved candy.  Blood sugars that spiked in excitement, start to regress and drop as blood sugar moves down.  A well timed sugary treat is often wonderful and as parents, the value of the gathered candy increases.  Suddenly, the candy isn't as much of a nuisance as it is a refreshingly 'free' replenishment of low blood sugar goodies.  Thank you to our friends and neighbors for helping out! 

As you wind your way back home, the tabulating and bragging begins. Many kids do not want to even eat the candy at the start as it will take their stash of 45 snickers and 26 kit kats down by one.  After a round of selfie candy pictures, the kids like the idea of knowing that it is their candy and will place it into a special plastic container marked with their name and attempt to hide it within the family pantry. 

You may notice the volume increase within your house.  Giggly stories may be shared about the family that gave handfuls of full size candy-bars or about the one odd house that passed out coupons.  Soon after, quiet resumes and bedtime will ensue and then, Halloween will be another happy memory just as it was before T1D. 

Here are a few fun ways to continue to enjoy Halloween:

1.)  Print up Halloween Carb Candy Counts and bring them along as you Trick-Or-Treat.  I also like to tape a set onto the plastic container or bag that will hold the candy within the pantry before we return home. That way, everything is ready to be stored and if someone wants to eat it without me, I have a much higher chance of seeing an appropriate bolus. 

2.) If some of the candy is not suitable, make sure you clearly discuss the reasons with your child (Chewy candy for braces, nut candy for allergies, scary weird serial killer candy that should be thrown out).  Try not to say "because of T1D".  After all, we know that all of our kids can eat a healthy, balanced variety of foods, which for kids includes the occasional sweet treat. 

3.) If a Halloween Witch came to take the candy BEFORE T1D, then a Halloween Witch may want to come after T1D.  The best way to make a relaxed and fun evening is to follow the pattern that you had prior to diagnosis. 

4.) Serve a well planned meal before heading out.  Running around the neighborhood takes a lot of energy.  As part of the festivities, our family likes to enjoy a fun meal of mummy hot dogs, ghost cheese shapes and crackers, veggie monsters (use toothpicks to create fun characters with broccoli, olives, carrots and celery.  Cream cheese makes great eyeballs) and lots of ghoulish water - black water (our Kroger store carries this) is a fun treat for setting the theme of the evening. 

As a bonus idea, if your loved one with T1D is using multiple injection therapy, having food available for a meal after the trick-or-treating is a wonderful way to blend the carbs of candy into the carbs of dinner.  No extra injection needed.  Going forward after Halloween, it is easy to add a few treats to each mealtime bolus injection to avoid extra shots too. 

5.) Have friends join in the fun.  This is a neat way to help show the world that T1D is limitless, even on Halloween.  Your loved one with T1D can do anything that they want!  Including enjoying a caramel apple or a butterfinger.  Or three.

Happy Halloween!

From the Naturally Sweet Sisters

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sometimes It's Not About Diabetes But It Always Is

Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, tree, grass, sky, outdoor and natureMy sweet girls are having the time of their lives during this fall season of golf.  Our oldest was blessed with conquering her challenging 'flop shot' and suddenly, her score dropped from low 90's to upper 70's.  (Side note: If you do not follow golf, getting rid of points means that you are doing great!) At the same, our youngest found herself placed in the number 2 position as a freshman on our varsity squad.  At 13 years old, she is competing with senior girls and holding her own, often besting her partners and pulling in top 10 rankings.  It is quite a fun moment for a parent to stand between greens and watch one daughter, then the next and feel nothing but joy as your children play with passion.  And did I mention that I really do not even play golf?  Yep, this is one skill that is not mom driven.

Last week, their hard work culminated in a team SEC Conference Championship - a first for their school in many, many years. On top of that, our oldest daughter was Low Medalist for not only the conference tournament but all of the tournaments combined - earning the most points in two divisions (Red and White).  Our youngest daughter proudly came in 5th over all, earning a medal too. The local newspaper took note and interviewed their coach, plus both girls. They also took a few pictures and marketed the article under 'Sister Rivalry', which of course made all of us laugh as never have two sisters been more opposite.  These two are best friends.

The conversation for the interview focused entirely on their golf game.  Readers wanted to know how they got their start, why they chose golf and how it has helped them to learn other skills.  Besides a random picture that cleared showed their Dexcom and infusion sites, there was no mention of golf.

And that was fine.  Sometimes it is not about T1D. 

As soon as the article hit the newstand, I happily 'shared' on a few social media pages amongst relatives and close friends.  With a hearty congratulations from all, there was also confusion as to why T1D wasn't mentioned.  After all, playing 5-6 hour long golf tournaments requires a deep dedication to staying on top of blood sugar management.  One living with T1D can't just forget about the highs and lows despite an activity or event.  Our JDRF Outreach Chair even sent me an email and said while she loved seeing the girls in the paper, she just wished dearly that there was a mention of T1D to inspire other young athletes and parents.

Talking to the girls, I asked how they felt and if they wanted to share that part of their victory; the part of managing the game of T1D.  Without hesitation, they whole-heartily agreed and said they would share with anyone at anytime as it was just as important to know that anything was possible while living with T1D as it was to do their very best at golf.  As my youngest said, "Your dreams don't have to stop because of diagnosis.  I dream all of the time!"  Her sister chimed in and said, "And look at our dreams coming true." They felt so strongly about ensuring that T1D was present and acknowledged for others as this summer, they became involved with the Diabetes Sports Project to showcase how golf and T1D can work well together.  As the only female golfers, they take this role seriously. It's hard enough to get girls involved with golf, but throw T1D into the mix and for many, it can be overwhelming.  Sharing their success will hopefully overcome both issues.  

This week, a second article will be published in which the focus is not only their amazing golf skills, but their efforts toward T1D management, their dedication to the T1D community and what they hope to accomplish as they grow older.

I can't wait to share it with you all as positivity and inspiration is contagious.  Even I feel reinvigorated with T1D care.  It's hard to manage from the fringe. This little boost has helped me too, even though I didn't think I was overly focusing on it.  As a mom though, it's hard not to.  In the deep space of my brain, it is always there.  See, sometimes it's not about the T1D, but it always is.

* To read the article about the SEC Championship, check out this link!
**To learn more about The Diabetes Sports Project and their Champions, including our NaturallySweetSisters, check out this link!