Thursday, July 28, 2016

Decorating Diabetes

Some may agree, and some may not, but I find having cute supplies makes using them so much more pleasant. I only recently discovered this, so I figured I'd share some of my favorite ways to "decorate diabetes".

Myabetic Cases

I've been using my pink Banting wallet from Myabetic for about a month now, and I could not love it more. It is definitely bigger than a usual meter case, which isn't a problem for me as I have a big purse. So let's talk about it's features. It has a little black zipper pouch that you can put your used test strips in. The best part? It velcros on so you can just remove it to empty it. Such a clever invention! It has a netted pocket which can be used for lancets, alcohol swabs, or any other things you usually carry in your meter case. I personally use it for little pieces of paper towel to wipe my finger on. On the other side is a pouch to put your meter in. It'll fit any meter, which is great. My Contour Next USB fits with a lot of extra space. It also has a bunch of little elastic slots for your poker, or insulin pens if you use them.

Pump Peelz

Pump Peelz are essentially stickers to stick on your meters, pumps, Dexcoms and PDMs. I have to say that when you discover pump peelz, there's really no going back. You're probably never going to want to see your meter or your pump naked again. They have some great patterns and designs on the website, but there's also an option to customize your own peel with whatever image you want. Keep in mind some images will work better than others. If you use a photo of someone's face, most of it will be cut out from the template. I have to say that I am so impressed when how well these things stick. My mom keeps the same peel on her Dexcom for a month before changing it, and she showers every morning with it. Even when it comes time to change it, the corners are all still stuck down with no problems at all. It is also run by a truly lovely couple, Scott and Emily, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Friends for Life.

This is the Ice Cream peel, which is a pre-made design from Pump Peelz. This one has been great for summer.

This is a custom peel I made during the spring. I love floral and I love the colors in this image I found on google.


Lastly, I recently started decorating my test strip bottles with Washi tape. It's so much fun. I love the one I used on my new bottle today. You can buy Washi tape at Michaels, which is where I bought mine, or for even cheaper on eBay.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Friends for Life

Friends for Life is a conference put on yearly by Children with Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. This year my parents and I decided to make the trip and go, and it was the best decision we've made in a long time. I have so much to say about my experience that I almost don't know where to start. This year had over 1800 people attending, all either someone with Type 1 Diabetes, or someone who loves someone with Type 1 Diabetes. It went from Tuesday until Sunday morning and I am writing this from the flight home feeling pretty devastated that it's over for this year. I'm going to warn you right off the bat that this blog post is going to be a little bit disjointed. Not only am I pretty exhausted from the busy week, but my feelings about my experience are so raw that they're all over the place. 

I want to say that I'm speechless when it comes to my reaction to this amazing conference, but this is a blog, so I can't. I was talking to my mom tonight and I said to her, "It feels so incredible being in a place where you're the 'normal'". People with Type 1 Diabetes everywhere. A place where it's completely routine to pull out your meter and test your blood sugar or inject. A place where "I'm low" or "I'm high" is the usual language. A place where everyone acts like family because we are all in this together. 

Arriving on Tuesday we had no idea what to expect, but we were definitely excited. I was eager to head straight to the registration area, so we went ahead there. We were greeted by friendly faces and given a guide book, name tags with 'first timer' ribbons, and wristbands. The people who had Type 1 wore green bracelets and the people who loved someone with Type 1 wore orange. There was also an additional yellow bracelet for people who had Celiac disease or couldn't eat gluten. 

Over the next two days we went to many sessions by some of the most incredible people in the *DOC. There were multiple sessions going on at the same time so a lot of the time I had trouble picking which one I wanted to go to! Some of the ones I ended up choosing were "Finding Support in the Diabetes Online Community", "Dealing with Burnout", "How to Share Your Family Stories as Powerful Diabetes Advocates", "Is a Career in Health Care Right for You?", "Thriving with Type 1 Diabetes: My NASA Story", and "Diabetes Can Be Complicated". Talking about the DOC was definitely my type of session. It was more of a discussion than a session, and I quickly learned that this is the type of session that I preferred. I enjoyed sitting with my peers and discussing life with Type 1 over sitting down and watching a scientific PowerPoint presentation. Now there is nothing wrong with the more scientific sessions, and my mom seemed to really enjoy those ones, but it's definitely a personal preference. We were encouraged as first timers to leave a session if we weren't feeling it and quietly go into another one so that we could get the most out of it. I have to say that I did do this once with a session that I didn't list here. My personal favorite person to hear speak was definitely Kerri Sparling, the amazing (and equally hilarious) woman behind the blog Six Until Me. I think she truly became a role model of mine during this past week. I would be thrilled to be just like her one day. Throwing humour into diabetes, being an advocate, a blogger, and a friend to everyone, and inspiring people like she inspired me. 

One of my favourite parts was the exhibition hall. It was so much more than what I expected. So many freebies and giveaways, and kind people educating about their products or charities. Kids running around with Snow Cones. Custom hats and bags being made with airbrushes. Pump Peelz being sold. Meet ups with amazing Type 1s like Crystal Bowersox from American Idol, Raelynn from The Voice (who I was particularly excited to meet), and Steven Brickhouse from American Ninja Warrior. Country singers George Canyon and Eric Paslay were also in attendance and performed at events. Omnipod had a station set up for kids and adults alike to decorate demo pods. All the siblings and parents who didn't have Type 1 loved it and wore the pods proudly! It would have been hard to tell who had Type 1 had it not been for the green and orange wristbands!  Like I said, it was one place where having Type 1 was the 'normal', and I think for once the people who didn't have Type 1 actually felt a bit left out!
There was something so special about watching these kids run around with their friends with dexcoms on their arms and looking like they felt proud of it. They were showing off their pumps and running around without a care in the world. They just looked like they felt at home. I always think that I'd love to be a big sister toward kids with Diabetes, but it's really me who is looking up to them. These kids are handling Type 1 like pros.

Now let's talk about the food. The amazing, carb counted food. You heard me correctly. All the food at this event was carb counted for us to save us the hassle, and it felt like heaven. This was one of the things I dreaded missing most going back to real life. I think I drank enough sugar free, carb free fruit punch to last me all year. 

There is a reason this conference is called Friends for Life. At this conference, we are all going through the same thing. The same full time job that is Type 1 Diabetes. The same daily health scares and struggles. Together, we can cry about it and we can laugh about it. I made friends with people less than half my age and people more than twice my age. In 5 short days, I made friends for life. We will keep in touch and reunite with huge hugs next year at Coronado Springs and I can't wait. 

*DOC - Diabetes Online Community

Friday, July 1, 2016

8 Things People with Type 1 Diabetes Want You to Know

As a Type 1 Diabetic, I have to believe that it is one of the most misunderstood diseases out there. This is thanks to it's portrayal in the media and "diabetes jokes", among other things. The truth is, Type 1 Diabetes is a very different disease than Type 2 Diabetes, and about 90% of people with Diabetes have Type 2, which is why this is mainly the type you hear about in the media. Here are some things you should know about people with Type 1:

 1. We didn't get diabetes from eating too much sugar or living an unhealthy lifestyle. Actually, we had absolutely zero control over it and nothing could have prevented it. It is impossible for you to get Type 1 Diabetes from eating that chocolate bar! Type 1 is a serious autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas.

 2. Without insulin, a person will die. Everybody in the world needs insulin. There is no way around it. As a matter of fact, a Type 1 Diabetic can go into a diabetic coma within less than 72 hours without insulin. No amount of healthy eating or exercise will ever eliminate the need for a Type 1 diabetic to receive insulin. We'd definitely have some challenges in a zombie apocalypse.

3. Yes, we can eat sugar! If our blood sugar is high or normal, we just have to give ourselves insulin based on the amount of sugar we eat. If our blood sugar is low, then we would eat the amount of sugar needed to correct the low blood sugar.

 4. Type 1 is a disease of balance. It is constant management of trying not to let your blood sugar go too low or too high. It really is a full time job that you have to be constantly thinking about and managing. If your blood sugar is too high too often, complications can occur. We work very hard to stay alive!

 5. Sometimes Type 1 makes us feel different. Sometimes we have to be careful with our meals and sometimes we have to test our blood sugar at inconvenient times. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes we get tired of the constant work we have to put into it. Sometimes we burn out. Your love and support means the world to us.

6. Some of us use an insulin pump, which is a device that kind of looks like a pager that contains a cartridge of insulin which is delivered into your body through a thin tube. Others use insulin pens or plain old syringes. We have to give ourselves insulin most times we eat.

  7. Despite these challenges, we can do anything! Sebastien Sasseville, who has Type 1, climbed Mount Everest AND ran across Canada. Another Type 1, Dr. Natalie Strand, won The Amazing Race.

8. We want you to know the symptoms, it could truly save a life! Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes include increased thirst, excessive urination, extreme fatigue, unintended weight loss, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, and fruity breath. It most frequently appears in children and teens, but can also show up as an adult!