Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New Life as a Part-Time Wheelchair User

Being a new part-time wheelchair user is weird. Or let me rephrase it. It's a weird experience.



After trying a wheelchair with my Occupational Therapist at the rehab centre I was at, I was surprised at how much it helped me. My legs weren't giving out, I wasn't sweating and getting dizzy, and my eyes weren't going blurry. So we went ahead and made the decision that the chair would be a benefit for me and improve my quality of life, and I decided I'd push past the nerves of public judgement.

I knew there would be some adjusting when I started using it just about a month ago. I knew there would be eyes on me. I knew my arms would be exhausted from self-propelling.

As a generally self-conscious person in social situations, I don't like drawing attention to myself in a room. I want to stay with my friends, my people.

Regardless of the chair, I'm already the type of person who worries if a stranger looks at me the wrong way or stares for too long. I automatically start wondering if my I have something on my face, if my fly is undone, or that maybe they just hate my outfit. My mind goes to the worst. And this is something I'm working on and will always be working on.

At the conference this past week, I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere in the giant hotel without it and it was such a great tool. It was confirmation that it was the right decision to start using it. Not to mention I have loving friends who were willing to push me on the carpet while I held their drink. I was with my people, and I knew they'd stare down anyone who gave me any looks.



But on a day like this week where I was dropped off at the mall and went alone with my chair, I didn't feel as safe. People stared, and I didn't blame them, because a wheelchair tends to just draw your eyes. Some people were extremely kind and made room for me to wheel around them. Others watched me trying to get by while they were blocking the aisle, and stood still.

















There is a lot of stigma surrounding wheelchairs. People who don't know wheelchair users, or who are just unaware, sometimes think that everyone who uses their wheelchair are stuck to their chair. They're not necessarily aware that there are multiple uses for wheelchairs. That many wheelchair users can walk, but can't walk long distances, or have a chronic illness and need a chair part time due to their symptoms. So like I've said, no, it's not a miracle when a wheelchair user gets up and walks. But I'll save this for another post, because it'll be long winded.

It's a miracle... she can walk!

















So to some strangers, it's mind blowing to them that they can see me in a wheelchair at the mall during the day, and then see me walking at night.  But during the day, when I’m wanting to do the whole mall, my wheelchair is my savior. At night, if I’m just going into one store quickly, I don’t need it. And sometimes this baffles people. And that’s something I’m going to have to learn to live with.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Is My Coke Really Diet?

If you have Diabetes and you're a soda drinker, there's one thing you know; You're often finding yourself questioning whether the drink you were served is really Diet or not.

I'm the annoying customer always asking my server, "It's Diet, right?", to which they always respond yes... which often leads me to wonder if they actually know that it's really Diet or if they're just in a rush and want to please me.
With Type 1 Diabetes, a regular Coke will cause your blood sugar to skyrocket. For someone like me, who's prone to ketones, that could potentially put me in a really bad situation. Actually, if we're looking at it technically, it could kill me. A mistake like that can technically throw anyone with Type 1 into an uncontrollable downward spiral.

A while back in a Type 1 Support group, I learned a genius trick. If you use your meter and put a drop of the drink in the test strip, you can find out if it's really Diet, or if it's an imposter. I have the Bayer Contour Next USB. If it's Diet, for me, it gives some sort of reading like 1.1 or 1.2 or something around there. If it's not.... what you see in this next photo will happen..



PS- For my US readers who don't use mmol/L, with Diet it was 19.8 mg/dl, and with Regular it was 288 mg/dl.

However, I've been told that some meters don't work properly with this. Someone told me that for their meter, it reads "Error' for both Diet and Regular. In this case, I was just given some great advice by a fellow Type 1 on Facebook, Diastix! When I asked permission to use his screenshot in my blog post, he asked me to share his hashtag with you guys; #WrestlingTheDragon. So here's to spreading around Anthony's hashtag! Thanks Anthony!






















So yes, tonight McDonald's tried to kill me. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. But I am so grateful I tasted something off and decided to do the test, because otherwise I would have been in for a rough night that could have led me to get really sick. Luckily, this trick is relatively widespread in the community and a lot of people know about it but, it can never hurt to share it a bit more!

So here's a little plea to servers in restaurants of all kinds, be mindful when someone asks for a DIET Coke. They might not be on any sort of diet, it's not a joke, and it might be for health reasons. Be as careful as you can even though we know you're in a rush. We rely on you for some serious reasons! And we apologize about asking you to triple check that it's Diet :)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Valued Voices #4 - Chris Ruden

Last week at the Friends for Life conference, I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Ruden speak. This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for you guys. He is one of the most incredible people I've had the chance to meet, and I hope you find his words as inspiring as I do.

So first, I just wanted to start of by saying hi. Second, I wanted to tell you that it was amazing seeing you speak at the conference, and also wanted to thank you for doing this little interview with you.

I’ll start by letting you introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about what you do.


Chris: My name is Chris Ruden, and I am probably the only 7 fingered, diabetic, disabled, powerlifter, motivational speaker, and online fitness and nutrition consultant that you know. And if not, that other person is lying, because that is definitely only me.

So I train people from all around the world. I’m also a powerlifter, getting into bodybuilding, modelling and all kinds of stuff, and I speak professionally.




Do you find that your childhood was different from other kids because of being “different”?

Chris: Absolutely. 100%. I had to grow up quicker than most, you know, mentally. I had to learn how to be okay with what people say, and how to choose my reactions wisely. So, a lot of it was was the mental burden of being different, even though everyone is different. Being physically, or seen as different, it kind of just forces you to understand that everyone’s different. I don’t think that it was necessarily a bad thing. Some of the stuff I went through really sucked. But I think it was a necessity for me to become who I am. Because I’m a big believer that a lot of people don’t experience enough pain in their life to make a change, or to do something, so they just kind of coast in this purgatory of a life where it’s not good enough to change. It’s not good enough, it’s not where they want to be, but it’s not bad enough to change so they’re just coasting.



I’m curious, were you powerlifting before you were diagnosed with Type 1, or did you only start after your diagnosis?

Chris: I started after I was diagnosed with Diabetes (at 19). So I was hitting the gym here and there, you know, it wasn’t until Diabetes that I made the full-on commitment to fitness. And I was going to be a lawyer. Until I got diagnosed with Diabetes. So I made an entire life change because of my diagnosis, which is why I stand by that whole message, “Sometimes the obstacle in the path, becomes the path.” What happens to you is the right path. Lots of people think that it’s screwing up their dreams and their goals, but sometimes you have to be realigned with what you need to do in life. And sometimes what you need to do in life is become an advocate for your condition, or an advocate for what happens with you.



When you started powerlifting, was there a learning curve to to making sure that you didn’t go too low or too high? Or were you already kind of used to that because of going to the gym?

Chris: I was already kind of used to it but I didn’t know it played that big of a factor until I had a really bad low, and it screwed up my whole workout and I was like, “Okay, well that can’t happen.” Then I had a bad high and and I was like, “Well that can't happen either,” so I kind of developed these lines of moderation. And it was through experience. It probably would have been smarter if I knew about it before, but definitely, you learn in the process. So now when I teach people, I kind of help them with that.



Can you describe one, or some of your clients that have really left an impact on your life?


Chris:
Absolutely. I have a few that come to mind. The first one was David, the 11 year old with Cerebral Palsy. He couldn’t really walk straight, and in a few months he was running on the beach. Not perfectly, but he was running. He was just so positive and giving up wasn't even an option. For most people it is, but for him it just wasn’t. He was 11 years old and he had a better mindset than people I know double, triple, quadruple his age.

Another lady was an 85 year old woman named Shirley, she relapsed from cancer twice. She could barely get up out of a chair when she came into my office. Within a few months, she was like, standing up and pushing weights over her head, and she wrote a letter to the gym saying “Chris gave me my life back at 85 years old.”

Another was a Type 1 named Taylor. In three months she lost 21 pounds with Type 1 Diabetes, and she went to show people that weight loss is possible. Losing body fat is possible, even with insulin, and all these other issues that happen, and all this. So every client I work with, I get pretty personal with. And I love to see them progress as far as they’re willing to take themselves. I don’t believe that there’s an ideal body. I don’t believe that there’s an ideal physique, or an ideal strength. It’s personal for everyone. I’m just here to help.

Chris and David


We all want to know, what is your favourite low snack?


Chris:
Oh, Frosted Mini Wheats 100%. I absolutely love Frosted Mini Wheats, but it is also the worst low snack, because I can overeat the crap out of them.

We all know that no one can be positive 100% of the time, but you seem to do a pretty good job at it. How do you lift yourself up when you catch yourself starting to feel down?

Chris: So, I’m not a big believer in the whole positivity thing. I’m more of a realist. And in being a realist, you understand that being negative doesn’t help. Even in a crappy situation. You wreck your car, and something happens. It happened. You can’t fix it, and being negative, crying, doing all this other stuff, isn’t going to help. So what can I do to help? Well, I can start thinking of the things that are going to help me and move forward from here. We have the ability to control our reactions to things. That’s the one thing we can always control. We can’t control anything else. We can always control our reactions. Sometimes it’s hard, yes, but we can. And that’s just constantly in the back of my head all the time.


Do you have a favourite motto?

Chris: I have a few. The one I created for my own business is “Limitations are self-imposed.” You create your own crap. And if you want to live in it, that’s your choice. Also, “You teach best what you need to learn most,” is definitely a big push for me. And Michael Jordan spoke, “I hate losing, more than I love winning.”



Which social media platform is your favourite to raise awareness?


Chris: Instagram. Definitely Instagram.

You can find Chris on Instagram @chrisruden, on Facebook here, or at his website, www.chrisruden.com.




Monday, July 10, 2017

My Friends for Life 2017 Experience - Year 2

Last summer I had one of the best summers I've ever had. One of the reasons was because I attended Children With Diabetes' Friends For Life conference for my first time. This is a conference for people with Type 1 Diabetes, and it is HUGE. Over 2000 people attend, all people with Type 1 Diabetes, and the rest who love someone with Type 1 Diabetes.

This year (and they've now announced for the years to come), it was at a Disney hotel, which gave it that extra little bit of excitement, because who doesn't love Disney? In my humble opinion it makes it a lot harder to be sad on Disney property.

We flew out on Tuesday, which was registration day. You go in, you get your FFL tee, and you get a green or orange bracelet. Green for Type 1. And Orange for Type 3 (someone who loves someone with T1D). They also provide an extra yellow bracelet to those who have Celiac Disease, which is very common in Type 1! This allows them to go into the special gluten free buffet at meal times.

Morgan, Gretchen, and I with our green bracelets. Morgan has an extra yellow one!





















 My parents and I got organized, checked out the hotel grounds for a bit, and then I met up with one of my best T1D friends, Mary. She is with Beyond Type 1 who had a session, and a booth in the exhibit hall, so let's just say she was pretty busy, and I feel so lucky that we got to sit in a restaurant for two hours and just chat and have some time to ourselves before things got crazy.

The next morning, I met up with my FFL from last year, Morgan, who I love dearly and it was so good to be reunited. Next came Gretchen. Gretchen and I have been pen pals for over a year, and when we found out she was coming to the conference this year, it was Beyond exciting. So you can imagine our giant hug when we saw each other. It was so surreal and getting to spend the week with her was so special. Now we were just missing our FFL from last year, Ashlyn, who got stuck coming a day late because of school, but arrived the next day and got bombarded with hugs.
Gretchen, Morgan, and I waiting for Ashlyn with our Diet Cokes.
















 That day is what I called Day 1. It was the first day full of sessions, meals, events, and the exhibit hall. The first session I attended was 'Meet Chris Ruden'.  Chris Ruden is a power lifter with Type 1 who is also a motivational speaker. He was born with a congenital defect; he has 2 fingers on one hand and a shorter left arm.   I had previously followed Chris on Instagram and didn't know much about him except for the fact that he was good at lifting weights. He has a large social media presence so I figured I'd choose his session to go to, to see what he's all about. And I was amazed. There is a reason that guy is a motivational speaker. And that's because his words make you want to get up and do something. Right then and there. As someone who also has multiple disabilities, it was definitely a very inspiring session for me. Hearing his story about him accomplishing what everyone told him he could ever do was so powerful.

The awesome Chris Ruden and I...He has slightly more muscle.
















Next was the session I was most excited for; Beyond Type 1 and Bike Beyond! Team Bike Beyond is a group of cyclists with Beyond Type 1 who are currently biking accross the USA to raise funds and awareness for T1D.. and they are unbelievable. So in this session, we got to do a Skype-like session with them. Mary, Dana, and Michelle from Beyond Type 1 stood onstage and did a great job asking questions to the bikers. It was exciting to see some familiar faces who are on the Global Ambassador Council with me. If you go to Beyond Type 1's Facebook page, this was actually live streamed so you can watch it for yourself! These people blow my mind every day, and I am so grateful for their strength and willingness to give it their all to raise awareness.

Some pictures from the Beyond Type 1 Session, with Mary onstage.






Next was the Grand Opening Ceremony. If you read my post from last year, you'll know that every item of food is CARB COUNTED Yes, the carb counts for everything are out on the table. It really is Type 1 Diabetes heaven.

It was also the opening of the exhibit hall, which is always my one of my favorite parts. All the sponsors, and many other t1d organizations and shops set up stations, and have fun, interactive things to do. Especially for the kids. Tic Tac Toe basketball, slime making stations, bean bag tossing, etc. As usual, there were also great giveaways and handouts from various companies. Bags, MANY fidget spinners this year, tees, stress balls, stickers, etc.. let's just say you need an extra suitcase for all of the gifts they give you.

Some pictures from the Exhibit Hall.






Some of my favorite booths included Myabetic, because I happen to be in love with their bags. Beyond Type 1 had a gorgeous booth and had people writing letters to the Bike Beyond Team while they're on the road! I wish they had a more prominent spot in the hall because what they do is really so unique and incredible. Connected in Motion, who takes people with T1D on fun excursions and camping trips also had a great booth. I was also so excited that Genteel was there with their own booth! They had a fun game going on. If you could guess your blood sugar when they tested it, your name would get put in a draw to win a Genteel. One of my highlights was spending quite a while chatting with the doctor who invented the Genteel. A brilliant, and kind man. I found I learned a lot in that conversation. Of course Pump Peelz was there doing some great giveaways and selling Peelz at discounted prices, and you know we can all never get enough Pump Peelz. All the big companies like Animas, Tandem, Lilly Diabetes, NovoNordisk, Dexcom, and Omnipod were also there. I'm sure I'm missing mentioning a lot!

After that, we were fortunate enough to get to see Crystal Bowersox perform live, and she really has the most gorgeous voice.

Day 2 started with a session by Dr. Desmond Schatz. His presentation was heavily dedicated to the urgency of changing the way the world cares for Diabetes. He had great slides and held my interest (which is not an easy feat!).

Some slides from that morning.










The next session I went to was 'How to Get Support Using Apps, the Internet, and Social Media'. I loved the panel for this session, as it was run by two of my favorite this people in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community), Kerri Sparling, and Scott Johnson. I look up to them as mentors, as well as friends, and I'm so fortunate for that. It was a fun discussion and I always love discussing social media for good use.
With Scott and Kerri.

















Every year there is a Family and Friends Banquet with a different theme. This year was Country Jamboree, so it was a fun and easy one to dress for. We saw lots of plaid, overalls, and cowboy hats. During this dinner, one of my favorite singers, Raelynn, performed. I met her last year and met her the day before in the exhibition hall, and she is so kind. But what was even more exciting was sitting on the edge of the stage watching her perform her new hit album so close up. I even managed to grab a set list... I'm a 12 year old fangirl deep inside about many things.

Country Jamboree night, with Raelynn performing.








On Day 3, I went to a session called 'Supporting a Healthy Body Image', which I really enjoyed. I stopped and spoke to some parents of T1D teens after the session, and it was nice to be able to give my insight to them because I was that 14 year old T1D kid at one point.

Day 4. Last day. As most people are all packed up, we headed to the Farewell Breakfast, that was slightly more exciting this year because there were Disney characters. But like last year, this was the hardest part... saying goodbye to these people who you've barely spent any time with yet feel like family. Knowing you'll all be spreading out to your own little part of the world, far away from one another, until next year. And leaving that safe bubble that is Friends for Life. Where there are test strips everywhere, where no one has to ask what that weird device you're wearing on your arm is, and where everyone comes together and goes into this amazing little bubble for a few days. Because these are your people. They are the ones who know what it's like to have to be constantly monitoring your blood sugar, and giving the proper dose of medication with no one's help but your own. They are the parents of T1D children, who essentially have to work as their pancreas as a second job. They are the kids who have to be bribed to test their blood sugar or to treat their highs and lows... who are just trying to be kids. They are the ones who never get a break... yet somehow, Friends for Life kind of feels like our break. For all of us... kids, adults, and everything in between.

We love Minnie.
















As this year wraps up, I want to remind myself that throughout the year I will have something important to look forward to next year. Something to give me motivation on those days I want to give up. Because a year really does fly by. Until next year, FFL.




Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Beauty Favorites 2017

1.Benefit Hoola Lite Bronzer


They finally made a bronzer for us super pale girls! I was a big fan of Hoola, and would just use it with a really light hand so that it didn't look too intense. And it totally worked. But then when I saw Hoola Lite came out, I had someone in Sephora try it on me and I was sold. My absolute favorite. In the meantime, it was the semi annual sale and Benefit had come out with their yearly cheek palette, Cheek Parade, and I had been eyeing the Dandelion blush for a while. So for the value, it was worth it to get the kit. I also ended up really enjoying the Galifornia blush!


2. Tarteist Pro Glow Palette Highlight in Strobe























This was a very kind, and very exciting gift from a family friend who works at Ulta. It's something I've admired from afar but probably never would have purchased for myself. The highlighter I was using every day was Tarte's Exposed, and I was content with it, so I didn't feel the need to buy more. But once I got to experiment with it, I especially fell in love with Strobe! It's really beautiful, and I've been wearing it every day.


3. Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer in Ivory























Prior to this I was using BareMinerals Complexion Rescue but this matched my skin tone so much better. It has buildable coverage, but definitely light to medium. Which is perfect for me in the summer with freckles!


4. NYX Angel Veil Skin Perfecting Primer























I tried this based on CosmobyHaley's recommendation on YouTube. I debated whether or not I should buy it considering I had a ton of other great primers, but I am so glad I decided to get it in the end. It feels so nice and light on your skin and blurs EVERYTHING. It's wonderful.


5. Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara























So Sephora had a little mini Lashstash To Go set and I believe it was around 30$. So it came with 5 mini mascaras, and a voucher to redeem a full size mascara of whichever you like best. I thought that was a great deal, and I usually stick to drugstore mascaras but this was a fun way to test some out and it made sense for the value. Well.. because of my hair loss, I have teeny tiny little lashes that drive me crazy, and when I tried Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes, it went on so nicely and smoothly and really elongated them. So of course I'll be redeeming the full size one with my voucher, and highly recommend checking it out! I sometimes use my L'Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes over it to thicken them up a bit.



6. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Fair Neutral






















So this spring, I went on the Shape Tape hype. For those of you who don't know, Shape Tape is a concealer by Tarte that got an insane amount of attention this year. I hopped on the wagon and I did like it.. though I did find it a tiny bit cakey. A little drop went a long way. I had always wanted to try the Naked Skin Concealer by Urban Decay so I decided to go for it.... and fell in love. You know those products that you can't necessarily explain why you love them so much... but you just do? This is that for me. It's high coverage which is good for covering my dark circles, but I find it a lot less cakey looking than the Shape Tape.


And that completes my summer favorites for the year of 2017! Hope you get to try some of these out, and I hope you're having a great summer!