Friday, November 16, 2018

Tips For T1D in High School

Old picture from my high school

My Type 1 diagnosis came in my first semester of high school. No time to settle in. It was early October and I just learning what high school was all about.

The day I was diagnosed, my parents bought me my first cell phone. Not as a gift or a reward or anything. But because they knew that if I went out with friends I’d need to be able to reach them in case of an emergency. But I didn’t really care why I got the phone... I was just excited to get it. It kind of distracted me from the horrid thing that had just happened.

But again, it was the beginning of high school. I think everyone just wants to fit in at that time in life and that’s okay and makes perfect sense. But as such, I hid my diabetes. I did anything I could not to draw attention to myself. I went into a bathroom stall to test my blood. If I went low I’d secretly shove something down my throat, sometimes hiding behind my locker. I felt ashamed of my disease. Not only did I feel different, but I had such a fear of the stigma that comes with diabetes. I worried that people would think I did this to myself, that I ate too much sugar.

1- Don’t hide and don’t be ashamed.

You have every right to walk around just like every single other student in that school. You’re no different. You just have an obstacle that you’re overcoming everyday. And that makes you pretty awesome.

2- Talk with your teachers when the semester starts.

Let your teachers know about Type 1, and the things you might have to do during class. Let them know that your blood sugar might go low, and that you might have to have some glucose tabs, or other food. Or that you might need to leave the class because of that. Let them know that you might have devices beep during class, and maybe ask them not to call it out when it happens if you don’t want to be pointed out. Let them know what to do in an unlikely emergency too. Better to be safe!

3- Listen to your body.

If you feel yourself going low or high, don’t tell yourself anything like “Oh, I’ll just wait until class is over.” You don’t have to! If you’ve let your teacher know that you may need to be excused from the class, go do what you need to do to take care of yourself!

4- Have snacks available.

Don’t get stuck in a situation where you’re low and have nothing on you to bring your blood sugar up. My suggestions would be to always have something in your pocket, like glucose tabs or gummies, and to also have your locker loaded with snacks. Especially juice boxes!

5- Remember that you have power.

Sometimes you might feel like Type 1 has all the power over your life. But the truth is, is that Type 1 Diabetes is a bump. But you are the mountain. It doesn’t change who you are, and please, please, try to remember that. Don’t pretend it isn’t there, but know that it doesn’t change anything. You are a high schooler, you are the things you love. You just happen to have an illness that has probably made your stronger than most of your peers. You’ve got this.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Diabetes Awareness Month 2018

Photography by Talya Shai

This is the month where many of us in the Type 1 community inundate our Facebook friends, our Instagram and Twitter followers, and our blog readers with information about Type 1 Diabetes.

And some people might get annoyed with us. But you know what? That’s too bad, because the world is so full of false information about Type 1 that every single person who is telling the world the truth makes a difference. Or at least that’s what I believe.

Diabetes isn’t a “sexy” disease, as people would say. Nope. It’s stigmatized with much of the world thinking we gave it to ourselves by eating too much sugar, that it’s a “fat person” disease, and many more misconceptions that are incredibly damaging to Type 1s.

Explaining to the world that this disease can hit anyone, at every time, is important. People need to know that it can happen to your parents, your friends, your siblings, or yourself. And though it’s commonly diagnosed in children, it’s diagnosed in adults too! It happens to athletes, lawyers, tiny children, and your everyday person. It doesn’t matter your size, your shape, your weight, your age... it can come and hit anyone like a freight train. Because it’s an autoimmune disease and unfortunately there’s nothing to do to stop it and there’s no cure. This is why we fight so hard and make so much noise.

So, to my fellow T1Ds, here’s to making a ton of noise this month! May the awareness begin!

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Love Letter to Anyone Who’s Struggling Today

Hey struggling soul.

I want to tell you a secret. You are so much stronger than you think you are. Do you remember the last day that you felt this way? When you felt like you couldn’t take this anymore, or that you were just so tired of living life like this? You made it through that day. And  there’s proof that you can make it through this day too.

Whether you’re fighting your body, or your mind... or maybe both, you woke up this morning. Though you may not have a choice and these circumstances have chosen you, you are facing them head on. And you might feel like they’re overwhelming you, or like you’re not strong enough to handle them. But you will look back on days like this and be so proud of the way you surprised yourself. Just like you’ve surprised yourself before. Again and again.

It’s not fair that that life has dealt you this deal. It’s not. There’s nothing that makes it okay. But I hope you know you deserve to be proud. Because you go through things that other people couldn’t handle. You don’t even realize all the little achievements you’ve attained. Every single day, from getting up, to forcing yourself to bathe or shower, to pushing through the pain, and fighting for your life.

And though some days you might feel like you’re losing, the mere fact that you are pushing through is a little win. You are braver than you think. More of a fighter than you think. More fearless than you think. And no one knows. It’s a pretty silent battle. No one knows the little things you overcome in one day. 24 hours. Maybe today you felt pain all over your body. But you still made it through. Maybe today your mind was a mess. But you still made it through. Maybe today you were just tired. Exhausted. You felt like you had the life sucked out of you. But still, here you are, another day that YOU won over what’s trying to take over.

Please don’t underestimate yourself. It might feel like the score is 0 for you, and 1 for life, but you are so much more than you think you are. You have power over the pain the world has caused you. And you deserve every single ounce of that power, because you fought for it. And you continue to fight for it every single day.

So in case no one has told you lately.... I’m proud of you.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

10 Things You Become Grateful For When You’re Chronically Ill

1- Friends who don’t forget about you.

It’s so easy to become isolated and kind of forgotten when you’re chronically ill, especially when you’re stuck at home a lot or all the time.  Friends who hang on are special.

2- Low pain/High energy days.

When you’re chronically ill not every day is the same. Some days your illness will be overpowering, and sometimes you’ll get days where you feel pretty good compared to how you normally feel. Those are the best days!

3- The ability to eat.

Many of my chronically ill friends have either lost the ability to eat, or go through flares where they can’t eat normally. And so you become grateful for being able to eat. Even if you can’t eat completely normally, or pain free, you become grateful. And you learn that you should have always been grateful!

4- Being able to get around on foot.

A lot of us rely on mobility aids to get around because well, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to. Another case of you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. So those of us who CAN get around on foot learn to not take it for granted. And those of us who can’t... brings me to my next point.

5- Mobility aids.

When you lose the ability to go where you want to go, it can be a huge hit to your independence. So sometimes we have to learn to be grateful for the tools that can help us live a fuller life. My wheelchair, as much as I wish I didn’t need it, gives me freedom that I had once lost.

6- Good doctors.

When you’re chronically ill, you usually end up seeing more doctors than you can count on two hands. But you can probably only count on one hand the ones that have made a big impact on your life. Complex chronic illness is a handful for doctors. It sucks, but it is. Many times they don’t know what to do with us, and will pass us off to another one of our specialists. Sometimes they’ll have no idea why something is happening but won’t want to admit it. But those special ones, the ones who fight for you, and don’t give up on getting you proper answers and treatment, they are something to be so grateful for.

7- Nurses.

Us chronically ill learn quickly that we spend far more time with nurses than we do with doctors. They are the ones who get to know us. Who advocate for us to our doctors. Who try to make sure we’re always comfortable. Who deal with all the gross things that go on, but don’t make us feel uncomfortable about it. Nurses are angels on earth.

8- Friends who go the extra mile in regards to your illness.

A lot of us say that one of the best and most comforting things a friend, or even a family member, has said to us is “I googled your illness.” Having that friend who wants to learn about your illness, so that they can support you, is something special. Especially ones who support you on awareness days, for fundraisers, or share articles. It just shows how much they care.

9- Functioning body parts.

When parts of your body malfunction, it’s pretty impossible not to become grateful for the parts of your body that work!

10- The ability to travel.

As young people, we have so many places in the world we want to explore. But sometimes traveling to those places becomes unrealistic or impossible due to poor health. There are periods of time where things are too unstable to take the risk of going on any sort of trip. So anytime we have the ability to visit somewhere new, it’s something extra special. Even if it’s visiting another place for medical appointments!

Monday, August 6, 2018


Why do I care about diabetes jokes? A question I find myself rethinking often. Mainly because I see people discussing it often. The whole community seems to be a little split on how we feel about diabetes jokes. Some fight against them, and others just don’t care, and don’t see the big deal. They even find them funny. 

So where do I find myself on this topic? I just can’t help but feel fired up when I see a joke about diabetes. I’d love to have that nonchalant attitude and let those jokes roll off my shoulder, but apparently that’s just not in me.

Why do I get angry? I probably think back to my 12 year old self. Just having been diagnosed with Type 1 and feeling ashamed. Feeling scared to tell people at school what happened to me because I was worried they’d think I got diabetes from eating too much. 

And now as an adult, it kills me that there are still teenagers who feel the way I did back then. Who try to hide their diabetes because such a large proportion of the world thinks that we ate our way into it. 

Little do they know it’s an autoimmune disease. It falls under the same category as Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Thyroid Disease, Lupus, etc.. And that sugary foods don’t have anything to do with how you get Type 1 Diabetes, it’s our faulty immune system. 

Would Multiple Sclerosis jokes be funny? Would Lupus jokes be funny? Maybe in another world. But in this world people wouldn’t dare joke about other illnesses. But diabetes has an attachment to food, and that is a huge stigma creator. 

So here are a few facts to consider before making a Diabetes joke:
1- Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that can hit anyone, including you or your family. 
2- People with Type 1 CAN EAT SUGAR. We just have to give ourselves insulin for it. Unless our blood sugar is low. Then it will actually save our lives. 
3- Those with Type 1 carry a heavy responsibility. We have to be on top of our blood sugars 24/7. This means constant testing, constant dosages of insulin through needles or pumps, and constant treating of high or low blood sugars. Which happen every day, inevitably. So if you miss a day of insulin, you can go into Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which is deadly. If your blood sugar goes low and you don’t feel it, or you don’t treat it in a timely manner, you’ll end up seizing and losing consiousness. 

What Type 1 Diabetes needs most (apart from a cure), is awareness. And what’s the opposite of awareness? Diabetes jokes. Because they are spreading misinformation. That misinformation is already spread worldwide. And because of that little kids, teenagers, and even adults, live feeling ashamed for having a disease that they did nothing to get. So yes, Diabetes jokes matter. Next time you want to make one, picture a cute little kiddo with an insulin pump whose mom and dad have to worry at night that their baby won’t wake up in the morning, and then decide if you still want to make jokes about it. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Friends For Life Orlando 2018

A few of my friends for life.

Every year I find myself lost at where to even begin to describe my time at this conference by Children With Diabetes. This is going to be a messy post because my brain is all jumbled due to happiness. I’m going to repeat something I said on Instagram. If I had to describe FFL in 3 words, they would be “comfort”, “love”, and “freedom”. There is no place in the world where a Type 1 Diabetes family can feel more comfortable. You’re surrounded by hundreds of families just like yours, and you know that if something goes wrong everyone around you will want to help. Insulin vial went bad? Someone will find you with an extra one they happened to have. Have a sick kid? Everyone will get together to make sure they’re taken care of. The support, the camaraderie, and the caring for one another at Friends for Life is incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced. 

Let me re-explain what the Friends for Life conference is. Started by one of the most amazing women, Laura Billetdeaux, she imagined a place where Type 1 families can come together. Little did she know what her little idea would grow into. Friends for Life is for all Type 1s and people who love them. If you’re Type 1, you get an green bracelet. If you love someone with Type 1, you get an orange bracelet. And if you have Celiac, well, you get a yellow bracelet and must stay away from the gluten. But no worries, they have their very own buffet! Sessions go on all week, many at a time, and you can look at the schedule and choose which ones you want to attend. There are informational sessions, emotional sessions, sessions with research updates, and interactive sessions. 

Awesome photo by @karley.renay on Instagram.
I’m going to start with my first day. Tuesday is registration day, so the most exciting part is running into all your old friends in the hallways! Usually reuniting with the biggest hugs. At night the staff and faculty hung out at Splitsville, an awesome bowling alley in Disney Springs. It was so much fun and such a great way to get pumped up for the upcoming days. 

The hallways are happy here :)
Wednesday is the first day of sessions. I went to “Diabetes Connections: The Game Show”, hosted by Stacey Simms. The audience got to watch some T1D trivia take place, and it was great because Stacey is just hilarious. My favorite part was a game where she talked about TV shows that have inaccurately portrayed T1D and the panel had to finish the sentence. Law and Order, Blacklist, and The Flash were mentioned. Stacey actually recorded her session for her podcast, so you’ll be able to hear how that went down when she gets that up. 

The wonderful Stacey Simms doing her thing.
In the afternoon, I volunteered at the sticker table where everyone decorates their name badges! This is just as equally for the adults as for the kids. I love volunteering because, one, who doesn’t love stickers? And two, because I get to meet everyone while they have fun decorating their badge! 

When we closed, I spent time with my friend who was working at the Retinal Screening that is offered for free to participants. We chatted and she convinced me that this doctor is he best, and that I have to have a retinal screening done by him. So I went for it, and apparently my eyes are as healthy as can be! I was told you can’t even tell I have Type 1 by looking at the images! That’s always nice to hear. They have very advanced technology that will show the earliest signs of Diabetes affecting the eyes, so it’s worth getting it done if you go so that you can be proactive. 

At night was the Grand Opening Ceremony. At 6 o’clock sharp, the ribbon in front of the Exhibition Hall gets cut and everyone swarms in. It’s like Black Friday - Friends For Life edition. All sorts of companies who make diabetes supplies, non-profits, and small businesses have booths. Many are giving away free swag, and there are activities everywhere for the kiddos to do. The big hit with them this year seemed to be the slime at the Lilly booth. I can never explain how huge this place is. You have to see it with your own eyes. 

Exhibition Hall Opening.
This was also our first meal! Like I’ve said before, every food out on the table has carb counts next to it. The team, including a nutritionist, work so hard to put together great meals and figure out the measurements of every single thing. 

Photo stolen from my wonderful friend, Janice Gaskins.
Thursday morning was the opening Keynote. This year we had Will Cross talk about his expeditions climbing Mount Everest, and wow, was it a good example of the things you can do with Diabetes. 

This year I was lucky enough to join the faculty, joining with friends Kerri Sparling and Scott Johnson to talk about social media, and where to find your place online. It was my first time speaking, so as you can imagine, I was nervous. But stepping out of my comfort zone definitely paid off. The session was fun, and when Scott asked me how I liked it when we were finished, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was so nice to be able to speak about social media, which I’m pretty passionate about when it comes to finding support and making connections. 

Thursday night was the Family & Friends Banquet kindly sponsored by Novo Nordisk. Every year this banquet has a theme, and this year it came with lots of island vibes. We were told to think “Moana” and “Lilo & Stitch”. I came equipped with a flower crown, and was surrounded by people wearing leis. Raelynn, a country artist, who happens to be one of my favorites, performed for her third year in a row. She was incredible as kids swarmed the stage. My friend Gretchen and I acted like little fangirls and got up close. It’s always so surreal, but so amazing.

The calm before the storm. Photo by Children With Diabetes.

Gretchen, Stitch, and I!

The beautiful Raelynn up close :)
I had a fun sleepover with Morgan, one of my “diabesties”, and she was prepared to help me wake up early the following morning. We each woke each other up with a low blood sugar overnight. Let me tell you, diabetes sleepovers are the best. 

After fulfilling her promise and helping me wake up in the morning, we attended Korey Hood’s session, “Avoiding and Overcoming Diabetes Burnout”. We discussed what leads to burnout, and numbers came up. Mostly how they’re unpredictable. About how we can do the exact same thing that we did the day before and end up with different results, and how frustrating that is. Right away I thought back to my blog post about A1C, and not basing your worth on it. Like Korey pointed out, we’re human and we can’t be perfect all the time... especially with such an unpredictable disease. During the session the mom of a newly diagnosed 9 year old spoke up. She was feeling the burnout. Because burnout doesn’t only affect the one with Type 1. It can affect the whole family. But even more so, the caretaker. Being thrown into the Type 1 world upon diagnosis is kind of like being handed a parachute on a plane and telling you that you have to jump. You’re terrified, you have no idea what you’re doing, yet all of the sudden you’re doing it. I tracked down that mom after and reminded her that the parents of Type 1 kids are the heroes behind the scenes. After letting some emotions out, we hugged and thanked each other. 

Saturday was the quiet day at the conference, and my friends and I went to Magic Kingdom, which was magical, as always. My friend Ashlyn and her mom made us these amazing tanks that said "I like my carbs Mickey shaped", which is the truth! 

Girls with pumps and CGMs!
Every year there is an amazing young adults dinner, and an adults party. I was talking about being in such a safe space if things happen to go wrong, like they can on vacations. Exhibit A: Morgan, whose BG happens to stay in a low range, felt a bit funny, only to see her blood sugar was 491 mg/dL (27.2 mmol/L). She took her infusion set off only to see that the catheter was completely bent, and she hadn't been getting insulin for the past 3 hours. Anyone with T1D knows how quickly a situation like this can turn extremely dangerous. I ran around to find her a syringe so that she can manually give herself some fast acting insulin, and it only took me about 2 minutes before I was being offered syringes and she was being offered insulin pens. She was covered. Her and my mom even went to speak to Dr. Stephen Ponder who was attending "Desserts with the Faculty", and she was reassured that she's doing everything right. Because we were in such a safe place, surrounded by people who knew how to help and wanted to help, she recovered quickly!

White party fun.

Let me get back to the topic of support at this conference. Like I said, Friends for Life is the most comfortable place you can be as a Type 1 Diabetic. Friendly faces everywhere. Everyone is keeping their eyes peeled for those green and orange bracelets, and when we see each other on the hotel grounds, we always say hi regardless of if we've met yet or not. Automatic family. Warm smiles everywhere.

A favorite part of mine is seeing all the little kiddos with green bracelets. Omnipods that look giant on their tiny arms. Running around with other green bracelet wearing kids having the time of their life. 

Two of my best littles.
One question I've seen asked by some is "My child was just diagnosed. Is it too soon to bring them to the conference?" The answer is NO. It is never too soon! Bring them. Let them be in a place full of people just like them. Give them the opportunity to make friends that understand them in a whole different way. Allow yourself to come to a place where there are parents all around who will take you in, and they will understand where you are and where you've been.

Then came yesterday morning. The Farewell Breakfast. Fun picture opportunities with characters and Mickey waffles, but also hugs goodbye everywhere leading to tears. Like I said, there is no place for a Type 1 like Friends for Life. It’s the one place where it’s not unusual to be the one with diabetes. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of the orange bracelets were kind of wishing they had it too during the days of the conference. The one time having Diabetes really makes you feel special! But Children with Diabetes makes sure to have an amazing program for the siblings, making it such a fun experience for them too. All of this makes it so hard to leave. Where else can you feel so understood? And that's where the tears come. Knowing how much we'll miss everyone all year. Leaving this place of love and community. 

Saying goodbye to my little friends :(
FFL always seems to inspire me and give me purpose. I get reminded of why I do what I do. Seeing the bravery in these kids. Seeing the strength in their parents who deal with so much worry all year round, yet get a chance to breath during this one week. Seeing grandparents come to attend the grandparent sessions, showing so much love for their family.  Seeing people with tears in their eyes in the hallways, not because they're sad. But because they feel a huge relief.
Friends for Life personally changed my own life. It showed me that there is a place for everybody in this world. Friends for life is mine.

A special thanks to Children with Diabetes, Jeff Hitchcock, and Laura Billetdeaux for making this possible.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sources For Stickers For Your Diabetes Supplies

As I've written about many times before on my blog, I love decorating my supplies. If you're looking to decorate yours, I'm going to share some great places you can order stickers. I'll start with some places I'm familiar with and have ordered from.

Pump Peelz

Pump Peelz was created by a wonderful couple, Scott and Emily, and they have a HUGE variety. They carry stickers for the following things: Freestyle Libre, Omnipod, Omnipod PDM, Animas pumps, Tandem pumps, Medtronic pumps, Dexcom transmitter, Dexcom receiver, Verio Meters, Bayer Contour Next, Animas Meters, as well as cute decorative adhesive to help your Dexcom stay on longer. Examples are pictured below.

Pep Me Up

Pep Me Up is run by a great girl named Steffi, and they have the most gorgeous designs for the Freestyle Libre. Their stickers come all the way from Germany, and get here to Canada so quickly I can't even believe it sometimes. Apart from the Libre, they sell stickers for Medtronic Minimed 640G. Other fun things they sell are temporary tattoos and bracelets.


Pimp My Diabetes

Pimp My Diabetes was started by a fellow Montrealer named Edda, and she carries everything from stickers, to bags, to jewerlry and more. She carries stickers for: Freestyle Libre sensors, Freestyle Libre readers, Fixtape to secure your Libre sensor so it doesn't fall off, Dexcom Receivers, Dexcom transmitters, Bayer Contour Next Meter, Accu-Chek Meters, Medtronic Pump Stickers, Medtronic sensor stickers, Enlite sensor fixtapes, Omnipod PDM stickers, Omnipod pod stickers, and t:slim stickers. As if that's not enough, she also carries gorgeous jewelry, and Diabetes bags.


Now I'm going to continue on to some websites that I haven't personally ordered from, but have browsed and seen some really nice things. 


From what I see Héloui mainly sells stickers for the Freestyle Libre. They sell packs of 6 which is a good value if you like all the stickers. They also donate €1 of that purchase to a diabetes research foundation called The DON Foundation.


This dutch website has quite the large variety. They carry stickers for: Freestyle Libre sensors and readers, Dexcom transmitters and receivers, Omnipod pods and PDMs, Medtronic Minimed, Accu-Chek Insight and Accu-Chek Spirit Combo, and fixtapes for the Ominipod, Dexcom, and Libre.


Prikkedief is a huge website that I believe is based in the Netherlands. They sell their own bags and accessories, but today I'm just going to focus on their stickers. They carry stickers for: Freestyle Libre readers and sensors, Dexcom receivers and transmitters, Omnipod pods and PDMs, Bayer Contour Next Meters, and the 630G, 640G, and 670G by Medtronic.

Diabetes Feel Goods 

This is a website which I also believe is based in the Netherlands.  From what I can see, they sell Diabetes bags and kits, and jewelry, apart from stickers. In regards to stickers, they carry them for: Accu-Chek Mobiles, Animas Vibe pumps, Bayer Contour Next meters, Dexcom sensors and transmitters, FreeStyle Libre sensors and readers, Medtronic 640G and Minimed pumps, and Omnipod pods and PDMs.

I hope this was helpful to some of you. If you have any other websites to suggest, please do! Until then, happy decorating!