Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Big Brother-The day of D-Siblings

Today I have seen many posts about other d-bloggers' siblings, and how today is a day to recognize them.

So I guess I will do that!

My brother is 4 years my senior, and growing up we fought a lot. At the time I never put much thought into caring about what he must be going through when mom and dad paid a lot of attention to everything I ate and everything I did.  We gave my parents a run for their good parenting to speak. He was a hockey player and I was an artsy kid who didn't really know which direction to pick...I liked them all.

My parents did an excellent job of making life seem completely normal after diagnosis. I don't really remember it to be honest, I do remember dropping my drawers so my dad or mom could give me a shot in the butt. I remember eating healthier snacks after school and gazing longingly at my brother putting away 10 mini pizzas as a "snack". I don't remember feeling sad or deprived about diabetes. I always felt it made me special.

I do remember how I was diagnosed. It was on a hockey trip for my brother. I had just gotten over the flu and we were making our trek home and stopped for supper. All I wanted was to drink milkshakes. I didn't want any supper just strawberry milkshakes. I distinctly remember feeling kind of sick at the thought of eating but anything liquid meant that I could be satisfied if only for a minute. Apparently that's when my mom knew something was up. That's how a lot of things happened when I was little, I was a hockey sister. I didn't mind it, I enjoyed running around the arena and sneaking treats out of the candy machine. I had friends who were there, I got to travel a was a great childhood!

My brother has always taken everything in stride about my diabetes. I got to go to diabetes camp and he got to go to hockey camp. I remember when I was first diagnosed we were still in the same school, I remember one day I spilled my milk on my sandwich and ruined it. My teacher let me go up to the grade 6 wing and tell him and he gave me his sandwich, knowing that I needed to eat (of course this was back in the 2 starch, 1 protein, 1 fat, 1 fruit days). I don't really know if he got to have another sandwich that day, but I do know that even 11 year old brother didn't let me go hungry and low.

We may have fought a lot and I know I was jealous of the attention HE got sometimes because he was a true athlete (and he still is!) If he was ever jealous, guilty or angry: he certainly never let it show. All in all I think we were pretty normal siblings.

Today we are not as close as I would like, but we both have busy lives. But I do know that he would always be there for me in an emergency if I needed him.

Hey Brandon, if you're reading this you should comment and tell me if any of this rings true!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LifeoutsideD Part 2: Hector

**This post is part of an ongoing series about PWD's life outside of diabetes to show just how normal we can be (I use the term "normal" loosely). If you make a post about your life outside of D please use the hashtag on twitter #lifeoutsideD and I will be doing a round up. So far Jennifer of  Sweet Zoo has posted about her awesome daughter here 

Today I have forgotten to bolus twice. My sugars are around 180/10 and that sucks but at least I know why so I can fix it. Also note to self: don't forget to bolus, geez it's not that hard!

In my ongoing posts showing a little about my life outside of diabetes, let me present to furbaby.

The guy in focus is Hectordog.
Hector is my dog. Well, he is mine and my boyfriend's dog (more on that guy later). He is a purebred (akllegedly) Redbone Coonhound. He has big floppy hears, and sad droopy eyes which he uses to his advantage. We adopted him last July from a local adoption agency that takes dogs out of emergency/ pro-kill shelters in the Unites States and brings them to Canada where they are less likely to be killed. 

Here is models a scarf I made for Cherise.

Hector is a really, really great dog. We knew when we first met him he was special. When we went to the adoption center he was running around, and when he was called he would jump up on the camp chair they had set out in the yard and sit pretty. I distinctly remember him coming over and putting his paws over my toes and bowing down in his play posture. 

Sunbathing after a bath

He really is adorable. He sleeps at my feet and cuddles with us all the time. I have never seen a dog that thrives on being super attached and lazy more in my life. He is totally in bliss either running around outside or laying on the doesn't matter as long as his people are around. 

Underage drinking, tsk tsk!

He makes us laugh every day. When we laugh he feeds off of it and does more silly things. He groans a lot in response to touch and words and expresses how he feels VERY clearly through body language and groans. Sometimes when he has been warm, we think his scent smells like corn pops. So I usually call him my little stink, Mr. Stinkerton, or corn pop.

Just maxin and relaxing

Lately he has started to pick up on my highs and lows. At night, on more than one occasion, he has woken me up and I have been low or high. Sometimes he will whine incessantly at me until I check my blood sugar if we are just hanging out and I will be low and not have felt it. He is really special to us. He gets us out walking or playing, he cuddles us, he makes us happy and yeah he can make us frustrated too.

I have never met a dog with a more ridiculous personality in my life. I just love this guy.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Re-reading my posts recently I noticed a certain negative tone to them.

When I started this blog, I wanted to demonstrate that life with diabetes doesn't always suck, so I really do need to re-focus on least today.

I often find myself wondering about what the doc members are like outside of their diabetes blogging/social media advocating lives too. So I am going to start a series of posts about my life outside of diabetes, at just how normal (and often...boring!) life with diabetes can be! If you intent to post about yourself outside of  D showing your normal life, please use the hashtag #lifeoutsideD. I would love to hear more about you!

Before I get into that though, I want to show you a few days of success. I think it's radically important to share our successes. Too often it is too easy to be negative about our chronic illness, so I will start...but I want to hear about your success too!


My day so far. Look at those averages of my past 26 tests! I am so happy with that. For the record (for my American friends)  6.0 mmol/l is 108 mg/dcl.     

So, my life outside of D right now is pretty consumed with crocheting! I love it! It passes the time, I feel satisfied when I make things and it makes some really beautiful items. I am the type of person that can give up on myself easily if I do not master something quickly, so starting new hobbies is always a minefield for my self-esteem. But when I started to crochet something just...clicked! Is tarted to crochet maybe a month ago. I can see myself being totally addicted and starting an etsy shop.

One of my projects, for a person who shall remain nameless since they may see my blog:

Happy, happy, HAPPY Friday all. Please make sure to tweet me @alannaswartz if you are posting a #lifeoutsideD blog post, I want to read it and I want to promote it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Advice wanted

Hey all.

So I have been learning a lot about Apidra and its ability to reduce the post meal spike/quick action time.

I have heard both good and bad things about it. My main concern is that it can not remain unrefrigerated for any period of time.

I go through a lot of insulin as a big girl. I can go through 200 units in a few days no problem, but my big stickler is that I always ALWAYS have a bottle of insulin unrefrigerated on me. At ALL times. I carry this because a) I may need a back up shot, b)I may run out of insulin and c)it keeps me alive so in case of any sort of emergency I always want some on me. A bottle of 10ml usually lasts me mayyyyyybe 3 weeks. Is this too long? I know the label says its too long, but is it actually too long?

Likewise, do any of my pumping pals use Symlin? I have heard good things from some T2s, but I wonder what its effect on T1 pumper would be?

I am trying to arm myself with lots of info before I beg and plead for the diabetes clinic to see me in the new year.

I will have approximately 15 minutes to present my findings and get an endocrinologist to believe me when I present these findings, so give me your best shot.

Any other meds or endo endorsed supplements that help make you feel more in control of your Diabetes?

Let me know!

This post is not requesting medical advice, nor will responses be taken as such. It is requesting user experiences only. Any changes I, or my readers make will be the responsibility of the patient.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Two days. What's up?
Perhaps silence is what is necessary for me today.
Thank you Meri, for your lovely post.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The guilt.

I have had a few decent-ish days D-wise.  Sugars are relatively in range. My only high spike is again where I changed my infusion set. I tried the tip of leaving my older one in for four hours to ensure all insulin/basal/boluses were absorbed, but alas the new site still took forever to start absorbing correctly. I don't feel good when my sugar is up around 14.0/252. Some people might not feel that at all, and that's ok too, but for me the feeling is awful.

So what happens emotionally when my sugar is out of range? I feel even worse, like I am failing at something I am supposed to be really, really good at. When my sugar is above 8.0 or below 4.5 I feel like something I did was wrong. I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel sadness, I feel angry. It doesn't happen often but sometimes I think: "Why me?"

Why was I the one to have to deal with this crap day-in and day out? There are so many people out there who do bad things and are bad, mean-spirited people. I don't necessarily think that anyone deserves to struggle with a chronic illness, but I catch myself sometimes thinking: why not them? Then I feel guilty for even thinking that! So I am guilty over failing myself because of my numbers and then I feel guilty for thinking someone else should have to deal with this and not me. It can be a vicious circle.

So, in times like that in the past I have vented to friends or my partner. But these days I am reading blogs/reaching out on twitter to people like me. I can't really list them all here, in fact that is another post for another day but people like: Kerri , Kim, Scott, Mike, Stacey and SO MANY MORE (believe me if you aren't listed here: I still read your blog, I just had those off the top of my head!) are writing every day about stuff that I am dealing with too.

I am not even a little guilty about how much crap just spilled out of my diabag when I lifted it up the wrong way to refill Huey the Bluey pump. Look at all those used test strips I carry around with me every day! GROSS/I kind of want to keep all my used strips for a year and make something out of them. I AM GROSS.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Life with T1D: Glucolifted

You can click on the image and you will be taken to the Glucolift website.

Follow them on Twitter: @Glucolift
Or email them:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

World Diabetes Day: Hope


Hope is that fleeting feeling that dances across your chest and mind when someone you care about looks at you just so.

Hope is that warm embrace from a friend you haven't seen in years.

Hope is your phone ringing.

Hope is what replaces fear when the diagnosis trauma wears off, when the burnout dies down, when the insulin kicks in, when the juice box gives you its last carbohydrate.

Hope is when the night sweats from a low blood sugar subside and you slip safely into a deep sleep.

Hope is what keeps us alive.

Hope is what keeps me alive.

World Diabetes Day provides us a symbol of hope that one day we will be able to say we were once living with diabetes. It provides a beacon for us who are drowning in corrections and glucose tablets and gives us the wind in our sails when we just don't want to care any more.

Diabetes Online Community, friends, family, loved ones: this is a call to arms. World Diabetes Day is our way to reach out to you and ask you to hold us up when we just can't do it ourselves. We are asking for you to come to our defense and sometimes offense when necessary.  Diabetes is hard, until there is a cure we need you.

Please celebrate World Diabetes Day, teach your co-worker, neighbour, friend, or cousin that diabetes affects everyone differently. All people with diabetes need from you is respect, not medical advice.

Interested in speaking with people living with diabetes living all around the world? Please join us for a chat on twitter under hashtag #WDDchat12. There will be moderators from all over the world, including me! For the schedule, please see here. 

You can log on to and follow the hashtag #WDDchat12 any time between 7am and 11pm ATL tomorrow and watch the magic of the diabetes online community unfold.

I will be moderating from 9-10pm ATL under the username @theCANDOC

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Guest Post: Stuff You Should Know-Type One Diabetes

My friend Sara has posted this around Facebook and on her personal journal. I asked her if she would mind me re-posting it here to share her hilarious and smart words. I have known Sara for...probably 20 years. We grew up attending the camp put on by the Canadian Diabetes Association together (though she is a few years older than me), we worked together and we both have travelled and worked at other diabetes camps. We are close friends now who do a lot together. Sara is just over one week into her switch from MDI to insulin pumping and I am so excited for her. 

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month! Below is an interesting fact about diabetes for each day of the month. I'd love it if you'd take a few minutes to learn about this disease affecting 347 million people worldwide.

1) There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational (experienced during pregnancy). You can put the terms “brittle diabetes”, “juvenile diabetes” and “sugar diabetes” in the back of the closet… they’re considered outdated and inaccurate.

2) Only about 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1 (including me). Just a few accomplished people with Type 1: Halle Berry, Victor Garber, Neil Young, Anne Rice, Tony Bennett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

3) In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin entirely. People with Type 1 are treated with insulin, delivered through the skin by injections or a pump. Insulin can’t be swallowed because the acid in the stomach breaks it down. (Believe me, that’s the first thing we all ask.)

Here’s someone wearing an insulin pump. That white thing contains a tiny tube that goes under the skin and delivers the insulin.

4) People with Type 2 either don’t have enough insulin, or their body becomes unable to use the insulin they have. It can be treated with diet, pills, and sometimes insulin, too.

5) Insulin is not a cure for diabetes (there IS no cure). It lowers blood sugars, but every day is still a balancing act for people with diabetes as they figure out exactly how much food to eat, and how much insulin to give to counteract the effect of the food. Those are just two of many factors which can affect blood sugar levels.

A few other things that affect blood sugar levels in sometimes unpredictable ways.

6) In short, diabetes is a condition where a shortage of insulin prevents the body from being able to process sugar, causing excess sugar in the blood and urine. (That feels BAD.)

7) No one knows exactly what causes diabetes. Types 1 and 2 are thought to have a genetic component, and Type 2 is influenced by external lifestyle factors, age, and ethnicity. You don’t get it from eating too much candy!

Thank god, am I right?

8) It is dangerous to have either too much or too little glucose in the blood. For a LOW, people with diabetes eat something sweet. Insulin corrects a HIGH blood sugar. (You wouldn’t believe how often Hollywood mixes this up in the movies.) And because I get asked this a lot: being low makes you feel shaky, hungry, empty, weak, fatigued, confused, and you have a hard time stringing sentences together. High blood sugar is marked by thirst, exhaustion, shortness of breath, nausea, and frequent urination.

This is me at my desk all last week.

Panic Room is the worst portrayal of diabetes I’ve ever seen in the movies. Do not get your diabetes info from Jodie Foster!

9) In many ancient cultures, diabetes mellitus (from the Latin for “to siphon honey”) was diagnosed by tasting the urine, as it was high in sugar and tasted sweet. In India they were a whole lot smarter, and would watch ants to see if they were attracted to the sugary urine. Cocktails, anyone?

Dr. Thomas Willis used this colour-flavour wheel to diagnose patients with diabetes. He poetically described a positive test result as “wonderfully sweet, as if imbued with honey”. Here, Dr. Willis thinks about maybe getting a new job or something.

10) Because I’m not done talking about urine yet: in the 17th century, diabetes was known as “the pissing evil”!

11) The World Health Organization estimates that the number of people in the world with diabetes will almost double from the year 2000 to 2030. Most will be found in Asia and Africa.

12) Canadian researcher Dr. Frederick Banting led his team to the discovery of insulin in 1921. The idea of isolating it had once appeared to him in a dream. Before insulin, the treatment for diabetes was gradual starvation leading to certain death, with the average life expectancy at about six months. Insulin was really the first miracle drug.

Dr. Banting, getting ready to be a hero to millions, no big deal.

13) Dr. Banting and his team could have retired on the riches from their discovery of insulin. Instead, they sold the patent rights to the University of Toronto for just one dollar, in the hopes that insulin could be made widely available to save the lives of people with diabetes. (I know… you’re not crying; you just have something in your eye. Me, too.)

Charles Best and Frederick Banting stand with the first dog to be kept alive with insulin injections after its pancreas was removed.

14) November 14 is World Diabetes Day, commemorating Dr. Frederick Banting’s birthday. Wear blue to help raise diabetes awareness (tell people why!), high-five your favourite people with diabetes, and consider a donation to your favourite diabetes organization.

The blue circle is the universal symbol for diabetes. The circle symbolizes life, health, and unity, and the blue is the colour of the flag of the United Nations.

15) Symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, exhaustion, dry skin, and blurred vision. It is extremely fast (5 seconds), cheap (about 1 dollar), and easy (1 finger poke) to have your blood sugar checked, so ask your doctor to test you if you are showing any symptoms.

It barely hurts at all, I promise!

16) Diabetes is NOT contagious or transmittable in any way! So go ahead and give your favourite person with diabetes that hug you’ve been holding back.

Obviously I need this.

17) In 1797, Scottish physician John Rollo created the first medical therapy to treat diabetes. He prescribed an “animal diet” for his patients of “plain blood puddings” and “fat and rancid meat”. Blargh. The moral of this story is that the good ol’ days were actually totally the WORST.

Here's the sick fuck now.

18) People with diabetes should have regular eye exams. This is important because complications can arise from long-term damage to the blood vessels anywhere in the body. However, the only blood vessels in the body that can be examined non-invasively are in the eye, so an eye exam gives a sense of what might be happening elsewhere in the body.

19) It is less costly (not to mention more humane) for a society to support proper diabetes care and management than it is to treat diabetes complications down the line. Encourage your politicians to fund diabetes care programs and financial assistance for those with diabetes!

20) The ancient Greek physician Aretaeus described diabetes as “the melting down of flesh and limbs into urine”, and said that “life (with diabetes) is short, disgusting, and painful”. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Here’s Aretaeus. Doesn’t really look like an optimist, does he?

21) Elizabeth Evans Hughes arrived in Toronto in 1922 to be treated by Dr. Banting for her diabetes. She was 13, weighed only 45 pounds and could hardly walk, She responded immediately to insulin treatment, lived a productive life, and died many years later at 73. The day she injected insulin for the first time on her own, she wrote to her mother: “I can do it perfectly beautifully. Now I feel so absolutely independent.”

Elizabeth lived longer by starvation than almost anyone ever had, surviving for 3 years to see the discovery of insulin.

22) It is now considered somewhat passé to call someone a diabetic. The more modern term is “person with diabetes”. (This applies not just to those with diabetes, but with other conditions, as well. It’s called “people-first language”, and its purpose is to avoid the subconscious dehumanization of people with health conditions and disabilities.)  Now you know!

23) The question I get asked the most is “doesn’t that hurt?” when I’m noticed poking myself to test my blood sugar or giving insulin. The answer is: yep, sometimes it does!

24) Why diabetes research still needs your help: despite advances in treatment, someone in the world dies of diabetes-related causes every 10 seconds. Please consider donating to diabetes research this month (or any month. Or every month!)

25) Gary Hall, Jr. is an American swimmer diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999. His doctors told him he would never again be able to swim at an Olympic level. Hall ignored them and went on to win ten Olympic medals - five gold, three silver, two bronze. (He also punched a shark repeatedly until it swam away from biting his sister, while we’re talking about how cool this guy is.)

Attention, sharks: Beware of Gary Hall, Jr.

26) The days of people with diabetes avoiding certain foods are over! Many people with diabetes now count carbohydrates, and adjust their insulin levels according to how many grams of carbohydrate they eat. (I give one unit of insulin for every 7 grams of carbohydrate I eat, whether's it a carb from a carrot, or a carb from Hershey syrup.)

27) In 1922, children with diabetes were often kept in large hospital wards, comatose and with no chance of survival. The Banting team went from bed to bed in one ward, injecting their newly-isolated insulin into the patients. Many of them awoke to the unimaginable joy of their families before the doctors even reached the end of the ward. Isn’t that the greatest story?!

Here are Best and Banting again looking peeved.  Apparently they fought all the dang time.

28) When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1986, I measured the sugar in my urine by putting 2 drops of urine in a test tube with 10 drops of water, dropping in a Clinitest tablet, and watching it boil and get hot and turn every colour of the rainbow. Urine testing was the only way of monitoring diabetes until home blood glucose kits came along in the 1970’s. Testing has improved incredibly over the years, but I can’t lie - being an 8 year-old mad urine scientist was pretty awesome.

“Modern and portable” Clinitest kit from 1963. Why, just pop that giant wooden case under your arm and you’re ready to go anywhere!

29) In 1989, the Queen Mum visited Banting House in London, Ontario, and lit a flame. The flame will burn as a symbol of hope until the cure for diabetes is found.

Queen Liz the first firing it up.

30) I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 26 years and I’m still keepin’ on. It’s a challenge every day, but it has also brought wonderful people and experiences into my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I believe a cure for Type 1 diabetes will be found in my lifetime. Support diabetes research!

This is Sara. She is beautiful, smart, funny, a creative genius and a week in to her adventure of pumping.

If you are wondering where you can donate to diabetes charities this month please visit the following places:

My JDRF Walk page
The Canadian Diabetes Association

If you can not financially afford to make a donation, why don't you get out and do a Big Blue Test! You don't need to have diabetes!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Life with T1D

In honour of Diabetes Month, I am chronicling one or two events that are affected by diabetes every day on my Facebook and my blog. I am a day behind (I know, already!) on my blog so here are my first two days!

I am doing this to spread awareness that while it seems that I am able to handle a lot of tasks thrown at me and my disease well, it is challenging. It hopefully will give a little insight into day-to-day life with T1D.