Saturday, 29 August 2015

Diabetes complications are real! Let's talk about it.

What would happen to me if I had to face one of my biggest fears? I'm absolutely petrified of diabetes complications.

I used to think that if I lost my sight and could not see my children anymore that it would be the last straw for me. I would imagine finding it very difficult to find a way to "power through".

But meeting Kimberly Hislop taught me that I would probably face it like I do my diabetes-head on.

I met Kimberly at the MasterLab Diabetes Advocacy conference in July, where she touched so many lives. She is a powerful advocate for diabetes and I'm sharing her guest post on SixUntilMe because her message should be shared.

Diabetes complications are real. I think because soooo many people tell us about their relatives who've lost limbs to diabetes, that in an act of rebellion, we overcompensate with positivity. This makes people with complications feel like they're letting the side down. But the truth is, diabetes complications do happen, and we need to talk about them!

Terrible photography! Myself & Kim.
Thanks Kim for your bravery and starting the conversation!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

SeaPeptide Adventures; for People w/Diabetes who want to do amazingly adventurous things!

I was very fortunate to attend the MasterLab for Diabetes Advocates Conference 2015 on a scholarship from the Diabetes Hands Foundation. I was also fortunate to have someone nice to share a room with, who was also a scholarship winner.

I had advance warning of who my room mate was going to be - enough warning to googled her. I love Google but this was one of the few instances where google let me down. 

All I found on Erin Spinetto, was that in 2014, she led the Sea Peptide Swimmers, the first ever all type 1 diabetic team to complete the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West and In 2011, she sailed solo 100 miles down the Florida Keys after doctors told her I couldn't sail alone with diabetes. This was a significant achievement!

That was only the tip of the iceberg. Upon our brief "Hi, I'm ....." I realised that this lady is a serious adventurer, sporty type! The complete opposite of me the dowdy housewife.

But we did have a lot in common - our passion for living well, actually, thriving with type 1 diabetes.

She had just come directly from North Carolina where the lead a team of Stand Up Paddle Boarders on a 100 mile paddle!!! I feel so fortunate that she was able to hold a conversation with me.

Erin lives in San Diego, California, is married with two children. She is a science teacher and, as we mentioned, an adventurer.

She is also an author! In January 2013, she published her book "Islands and Insulin", where she chronicles her solo sailing adventures and the ups and downs of life as a diabetic. In Islands and Insulin, Erin sails a 22 foot sailboat down the Florida Keys as she fights winds, currents and swells that threaten to capsize the boat.

What Erin is doing now? She has founded the Sea Peptide Adventure Academy
a home for people with diabetes who are doing, or want to do, amazingly adventurous things.

Sea Peptide Adventure Academy runs an 8-week email based training program that shows you, step-by-step, how to choose, plan, and execute an adventure and how to use adventure to alleviate the stress of a chronic disease like diabetes.

If you would like to find out more about Erin and Sea Peptide Adventures, she explains in this live interview by the Diabetes Hands Foundation. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Will my Daughter Resent my Diabetes?

Last November, I had the privilege of presenting Managing Your Family and Your Diabetes for Diabetes Ireland's National Diabetes Conference.

If the event that I am about to describe had happened before I gave that talk, I think it would have been a very different talk. My daughter and myself had a clash of needs that prompted me to wonder how our relationship would take the combination of my diabetes and her teen years.

My daughter is 11 and is my eldest and therefore "breaks me in as a parent". She is a Tween! Deep breath!

While we were on holidays, actually, we were heading home the next day, so maybe we were ready to be home and approximately 16 hours travelling stood in our way?

We went shopping in the Mall of America, THE largest shopping mall in America. So large it has an amusement park in the middle.

We had to go shopping as we absolutely had to buy formal shoes for my daughter who has a large foot for her 11 years and living on the west coast of Ireland doesn't give you the variety and options that a large, child's foot, or her mother would like.

*Note to self never leave shopping until the end of a holiday!

The afternoon was not going well. We had said good bye to the lake and to our family. We were tired from all the activities during our holiday and we were a little sad.

However, we had successfully chosen her shoes and she wanted to look at sandals next which I deemed, in my own head, a purchase of opportunity and not of necessity. I needed a new pair of runners.

I was feeling tired though, so I intended to zoom around quickly. Feeling tired might also mean that maybe I was having a hypo?  My daughter came up to me and said "I don't know where Dad is", I suggested that she sit in the comfy armchairs while she waited for me.

She came up to me again and I really don't know what transpired next thing I know, she's sitting on the ground at the end of the aisle, scowling and about to cry.

I remember thinking; She needs me but I can't help her right now I need to help myself. I sat too. I ate a pear while sitting, to be safe. I needed help! Call for back up! No answer. Eat while thinking. Stand up for inspiration. There's back up - call out to him.

It was the first time I felt her needs conflicted with mine. It doesn't matter much if a small baby has to wait a minute or two for their next feed while you test blood glucose levels. You can kind-of plan for it. But, how can I plan for unexpected, unpredictable tween outbursts.

I realised that she is at the age now where she will start to realise that my diabetes has an impact on her. Will she resent me for it? I hope not!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Diabetes Friends for Life & MasterLab

In July, I was in a hotel resort. In Diabetes World, surrounded by thousands of people with diabetes, and at the Friends for Life 2015 Diabetes Conference. I felt like I was in a dream!

Those of you who have been following my blog for more than a year will know that I attended FFL UK last August and wrote about it for weeks. If you haven't seen those posts, here is the first one. Well, FFL US has given me enough material to write for months maybe even a year!

What is Friends for Life (FFL)?

The FFL conferences are organised by ChildrenwithDiabetes, an American non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes. (CWD) was started by Jeff Hitchcock in 1995 in response to his daughter Marissa's diabetes diagnosis at the age of two. The idea was -- and continues to be -- to share experiences with other families, so that together, we can all make a difference in the lives of everyone living with type 1 diabetes.

In August 1999, a diabetes Mom on the CWD email list, Laura Billetdeaux, was planning her family holiday in Orlando in June 2000. She sent out an email to her friends on CWD asking if anyone was interested in meeting up there? 550 people from across the US showed up!

That was the first FFL! And FFL 2015 was their 66th conference to date.

Some FFL 2015 Facts.

- There were over 2,000 families, attending FFL 2015! That number, in itself is impressive, but when you consider how many people make up family then it's mind blowing!

- Anybody who is anybody in the world of diabetes attends this conference. Such as;
  • Gary Scheiner, author of "Think like a Pancreas"
  • Moira McCarthy, Diabetes Mom, Advocate, Autor of “Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Parent Survival Guide” 
  • Charles Kimble, professional race car driver and is the first licensed driver with diabetes in the history of INDYCAR.

to name but a few....

- It is huge. So big, some of the booths have play areas for the kids.
- They have childcare facilities, all ages of children programmes, tween and teen programmes, so that ALL of the grown-ups can fully experience the presentations.

They next FFL that might be of interest to folks is in London - however, this conference is sold out since last March.

But if you were planning your 2016 family holiday in America then why consider making the FFL 2016 conference part of your holiday in July? It's MORE than worth it!

I put together some of my photos from both of the conferences I attended in Orlando if you would like a better taste.

"Diabetes Hands Foundation, through the Diabetes Advocates program, covered the costs of my travel, registration and lodging while at MasterLab through a scholarship. That being said, the views and opinions expressed are my own