Tag Archives: Diet

The Pressure of Managing a Type 1 Diabetic

The one thing people never talk about, is the pressure associated with managing a Type 1 Diabetic child. Yes this disease is manageable, yes, there are many devices that allow for better management of a relentless disease, but the underlying responsibility and pressure are forgotten in the fold.

As the parent to a Type 1 Diabetic child, my son’s existence relies on my ability to care for him. Working feverishly to maintain stable blood sugars can feel like a futile effort most days. Not letting a bad day with Diabetes define you, can be even harder.

There have been many nights that I sit and reflect on the day and feel the guilt of things I should have done differently. After all, we have been working at managing this beast called Type 1 Diabetes for over three years now, I should be a pro by now. What I don’t account for is human error, it is so difficult to function at one hundred percent, when working on only a few hours of interrupted sleep.

Type 1 Diabetes robs you of so much, it robs you of joy some days, robs you of sleep, robs you of peace, and piles immense pressure onto an already weakened spirit. Some days it feels like it is crushing you. Yet through the ashes, beneath all this disease robs, it pushes you to view life through a different lens.

Every day, every moment is a gift. We fight every moment of everyday for survival, and for normalcy. Yet, the pressure is still there. When a severe low, or massive high rear their ugly heads, the pressure to stabilize my son can be suffocating.

When I feel completely under attack from the pressure that managing Type 1 ensues, I find that changing the scenery can help. Once I get Carter stabilized I will take the kids out of the house, take them to the park. Getting out in the fresh air, and changing our view has a forgiving effect that helps me feel human again. It can be easy, sitting in the house, feverishly monitoring blood sugars, carb intakes, insulin on board, to forget there is more than survival, there is life to live.

Some days, I have to be forced. Forced to look at the bright side, forced to get out of the house, forced to find the silver lining. These are the days when the pressure can seem like it is too much, where I would pay for a break, but it’s on these days, when once we have found the joy, it is so much more meaningful, because we have had to fight for it.

Through the eyes of a Type 1 Diabetic

Persona_Non_Grata_With_DiabetesI was contacted by the author of a book called Persona Non Grata with Diabetes and asked if I would like to interview him.  I found this to be a great opportunity to find out what living with Type 1 Diabetes was like, through the eyes of a Type 1 Diabetic himself.

As the author, Paul Cathcart put in the forward within his book, “I have written ‘Persona non grata with diabetes,’ a lowbrow walk through of real life with diabetes, hoping that from within these shared pages we are able to draw parallels and exchange in lifetime experience, exemplified throughout in life defining moments.  None of which stray to far, if at all, from a life with diabetes but all of which touch on this condition in one way or another; offering comfort in the knowledge that what we are going through both physically and emotionally is shared by us all.”

That last sentence spoke to me, as this is the reason why I wrote this blog.  I remember when my son was diagnosed and I looked online for support, I remember the relief I felt when I found mothers who were experiencing the same feelings I was, those who wrote about the devastation and frustration they go through daily.   Though it didn’t change my life, or my day, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone.  To feel as though what you experience is shared by other people, allows you to feel accepted, even if the acceptance is into a rough world where others would rather avoid.

My interview with Paul is below, and his book can be found on Amazon, and be purchased on your Kindle.  Thank you again Paul for being so candid and allowing others into the struggles you have faced, in an effort to close the gap on feeling alone while managing this disease.

Question and Answer with Paul Cathcart, author of Persona Non Grata with Diabetes:

Diabetic Journal: When were you diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?

Paul Cathcart: I was diagnosed at the tender age of 16. I say tender because the years leading to diagnosis, when my pancreas was blinking like a traffic light, were some of the most difficult.

I know its standard understanding, that before we become type 1, that our body may take a while to finally succumb, but no one really thinks about the social surrounding.

I was in a class full of kids, back when they used to give us cartons of milk at lunch time, and at the point where they stopped was the some point when I was having my first dizzy spells and my mouth was attached to the tap.

But on a social / educational level that was lost, I was invisible because I was at least well fed, and the other kids were often collapsing with hunger or bringing knifes into school.

Searing cramps were indistinguishable at home from teenage growing pains and locking myself in the bathroom every twenty minutes, at the age of 16, well you can guess what my family thought I was doing in there.

DJ:  Can you remember a time when you didn’t have Type 1 Diabetes?

PC:  Yeah, I remember boundless energy and I got that feeling back when I sorted my diet out (went low carb).

DJ: How do you think diabetes affects your life, both good and bad?

PC: I have been through some harsh times with my diabetes; uncontrolled blood sugar has no doubt impacted on my emotional range and personality on every level of family life, personal and social.

But on the up side, diabetes has maybe saved my life. I’m a Glasgow boy at the end of the day. My father was an alcoholic, my grandfather, my lowing step-grandfather; the all drank themselves to death.

I grew up on a housing estate and by my late teenage years, I could see the kids I refused to try drugs with beg for change in town with heroin pot marks on their faces.

And even if I did have the brain to avoid that without the prevention of type 1 diabetes, I’d probably still be stupid enough to be killing myself with cigarettes and junk food.

So yeah, I play to my strengths and diabetes forces me to eat well and live well.

DJ: Think back to the worst low or high you experience. What did you do to correct it?

PC: The highs were persistent in my youth. I’d forget to take my insulin with me on nights out and vomit my way home, unable to digest the following day.

I drank a bottle of Jack Daniels diluted with Pepsi Max once (see, thinking ahead) and I had my stomach pumped, with a Doctor screaming at me because rightly so, that amount of alcohol could have killed anyone, especially a diabetic.

But really, I could have killed myself more with the missed injection I didn’t totally understand the impact of, as the vomiting turned out to be ketoacidosis and I was pretty close to collapsing and freezing to death on the road.

The worst low never actually happened till between Christmas and New Year last year – clever me, on a clean diet with loads of working out inflating my metabolism through the roof, gave in and had a Chinese takeaway.

The problem was, to deal with this treat I had a bunch of insulin and I’d forgotten about the bunch I’d had earlier in the evening when enjoying a day off health. Terror, Ambulance called, couldn’t keep my sugar above 1.4, vomiting everything up for 40 minutes, pure fear till the ambulance arrived.

So to correct that, I shall try not to be an idiot again – but I am only human.

DJ: Being an adult, does diabetes affect your life in the workplace?

PC: How about screaming an expletive in an auditorium when my blood sugar was through the roof. My dad was also diagnosed with cancer the same week and my head was in a mess.

Other than that, going to the bathroom every two minutes made me feel silly. And yeah, later jobs in life, not being able to complete the three-month probatio

Just a spoonful of sugar

Carter and Daddy, first hours home from the hospital. - November 2013
Carter and Daddy, first hours home from the hospital. – November 2013

I think one of the biggest misconceptions of Type 1 Diabetes, or maybe even Diabetes in general is that it’s caused by too much sugar in the diet.  I remember feeling the need to justify what I feed my kids the moment the nutritionist walked into the room.  Once we spoke with her and were counseled on what foods typically raise glucose, and were guided to watch the amount of carbohydrates that Carter consumed,  I felt less judged, but stifled for sure.  What options were left when you had to cut the amount of carbs, especially for a growing little boy?  I had heard that I would have to stock my kitchen with pasta and rice as he grows, in order to keep him full.  Along with the injections, the diet factor was extremely overwhelming.  I was pleased to hear from the nutritionist that I feed my children really well and that the only adjustment I would need to make would be measuring out how many grams of each Carter would be consuming.  That was a relief.  However, when you speak with people and they hear that Carter is a diabetic the assumption is that I obviously didn’t monitor his sugar intake, or maybe that I fed my son donuts every morning with a topper of pop tarts.  I must admit that I was nervous about the whole measurement aspect, but once we were home and I started being very vigilant with it, measuring became second nature.  It’s amazing how I can now eye ball 1/2 a cup.   I found the easiest thing for me was to have the whole family placed on Carter’s way of eating.  That makes it easier for me, the cook in the house.  Right now, due to his age he is pretty picky and will only eat certain foods.  I presume, that as he gets older and his pallet grows things will get easier.  It’s been a nice adjustment for my family, I believe it’s benefited us all to be more aware of portions and conscious of what we are putting into our bodies.  I truly believe we will all benefit from this lifestyle change.

For more information on what diabetics can eat, and recipe suggestions click here.

Join a Diabetes trial, or not to join a trial?

Carter Sun
Carter at the park – 1 month before being diagnosed

One of the questions I have been burdened with post diagnosis is, to join a Diabetes trial or not to join a trial.  I don’t necessarily want my son or my family to become guinea pigs for science, but then am I impeding a cure for Diabetes?  It’s such a fine line, in my opinion, once diagnosed to battle.  It’s unreal, the way the endocrinologists will rattle off all these trials that you would be lucky to be a part of, but the reality of the situation is that you will be signing you and your family up for being poked and prodded in an effort to gain some semblance of an understanding as to why Type 1 Diabetes decided to rear it’s ugly head in my family.  At the end of the day my husband and I decided that our son gets poked enough and we will leave the Diabetes trials up to others who may be more ambitious then us.  I want to find a cure more then anyone, but realize that this early in “our” diagnosis, we have different things to focus on.  I need to be paying attention to preservation of shot sites in order to make sure our sons connective tissue isn’t impaired, and monitor his blood sugar and diet (which is a blast with a 19 month old….).  Being only 2 months in, I revel in the selfish stance we have taken by not placing our son in a trial.  I mean, if I’m being honest, since we left the hospital I feel like I am in a constant trial.  I never know how my day is going to go, we could have a wonderful morning with amazing readings, only to have a 3 hour nap that results in a catastrophic high glucose reading which leaves me scrambling to lower it with activity and water before the next blood check that I have to record, lest I be accosted by the endocrinologist for the high blood sugar reading, and discussing all I did wrong in order to have a level that high.  At this point, there is enough pressure on us, I believe our decision was the best for us at the present time….we are doing just fine being a part of the Carter Cheatham trial and trying to figure out the best ways to manage our son’s blood sugar with diet and exercise.

To find out more about Diabetes trials, you can visit the National Institute for Health to see what trials may be available.