A family living well with type 1 diabetes.

Posts tagged ‘Global Village’

Get Your Blue On!

Today is World Diabetes Day. Today is the day we don the blue attire and raise awareness. So here it goes:

  • Diabetes currently affects 246 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 380 million by 2025.
  • More than 3 million Canadians have some form of diabetes.
  • Over 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes.
  • Canada has the sixth highest incidence rate of type 1 diabetes in children 14 years or younger in the world.
  • The incidence rate of type 1 diabetes is rising by three to five per cent in Canada; the greatest rise occurs in five to nine year olds.
  • Worldwide 70,000 children develop type 1 diabetes annually (almost 200 children a day).
  • Globally, every ten seconds two people develop diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of global death by disease.
  • Globally, every ten seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes.
  • According to the International Diabetes Federation, each year 3.8 million deaths are attributable to diabetes. An even greater number die from cardiovascular disease made worse by diabetes-related lipid disorders and hypertension
  • Living with type 1 diabetes requires approximately 1,460 needles a year (based on four injections per day) and 2,190 finger pokes a year to test blood sugar levels.
  • The World Health Organization indicates five to ten per cent of a nation’s health budget is spent on diabetes.
  • Diabetes and its complications cost the Canadian economy more than $17.4 billion a year.

This is a disease we can’t ignore. We must take action. Do something. Donate. Write. Talk. Educate. Test in public. Wear blue. Be heard. Be seen.

Imagine.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you can imagine it, it can be achieved.”

I invite you to join me in daring to imagine a cure.

They’ve done it! Those scientists who have been accepting our steady flow of hard earned donations and working tirelessly for many, many years have finally done it! A CURE for our babies — our children, young and old!

It wasn’t easy, and the faith of many faltered along the way. Promises were broken time and time again and it wore us down. How could we continue to believe in a myth that only served to disappoint and deflate our spirits. And as children with diabetes grew into adults with diabetes and learned by necessity to live with this ruthless disease, their dreams of a cure became as distant a memory as their diagnosis stories. The repeated disappointment was too much to endure. They watched as more children were diagnosed and given the same promise of a cure. They knew better, but they couldn’t crush the spirit of the newly drafted recruits. It was all they had to help them through those first few years after diagnosis. Besides, they’d find out over time.

But the headlines read “A CURE AT LAST!” on the papers today and told of hundreds of thousands of people rejoicing in the streets all over the world, planning the parties to celebrate their new freedom — freedom from the injections, finger pokes, site changes, carb counting and the constant, never ending struggle to regain and maintain blood glucose homeostasis. Freedom from the fear of losing our precious, precious children in the night as they sleep. Freedom from the worry about long term complications, some of which are too horrible to mention.

Indeed, the road has been long and fraught with set-backs. Years of hurting families gathering together to walk for a cure, struggling to stay positive but each year without a cure casting a little more shadow of doubt on their already broken hearts.

But no more.

No more walks are necessary. No more fund raisers. No more funerals for children stolen by an invisible bandit known as “Nocturnal Hypoglycemia” or the more macabre name “Dead-In-Bed syndrome”.  The goal has been reached! The cure will be made available to humankind and this relentless, ruthless, lawless disease will become extinct — a part of our history. We will be teaching future generations about the age before the great cure. It will be known as the second dark age. Because along with the cure for type 1 diabetes came a better understanding of the human immune system and set in motion a chain of events that would make possible, more than ever before, a cure for many other auto-immune diseases, including cancer.

Type 1 Diabetes is no more.

A cure.

A CURE.

Let’s get the job done. Let’s do this for all of our children and for all those we have lost.

Letting Go

There are a few significant events in every parent’s journey that mark a time of pride and excitement; first words spoken, first steps, the first time you say goodbye to your child at the babysitter, preschool, kindergarten… These are events worth documenting, photographing and celebrating.

But some of these events are also pretty darn anxiety laden. It isn’t easy for parents — often (but not always) moms — to say goodbye to our babies and trust their care to someone else. But we must, and we do. Sometimes it doesn’t feel natural, but it’s a part of life, right? …to say goodbye and help our children make that slow journey toward ever increasing independence.

Jenna has begun her school journey. She is attending full time kindergarten and, in all honesty, she is absolutely loving it. She no longer has to feel left behind watching her big sister walk into the school every morning. She is a big kid now, in real school. She is ready.

Sure, she had some anxiety at first. She was shy, withdrawn and a little lost. But her teacher, Ms. C, handled it beautifully and in no time Jenna warmed up to her.

Of course, the big pink elephant standing right smack-dab in the middle of the room is…

DIABETES.

Without question Jenna’s diabetes has been a tricky one to juggle. There are a few factors that make it so:

  • Jenna is far from completely independent with her diabetes management. (Of course she is, she’s five.)
  • Jenna is often unaware of her lows until she is well below what constitutes a low.
  • Jenna is stoic. This scares the ever-loving stuffing out of me as she is not apt to speak up if she is having a problem, preferring to avoid the spotlight and be “just like all the other kids.”
  • No staff member at the school is legally allowed to administer either insulin OR glucagon to a child with type 1 diabetes in our province.
  • A single teacher in a busy kindergarten class of 20 young children, all equally deserving of attention, cannot possibly be expected to do her job AND watch a child with type 1 diabetes for the often subtle signs and symptoms of hypo or hyperglycemia, let alone react to a low or high in the appropriate way. (I have two children and trust me – this is no easy task at the best of times.)
  • Since no staff are able to give glucagon, it is absolutely vital that Jenna receive timely intervention in the event of a low to avoid a dire situation.

Given these obstacles, it was crucial that we obtain government funding for an additional support staff in the classroom to assist Jenna with her care.

The trouble was, we had to actually prove that she really does need this assistance.

Jenna’s pediatrician likely anticipated this because I received a letter from him this summer stating that her medical condition placed her in the special category that makes her eligible for this added support. That letter turned out to be the means to a fabulous end and the way it played out was beautiful poetry to this D-Mom who felt all kinds of panic wondering why I actually had to prove my daughter’s need for help to ensure her safety while in school. To me it was as clear as the nose on my face. But this is the system we have and this is the way things are done.

This summer I met twice with the public health nurse who gathered all the pertinent data regarding Jenna’s medical needs and her care. She drafted a care plan outlining, to the utmost specificity, how Jenna’s diabetes management is to be conducted in school: If A, then B. Then follow up with C fifteen minutes later. However, if D, then E…

It is clear, precise and to be followed to the nth.

This care plan was presented at a meeting we — members of the school staff, the public health nurse and I — had last week in preparation for Jenna’s school start this past Monday. This meeting was to provide diabetes training to the staff and give a chance for the concerns of everyone involved to be voiced. The vice principle was also present. She is the lady with pull. She, along with the letter from Jenna’s pediatrician, was key in achieving the ideal outcome.

When the meeting was winding down, I noticed her eyes were wide as she digested the full scope of what she had learned. She realized that this was a life and death situation which would require constant diligence and monitoring beyond what one teacher would be capable of. She promptly excused herself from the meeting stating she had some phone calls to make in her office, assuring us that she would be back.

Staff members who had been pulling for us since last spring when this whole process got started gave me subtle, reassuring pats on the back. They knew her and knew that this reaction bode well for us.

I whispered to Jenna’s teacher “What does this mean?”

“It’s a very good sign. She realizes now what we are dealing with. She can make this happen for us” she whispered back then gave me a wink.

It was all I could do to maintain my composure. All the anxiety and fears I had been living with regarding Jenna’s start in the public school system that dated all the way back to her diagnosis were daring to subside.

The vice principle returned not 15 minutes later and announced that Jenna would have an assistant assigned to her in the class room for four hours everyday.

And it was like  letting go of something I had been clutching with a death grip for three and a half years.

It was validation. They understood how precarious my child’s health is — the fine line we walk.

So now Jenna is attending classes everyday and looking every inch the big girl, school kid that she is in her new school clothes with her giant backpack on her back. I still go in to the school to give her boluses for her snack and her lunch — that won’t change until Jenna is old enough to do so on her own with supervision — and, until today, I had been spending my days in that little room off her class room to be available in case there were any questions. But my presence there has become less necessary as her worker, who is so awesome, has become more confident and capable. I must remain in town (we live rurally, almost a twenty minute drive from the school) to bolus and in case there is a problem — a stubborn high, a dislodged infusion site, etc. — but I am quickly phasing out my constant presence there.

And now it’s my turn to feel lost — proud and relieved, but lost, nonetheless. Suddenly I am struggling to fill some free time and it’s a foreign feeling. I am trusting others to ensure my child’s safety, as capable as they are. I won’t deny it, I’ve had some moments of anxiety sneak up and put me in a head-lock. But I’ll be okay. If there is one thing I am, it’s tough. That is undeniable. I’ve been able to wrestle free from the anxiety when it does ambush me. I just remember that there are good people at that school who really care about my daughter and her wellbeing. They want her to be safe too.

Another milestone, complicated by diabetes, has been reached. Now there’s just the dreaded teen years and college to worry about.

Just keep blogging, Sherry — just keep blogging…

Happy Canada Day!

There are a few things going on in the Diabetes Blogosphere that I felt worthy of a late night bout of blogging. So join me in a rare, bulleted JPM post, won’t you?

  • The heartbreaking reality is that, in spite of the discovery of insulin 90 years ago, there are still people in the world that don’t have access to this lifesaving drug. Furthermore, diabetes is a global epidemic. It is projected that 490 million people worldwide will have diabetes by the year 2030. The International Diabetes Federation has just launched the “O is for OUTRAGE – Postcard Campaign” in an effort to compel President Obama to attend the UN’s second summit on global health issues. The hope is that if President Obama demonstrates concern for these alarming facts, leaders of other nations will follow his lead and more action will be taken to intervene. Visit the IDF’s “O is for OUTRAGE – Postcard Campaign” site here to sign and submit your postcard to President Obama urging him to take action.

  • Kerri of Six Until Me posted this vlog today. Evidently, Kerri is sprouting a green thumb and as a fellow green thumb sporter, I can completely relate to the sheer exhaustion she speaks of after a stint of “playing in the dirt”. But if my treadmill ever says to me the things Kerri’s has said to her, I might just go flying off the back end of the thing in a fit of hysterics. Check it out:

  • Lee Ann Thill of The Butter Compartment is hosting the second annual Diabetes Art Day. Last year’s event was a huge success and she is gearing up for another awesome D-art extravaganza! I’m already pondering the possibilities for my own artistic submission and that of my two girls. The date is September 1st and this year Lee Ann has launched the official Diabetes Art Day web site! Check it out! And get those creative juices flowing.
  • Finally, I have to share a little something, in keeping with Canada Day tomorrow, that is just plain cool. Apparently, we Canucks are getting some new money. And it’s made from polymer. And it’s see through. And it pays homage to some homegrown boys that have come to mean a great deal to me and to millions of other people affected by a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. The legacy of Dr. Banting and Dr. Best lives on to this very day, saving lives the world over with the tireless work they did to isolate insulin that allows people with the inability to produce their own insulin to live. Check out the video put out by the Bank of Canada here and look for the bottle of insulin on the $100 bill.

A Facebook friend and fellow Canadian pointed out how fitting it is that the image is on such a high monetary denomination. I agree, it is an outrage that this little bottle of liquid life support is so expensive and unattainable for so many in the world.

Which brings this post full circle.

Have a fun and safe Canada Day.

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