Thursday 27 May 2010

Two minor miracles before leaving the comfort zone

Miracle number one: I managed to finish this scarf late last night and just in time for our camping trip. It means I can start something new in the van en route to Yorkshire.

It was SO EASY.

I highly recommend it to anyone new to knitting as it just involves plain stocking stitch and then dropping stitches the the end and laddering them all the way down the scarf.

Miracle number two:Yesterday I tried Jen's recipe for pancakes, adding a little vanilla and some chopped strawberries to the mix. We ate them with more strawberries and some kiwi and, hold the phone, Frank ate two of them and all his fruit!!

This is a minor miracle as he is really stretching me at the moment with his limitations on what he will and won't eat.

He used to eat anything : soup, stews, pasta with sauces etc. etc. Him eating these and enjoying them was a sign of things to come. I am determined on our return from Yorkshire to get to grips with introducing more variety to our diets, because the fact of the matter is that we are all eating a bit of a mono diet so that we can eat together.
When we get back next week there will be a new sheriff in town!

Food is provided on our camping trip so we should be able to tempt the boy wonder with a few new treats. He will be out of his comfort zone but also he LOVES camping so very much that he'll love it all.
I am, however, experiencing more than a little disquiet at leaving my own comfort zone of dealing with diabetes at home. We have all our kit packed, including extra supplies. We have located the nearest A&E in York and about 25 minutes drive away from the campsite.

We spent nearly a month in Brittany over Christmas and I was nervous then.
I am just as nervous now.
This perplexes me as I imagined it would get easier.
But it won't stop me because when I think of it I am not sure there even is a comfort zone!

I'll be back at the end of next week with tales of fun and, judging by the weather, probably frostbite.

Monday 24 May 2010

Granny and Monkey Grandad

My parents are referred to thus by Frank.
My Dad is Monkey Grandad because whenever we go anywhere with them and I'm driving Dad sits in the back with Frank and plays with his toy monkey.
It has suction pads on its paws and they stick it to the ceiling of the van and count as high as they can before it falls.
(East Town Park)

My boy and I drove over to see them this weekend, whilst Andrew worked on decorating the dining room. They took us for lunch and then to the park not far from their flat.
(Monkey Grandad pushes the swing)

The weather was just glorious.
Too hot for me in fact.
I am most certainly northern European!

( Monkey Grandad, Cheeky Monkey and Granny)
We played frisbee, went on the swings and walked along the stream.
(Monkey Grandad and Frank look for fish in the stream)
It was a quiet and calm and GOOD day.
I needed it.

Life is returning to normal with Frank feeling well again and Budd being home from Scotland.
We are off camping at a festival in Yorkshire soon and are looking forward to some concentrated family time away from home.
Camping and being at a festival and fitting in injections and blood glucose tests will be interesting. I have a feeling a pump will be on the cards before too long.
My "don't freak me out and talk to me about pumps, la la la, I'm not listening, no more new things for the love of God" approach I used last time to our consultant has become a "Hhmm, so tell me about this pump lark...".
She will, no doubt , give me a gold star for my "Get a grip on yourself woman"chart!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Chocolate Clusters

For all you harried D-parents out there, these are a great pick-me-up without the tiredness after the initial sugar kick of regular chocolate.
During Diabetes Blog Week I made a batch of these to keep in the freezer for when temptation struck or for Frank as a healthy snack.
Before diabetes struck I knew I wanted to allow Frank to eat chocolate as part of a meal or as a healthy snack, never as a bribe.
We love these in this family and someone did recently request the recipe.
The joy of this is that there is no recipe and so it can never go wrong!

You will need:
dark chocolate (I use 70% or 85% cocoa solids, normally Green & Blacks or Montezumas)
sunflower seeds
coconut oil (optional)
orange or lemon essential oil (optional)
dessicated coconut (optional)
(I guess what I am saying here is that chocolate and sunflower seeds are the only things you really need, the rest is up to you!)

Melt chocolate in a bowl sitting over a pan of boiling water, stirring occasionally.

Add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil.

Add some coconut oil which gives a glossy look and adds good fats.

Add your sunflower seeds and stir to coat them all.

Resist the temptation at this point to dive in and eat your way out!

Use a teaspoon to place small piles of the mixture onto greaseproof paper and sprinkle with a little coconut if desired.

Leave to set, in the fridge this will happen more quickly.

Once set these keep really well in the fridge or even freezer.

They are full of good things. Good fats, vitamins, iron, fibre and yummy chocolate.

I haven't counted the carbs because they will depend on your choice of chocolate and how much of everything you use.

Frank is allowed one as a snack, often with walnuts or almonds as well.

Hope you enjoy them!

What next? A plague of locusts?

So, Diabetes Blog Week ends and I'm feeling a bit bereft but also rather chipper at having done a week alone.
This is the ideal time, say the Gods above us, to throw the girl a curve-ball. She's all smug and pleased with herself.
Let's send the boy a fever and get him hospitalised for a few hours.
That'll teach her not to relax and feel like she's got some of this covered.
Oh, and while we're sending things to Colchester, let's get that plague of locusts commissioned to decimate her fledgling veggie garden.
I kid you not.
That was Monday!
But I am relieved Frank is OK and I am laughing, I promise you, at the bloody timing of it all.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Dream a little dream ...

When Frank was twelve weeks old we took him to mainland Europe for three months in our camper van, doing a mixture of camping, hotels and staying with friends as we visited Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
It was an amazing trip.
He was totally portable and I was breastfeeding.
I had been informed by the medical profession that we could never have children naturally (long story).
I was thirty eight and trying to resign myself to the fact.
I wasn't doing very well at that.
In the Autumn of 2006 I kept feeling so tired that I would fall asleep every afternoon after teaching in the morning.
I was convinced I was ill and joined a gym to get some energy back.
At eight weeks pregnant the penny finally dropped and I took a test.
I sobbed like a mad woman when it came out positive.
Took another and cried again. From that moment I was so full of the sheer joys and possibilities of life that I felt invincible.
I had a fantastic pregnancy and Frank was born without problems.
I felt proud I'd only needed gas and air, especially as he was 8lbs8oz , although I admit they had to prise the gas/air syphon thing out of my hand!
Then when we got home from our great trip my husband suffered a kind of long period of depression, which took a huge toll on me as a new Mum. He couldn't function some days.
It was like having two babies.
Horrible for both of us.
Then he turned a small corner and started to feel better.
A month after that Frank was diagnosed with Type 1.
Forgive me but I cannot dare to "dream a little dream..".
I try to never actively think about the idea of a cure. It is like wishing for the moon.
I will do as much as I can to support research into finding a cure.
I have to use my energy keeping my boy alive and healthy.
It is 21:39pm. Frank sleeps. He has just gone too low in his sleep, no doubt the results of a lovely time out in the woods today. He has had juice.
A cure? I don't dare imagine.
BUT I was told categorically that I would not have children ...
I have a kernel of hope but cannot write about it yet. Too raw. Too huge. Too painful.
I am so lucky to have this amazing little boy in my life, whose energy and diabetes make me a better person every day.
I have had an emotional week this week, the Diabetes Blog Week coinciding with my husband being away.
Writing about diabetes every day has weirdly done me good.
It has forced me to examine my feelings and I find that I am stronger than I thought.
I have met new friends and gained new insight into dealing with this condition.
I have felt a bit abandoned on the one hand but then also SO VERY supported.
With a full heart I thank you all for an unforgettable week.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Diabetes Snapshots

Let's Get Moving

Looking through my photos for pictures of activity I was happy to find loads. This one is of Frank running through the Autumn leaves after our three monthly check at the hospital. We park at a local Country Park and run around a bit before and afterwards.
It works for all of us, for me in terms of finding balance, and is a five minute walk to the hospital.

We are a family with about six bikes, maybe seven.

Strange to not know the exact number, you'd think? But some are in states of half repair and some are just about hanging together.

Some we use every day.

We walk and cycle most places in our town.

When we drive we take our camper van.

We do no formal exercise. No gyms. No classes, although yoga for me is coming up soon.

Frank always calls "race you!" whenever we go anywhere and we have to race to the next lamppost or postbox or corner. This is him in Brittany on Christmas Day. He and I went for a walk whilst Budd cooked the lunch. See how far ahead he is. He is FAST!

We munch apples and eat oatcakes on walks to keep levels steady.

We make up stories as we walk or Frank finds a good stick and does some magic with it, turning us into different animals so we have to flutter like butterflies or oink like pigs.
(For those of you reading this and imagining this three year old walk everywhere, rest assured, he gets carried a lot too!).
We go out and about as much as we can, visiting farms ...

and beaches.

And more beaches.

I am aware of how important a fit and healthy body is for people with diabetes. I want to set Frank up for an active life and here in the UK we are able to walk to town, walk to the local shops, walk to the library and we do it all the time.

However, there are also days when I am tired and cannot race Frank very fast.

There is space for improvement in caring for myself.

That's the bit I find hard at the moment.

To carb or not to carb

Ah, yes, carbs, carbs, carbs...
We count them and we measure them and we guess them and we still get it so very wrong and sometimes whoopingly right.
I work hard at not hiding the carb counting from Frank but also not overloading him with the issue. I do it discretely and he is showing a little interest in it all sometimes. It will develop naturally.
I don't forbid any foods and it took me a while to realise that when I was saying no to certain foods it was because I would have said no anyway, diabetes in the picture or not.
For a while I had lost the Mummy I had imagined I was going to be and thought she had to be replaced by D-Mummy.
However, I think she is one and the same person.
Some of the things we do:
Licking the spoon from making sunflower seed clusters.
I timed making them to coincide with snack time and included them in the allocated carbs.
The face of a flapjack happy child! Again licking the pan was his snack and I left enough mixture in it to be around the right amount. Doing this so reminds me of childhood and I do not want him to miss the experience just because his pancreas didn't pull the drawbridge up in time!
Licking spoons is important.

Snack laid out in the afternoon. We shared this one.

Smoothie Sunday: frozen berries with yoghurt followed by toast wth almond butter and Marmite. His favoured spreads.

Getting breakfast ready. He loves these flakes and has them with goats' milk.

I am lucky he loves his meat and nuts. He is essentially a cave man and has recently taken to demanding "meat with bones" at which he gnaws like a neanderthal! As a recent ex-veggie (pregnancy brought on cravings for roast chicken after 21 years in the lentil zone) I have to look away, still uncomfortable with the sinewy aspects of meat.
He chooses to fill up with protein and eats carbs in quite small amounts, except at breakfast.
I cannot imagine living any other way now.
A heartfelt P.S to all of you who posted your kind comments yesterday. I had a hypo to deal with at 10:30pm but the night went well and I gained so much strength from not feeling alone.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

My biggest supporter

Look at those eyes.

Those are caring eyes.

My best friend helps me cope with it all and we do it as equally as we can.

He is off hiking in Scotland today and away for a week.

I am alone with this but as my biggest supporter he deserves a break.

My break will come another time.

I love this man.
P.S. We had a bad night with little sleep as Frank was high and wanting me to be in his bed with him. We did everything right yesterday but he had a hypo of 2.6 and them a high at 3:30am of 19.4. What the ...?
I cried, again.
This morning all was well and good numbers arrived. Budd left for a week in Scotland and barely three hours later Frank and I are eating lunch and he looks at me and says, "Mummy, I don't want to die. Then I won't be with you."
More large, hot tears as I tried to hide my exhaustion and fears of doing this alone. How can there still be tears in there? I must be practically dessicated by now.
Any advice on how to manufacture feelings of Mama strength in times of need?
I'm thinking chick flicks and green tea (no glass of wine for a week in case I need to drive to the hospital).
Knitting too and Natalie Merchant's new album, which serendipitously (get me with the long words) arrived in the post this morning.
Other ideas much appreciated.
I know you all get it. Live it, in fact.
My thought s are with all parent of Type 1 children more than ever today.

Making the low go

By coincidence we had a scarily low low today of 2.6. Out came the apple juice. We had been with Frank all morning in the garden and he pretty much always lets us know if he's "wobbly". This is the word I seem to use when I mean low blood sugar. We talk about "hungry" and "wobbly hungry". He is only three so it kind of works. Maybe when he's a hulking great sixteen year old (please, let him become a hulking great sixteen year old!) we will need to find new vocabulary.
I don't have a picture of a juice box but figure my target audience, more than any other item in their cupboards, will know a juice box. Juice boxes are just the Clark Kent of my pantry. Unassuming in their beauty but there for you when you need them. I tend to buy mostly apple juice so here is a photo of a pretty apple with a heart in it.
When we need to deal with medium lows we use these baby weaning purees from Ella's Kitchen. They have 12g carbs and Frank did have them when he was weaning. We now call them squeezies and they are quite the treat (amazing how a bit of careful PR can do wonders). They contain fruit and vegetable puree mixed so I figure he's getting some squash and spinach or whatever at the same time.

Then we sometimes follow up a low with an oatcake with nut butter or a small piece of toast or a biscuit, such as this one fashioned to look like Graham Coxon (local boy done good, click on his name there to see how yummy he is. A less seedy-looking Jarvis Cocker!).

Frank comes round fairly quickly and tends to need a hug. We try to never show panic or freak out in front of him. He needs to be under the impression that we know what we are doing.
(In case anyone was wondering, I have just learnt how to do links properly! Woo hoo! Brace yourselves for more coming up and if you need a smile and like Star Wars watch this one!)

Monday 10 May 2010

A Day in the Life

Today is my first post for Diabetes Blog Week, the brain child of Karen at Bitter Sweet.
I am grateful for the focus as hubby goes away on Wednesday for a week hiking in Scotland. Normally he goes for two and a half weeks but with the new regime and Frank's young age it felt better this year to make it a shorter trip.
So, a typical day for us:
Somewhere between midnight and 6am I rise to go to the bathroom. This visit is guaranteed by my drinking a whole pot of green tea every evening because a) it's probably good for me and b) I want to check my baby is breathing.
I change his nappy, stroke his hair, allow myself to breathe and go back to bed.
6am-6:30am Frank calls "Mummy!" at the top of his voice as he wakes and I bury my head under the duvet for a few more seconds. He pads in ,bringing toys that we have to include in our game of his devising.
We all cuddle and tell each other we love each other.
Sounds schmaltzy but we do.
Life is precious and our link to it seems tenuous with the Type 1 fairy loitering around.
7:30am We all get showered, dressed and make our way downstairs. A BG test and then breakfast which is followed by CBeebies (children's BBC) as we inject the Novarapid and the Lantus. We find that having the TV on for a few minutes helps keep him still as we inject. If we are both at home we have developed a kind of pincer movement where we inject a buttock each! Synchronised insulin injections! Otherwise I just talk loudly about what's going on on Bob the Builder or whatever and he is young enough to be distracted.
The rest of our days vary according to who is home or at least with Frank. I gave up teaching at Christmas and Andrew works part time so we are able to share to diabetic load, so to speak, equally. Some days Frank is at pre-school and so I go and test his glucose and give him his injection there.
In between meals there are snacks of around 15g carbs.
At dinner time we eat early, between 5 and 5:30pm. Frank is tested and injected after he has eaten as he is so young we never know how much he might eat at any given meal. To give an idea of how much this varies, for breakfast he eats like the proverbial king with cereal, milk, toast, fruit and sometimes yoghurt too and needs what feels like an HUGE bolus. Also, his growth hormones mean that his ratio for morning insulin is higher than later in the day.
In the evening he might need a third of the insulin of his breakfast bolus.
He has a snack at bedtime and I check his glucose at around ten most evenings. Some evenings I am so convinced I got it right that I let his fingers rest. Most evenings I need the proof and reassurance and so I test.
My gut tells me what to do.
Our fab diabetes specialist nurse and I disagree on the nature of this condition.
I feel it is an art getting it right and she feels it is a science.
It would be a science if at any given point we were in the presence of all the relevant facts.
That seems impossible as the body is such a delicate and finely-tuned entity.

Saturday 8 May 2010

London calling

Guess where I went today?

Child-free and with one of my best friends in the world.
Just an hour from home by train.
London baby!
I love this city.
It rocks.

Thursday 6 May 2010

It's a complicated boogie

How do any of us get this in any way right?

Frank's regime involves four injections of insulin and four blood glucose tests every day.
His little finger tips are a bit calloused as he will only let me use four of his ten available fingers (and I confess here to liking it when I say, "Give me a finger" and he points his middle finger at me in rude salute to Diabetes and I think "Yup, that's what I think about Type 1 too!").
His peachy bottom (as seen above) looks like a pin cushion.
And yet, all this is GREAT if he is alive and thriving.
All the sleepless times, all the tears and stress and grey hairs and dark moments are FANTASTIC if we can get it right and keep him healthy.
This past week we have seen Frank's sugar levels in the teens, consistently, and only yesterday did we see really good numbers.
Budd and I had talked and talked about ratios and carbs and have gone back to measuring and weighing much more carefully.
Ratios have been altered and his long-acting insulin upped a bit.
And then, after a positive day of excellent numbers, I went upstairs at 10pm to test Frank.
To my horror I saw 26.2 !!!!
What the ...?
We talked some more, we filled his drinking cups, changed his nappy, grew a few more grey hairs, swore a bit and then in conclusion decided that we shouldn't intervene in case we made it worse.
I fell asleep thinking of my boy's body being ravaged by evil blood glucose and him feeling terrible when he woke up. (Bizarrely I dreamt I had a beard! Analyse that for me someone. Would a full beard help me in some way?! What is going on in my brain??).
And then Frank lies in late this morning.
I wake naturally at 7am and am immediately convinced he has died.
I tiptoe into his room.
He breathes!
He is alive!
OK, now don't wake up I want to go back to bed!
He wakes, he looks and feels fine he says. He gets into bed with me and we cuddle. We play at being badgers in the forest by hiding under the duvet and popping our badgery noses out.
Then we get up and Budd tests him: 5.2.
Go figure.
So I return to my original question:
How do any of us get this in any way right?
We are firing at a constantly moving target and are dealing with the human body in all its subtle and intricate details.
It's a complicated boogie indeed.
(Perhaps the beard is a Yoda beard of Wisdom? Any other thoughts?)