Thursday 30 June 2011

The Power of Yes ~ You Can Do This

If you are new to this lark of being a parent to a child with Type 1 Diabetes I have some things I'd like to say:

  • Welcome. Come in and sit down. Have this cup of tea (and yes, we do drink it like this in England, all day!).

  • OK. A door has closed, actually it has slammed in your face, probably bashing your nose as it did so. Children do not get diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes gently, over a long period. It's a sudden diagnosis (with a slow mo "Oh, of course, that's what it was " thing playing out in the parents' heads) and life will NEVER be the same. NEVER. That road you thought you were rolling down is gone. But that's OK because, when it comes to it, insulin exists and your child is about to have a fabulous life.

  • Have a good cry. Shout, sob, let the snot run down your chin. Then pick yourself up and get on. Your child still has Type 1 Diabetes. Damn. Repeat this as necessary. Two and a half years in I do it once or twice every four months or so. I have stopped wondering when I'll get used to it. I already am. It just still knocks the wind out of me on occasion. I still grieve. I am still raw to a great extent. I allow it to and then return to kicking it into shape.

  • Take each day as it comes, at first. Planning for parties and trips and flu season can come, and will come, as and when you need it to. If your child has a fever, read up on fevers. If you have a trip planned, buy juice and snacks and read up on travelling with the D-sprite coming along too.

  • Get on line and CONNECT with others. Yes, you are shocked and yes, you are tired but there is such comfort in being in the company of others who are as wrecked as you. They get it, fully.

  • Say yes to life; to experiences. A regular routine is so good for the management of Type 1 Diabetes BUT doing other exciting stuff feeds the soul and is imperative. Choose wisely the first party or sleepover or trip and plan well. It might still be crazy but you'll learn and you'll feel great for looking it in the eye.

You Can Do This because many others do it too.

And they are not superhuman.

Just parents and carers.

You are not alone.


You can do this also because you have to.

And with that thought comes a certain freedom.

It's non-negotiable.

Get that kettle on and do it with pride and soul and attitude and the knowledge that you are among friends.

P.S. Always skip and eat your carrots.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

My little extra safety net

I have a lovely, creative friend (Hey, Tanya!) who is a jewellery designer.
We met when she started the Knit & Natter Group that I have been going to for two years now.
Generally, she works in silver and gold and I love her work.
When she quietly told the small group of us at the knitting group that she had an idea for a range of children's jewellery we were all really pleased for her and, I have to say, I was particularly excited as I thought Frank would really understand why I'd like him to wear one and would feel OK about it.
The bracelet, and there are necklaces too, comes in a range of colours and we chose the sea colours for Frank as he is so into his sea creatures at the moment.
The beads are imprinted with my mobile phone number. If Frank and I are separated anywhere public he knows to tell people that my number is on his bracelet so that I can be contacted.
It has become increasingly clear to me that a medical bracelet is great but Frank has tended not to want to wear one. I would like him to and he will soon I am sure but this one makes sure too that I am contacted for information.
This reassures me as I remain unconvinced that every medical person knows how to deal with Type 1 Diabetes.

My photos don't do justice to Tanya's great work but if you fancy an extra little safety net then I would definitely recommend these.
Frank's one stood up well to beach time and showers and he has taken to reminding me of times we go out to new or big places that he might need his bracelet.
Tanya's website can be found here :
And I get no discount for this!
I just love the product and drool over some of her other stuff too ... but that's for another post.

A Little Trip

Southwold Pier.
Walberswick car park and the beautiful wooden buildings, with Southwold on the horizon.
The white camper van is ours!
Throwing rocks into the sea. Loving wearing his new emergency bracelet, as it is "sea colours, Mummy".
Chocolate ice-cream and full concentration.
The sign outside the Sailors' Reading Room in Southwold (I love a good, and well-placed apostrophe!).
Frank and I are just back from a night away in the van at a lovely campsite in Dunwich up on the Suffolk coast near Minsmere nature reserve.
We drove up on Monday morning, sorted out our pitch and then headed into Southwold for the day.
It was hot and thus busy and, as always, so beautiful.
Southwold is one of my favourite places and as I am a Suffolk girl I have a soft spot for any beautiful place in my county.
We spent time having lunch in a cafe and then strolled along the prom and then had great fun on the pier enjoying the amusements and the view.
After all that we played on the beach for a while but the sun was so very hot we had to beat a retreat and seek out some shade.
On the way back to the campsite we stopped off at Walberswick for ice cream and then spent the evening on the beach throwing stones into the sea and searching for stones with holes in them.
The extreme heat saw us finding it difficult to get to sleep but that was fine as we were together and happy in each other's company.
Each time I go away alone with Frank and the D I gain a little more confidence. As long as I have all the necessary kit and snacks and juice I feel OK and know I can deal with most eventualities.
Andrew returns today after eight days abroad.
I have done this and done it well these past eight days.
I am also ready for some sleep!

Friday 24 June 2011

{ this moment }

A singe photo ~ capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, exraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

~ inspired by Amanda at soulemama

Ollie, Frank and Lizzie play on the Komodo Dragon.

Wednesday 22 June 2011


having put to sleep

the child there's the laundry now

and the summer moon

Issa, Japan

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice to you all.
The longest day has been a stay-at-home one for us and Frank and I spent some time making a special meal and setting a special table.
I made beef cooked in beer with spicy dumplings, followed by berries and cream.
It was yummy (aside from the fact that Frank wouldn't eat it as the potatoes were the wrong size!!).
Frank decorated the solstice table.
He started small with small tea glasses of flowers from the garden.
And then the muse struck and he went to town with napkins, sea creatures and dinosaurs, carefully placing the meat eaters away from his place so he could eat his meat and they wouldn't steal it!
I couldn't not post pictures of his table.
It was adorable.

Sunday 19 June 2011

this week

This week
  • I am admiring the third Milo vest I have completed, this one is for baby Ruben's first birthday. He is one in October and I can't quite grasp that I have this ready in June! Andrew's Christmas jumper is still languishing in the knitting basket. He might get it for his birthday in August. Or next Christmas ...
(this is an owl cable, can you see why?)

  • I am working hard to get on top of the spread of toys and laundry around the house, hoping to get things cleared enough to think straight when Andrew goes away for eight days very soon.
  • I am loving the Frank's-eye-view I get whenever he borrows my camera and pads around the house capturing his world.
in our bathroom, which is the Sea Room, part of Frank's "My Museum" that takes up the whole house (complete with whale sharks and "sea dinosaurs")

  • I am pleased to have found time to watch "The King's Speech" and loved it. The only strange moment that had Andrew and I laughing out loud was seeing Tim Spall being Winston Churchill. I am a big Tim Spall fan and his face was almost too well known to be Churchill. I felt that by then I had already accepted far too many well known faces as other people to take anymore. Mr Darcy is Bertie, Duke of York? Bellatrix Lestrange is the Duchess of York? Elizabeth Bennett is now married to Jeffrey Rush, the ghost pirate? And now Peter Pettigrew is Winston Churchill! My brain was melting with all the cross-referencing!
  • I am finding joy at rediscovering an old habit; that of knitting whilst watching flickr slide shows of my favourite creative bloggers or photographers whose work inspires/relaxes me.
  • I am loving the full-on rain we have had. Our crops and gardens SO need this. Farmers around the country, I am sure, are breathing sighs of relief.
  • I am battling BG numbers in their teens and a boy who scarcely eats a whole meal but wants to graze. Grazing is good but hard on the D-parent sometimes,
  • I am still shocked at visiting my parents and going with them to their local supermarket to witness my nearly 80-year old mother take a small and very sharp serrated knife out of her handbag. She then proceeded to chop the stalks off the broccoli she was intending to buy. My gasp of horror led only to her explaining what she was doing and saying that as she didn't eat the stalk she didn't want to pay for it! I now await the knock on the door as the police arrive to tell me she has been taken into custody for WALKING AROUND WITH A WEAPON IN HER OLD LADY HANDBAG.
  • I am really pleased with myself for chatting to the manager of Starbucks in town and securing the Community wall for a little exhibition of photos I want to put up called "The Face of Diabetes". The idea is to counteract the ongoing struggle we seem to have to make people recognise that Type 1 diabetes is not the same as Type 2. That wall is mine in November! Just have to get myself organised, it could creep up on me. Thanks to Jen for motivating me to do this. I'd had the idea for a while but just hadn't done anything about it. Then the day after I did this we had a new TV ad here in the UK about going to local pharmacies to get yourself tested for Diabetes. Not Type 2 Diabetes. Just Diabetes. Well, the Type 1 D-parents and D-adults swung into enraged action and the ad was altered with a message along the bottom of the screen saying something along the lines of "Type 2 diabetes only. Not for you if you are under 16 or have already been diagnosed with diabetes". The D-Community was absolutely right to swing into this action not just because of the lazy labelling and consequent emotional pain and possible medical confusion caused but also to raise awareness of diabetes and its complications there has been a sculpture of LIMBS in Trafalgar Square as a shock tactic. What four year old Type 1 diabetic doesn't need to see a pile of limbs as a warm-hearted message about his condition, eh? (That was a sarcastic, rhetorical question by the way!)
  • I am mostly wearing cardigans and my clogs. And channelling Jesse from The Fast Show. (Just look for The Fast Show on You Tube for it. It's all good! I loved this show.)
Happy Weekend to you all!

Friday 17 June 2011

{this moment}

A single photo ~ capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.
~ inspired by Amanda at soulemama

Scared of dogs no more.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats

Thank you to everyone that took time to respond to my call for help. It really, really helped to hear other stories and some great ideas too. You are all fab!

In an attempt to get the Boy Wonder to consume a variety of grains ... oh, who am I kidding ... in an attempt to get Frank to eat ANY GRAIN OTHER THAN WHITE WHEAT, I stealthily add various things to recipes he might eat.
To his white bread I add whole wheat or rye or rice flour. He used to eat rice but won't now. He will allow pasta on his plate but tends not to eat it!! At someone else's house he will devour a whole bowl of Bolognese and pasta but, alas, not at home.
He is suspicious that I am sneaking contraband into his food.
He has a point ...
I have taken to adding ground linseeds or ground almonds to his porridge, making it also with half oat milk and half cow's milk. I sneak squash and sweet potatoes into Bolognese sauce. He will eat raw carrots and celery and peas from the pod and that's it for veg.
I am sounding so over-controlling here but I am concerned as he won't eat other veggies or rice and with his Type 1 Diabetes I am aware that any days of high BG will result in an extra loss of nutrients.
I think we do OK, all in all.
I am not panicked about this but maintain an awareness of what foods are building his body. He eats ice cream and crisps, I am no purist and am very clear on the idea of never forbidding any foods. Children with this condition need no extra food issues in the mix, ideally.
I am reading "The Healthiest Kid in the Neighbourhood" by William Sears at the moment. Lots of the information in it isn't new to me as I have always been interested in nutrition (thankfully, as I had a head start on getting a grip on the whole carb counting thang) but it is very informative about snacking and phases kids go through. I have also found it really useful for giving me ammunition when shopping with Frank. Saying things like "We don't buy that in our family" has been working wonders. However, I think of people like Meri, with older kids, and know I will only be able to use this for a short while. I'll be shopping on line soon!!
One snack that I have rustled up this week has met with a lukewarm response but hasn't been rejected outright are the Peanut Butter treats above. They are really tasty (Andrew and I love them!) and from this book, which has me inspired to go veggie again very soon.
I bought my ingredients in the Wholefood Store in Manningtree (the store I long to be locked in overnight!) and used puffed quinoa instead of rice. They are gluten free and I like to keep them in the fridge to keep them more solid and chewy.

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats
3/4 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter (I only had salted so I omitted the extra salt)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 scant teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons agar flakes
4 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal

Combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, salt and agar flakes in a large sauce pan over a low heat and stir constantly until smooth, hot, melted and bubbling just a bit. Turn off the heat and add the cereal. Stir until well-coated. Transfer to an 8 by 8-inch baking dish and press into place. Refrigerate until completely coo, then cut into small rectangles with a sharp knife.
Makes around 20 treats.
In more specifically D-related news we had our first failed site two nights ago and were up until 3am testing and bolusing every hour until we decided to grasp the nettle and change that bastard. Frank moaned a bit but then chatted to us and we all go on with it. the cannula was all bent sideways. His pre-breakfast BG was 5.7, such a relief after 23.8 and similar all night.
In retrospect as I primed the set something felt different in the spring-action thingy, but instead of not using it, I kind of imagined it would all be OK even though it felt a bit wrong.
Next time I won't do that. And from what I read there will be a next time.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

River Cottage Canteen

(Andrew's bitter at the River Cottage Canteen)

After leaving Devon last week we headed East.
En route to my sister's place in Dorset we stopped off at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster.
We are big Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fans in this house and so admire him for all he has done to raise awareness of local food issues and animal welfare.
At the canteen Frank was able to have an organic beefburger and chips (he never eats the bun). The salad leaves on the side were regarded with horror and removed by me.
He regards them rather like I would a dead rat on my plate!
(The boy wonder and his meal)
(The other boy wonder eats his faggots)

And Andrew chose Faggots.
I kid you not : pig's heart, liver, and fatty belly meat wrapped with caul (membrane from the pig's abdomen) No idea what it's called in the USA.
Am pretty sure it's not the same thing ... ahem.

I had the beef burger too. I am not at all fond of red meat but felt that here, in this cafe, of all places, it would have come from a happy cow.
I was veggie for22 years and still struggle a bit with the dead animal aspects of meat, even though I am in favour of it being eaten and farmed sustainably.
This day was a happy food day.
Other days are not so great.
I love to cook and have had such a great time introducing my boy to a whole variety of foods and tastes.
He began with rice porridge and mango and banana.
He ate everything I gave him, except avocado.
My boy that eats absolutely almost anything has now become the same child that (I swear he said this) told me three nights ago, on being presented with his bedtime snack of dried apricots, almonds and slices of apple: "This apple isn't crunchy enough, Mummy".
My mouth dropped open and I felt bewildered, again.
I am struggling to get a variety of food into him.
He is eating things one day and refusing them the next, often for the most spurious reasons.
He will eat meat and potatoes.
White bread and peanut butter (although I an now sneaking almond butter into him by stealth as I hide it under the peanut butter! Mwahaha!).
Carrots and peas from the pod.
He would live on bacon or
salami given the chance.

Have any of you been through anything similar to this?
Is it a phase?
Do you have any recommendations?
What more can I do?

P.S. I honestly don't let Frank know I have these concerns. He knows I want hm to eat lots of different foods that help him grow strong, but that's the extent if it.

Friday 10 June 2011

{this moment}

A single photo - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.
~ inspired by Amanda at soulemama ~
Allowed to stay up late & wave a flag for the Cycle Tour of Britain as they did a time trial in the centre of Colchester.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Scenes from Devon

We spent a windswept and cold week in beautiful Devon.
No trench foot but oh, so much wind. And, as we were camped on a west-facing hill, looking out to sea, from whence a MAD level of wind was howling, it was a challenging week.
My gorgeous tent is lovely and looks great but is not much use in such circumstances, there being no inner tent. The wind whipped the sides up as much as it could and others on the camp site lost tent pegs forever, returning to camp at the end of the day to find their tents in heaps and looking wildly around for sheep with Frankenstein's monster-type tent pegs through their necks.
After two nights we resorted to taking turns to sleep in the van with Frank and oh, the joy of just turning a light on to test BG during the night, rather than holding that torch in your mouth.
I took a few photos but spent also a lot of time with my hands in my pockets feeling grumpy. Andrew assures me I am rarely grumpy so I imagine ten years of teaching teenagers has made me proficient in hiding my true emotions!
A few piccies for you all so those of you across the pond can feel all worldly and knowledgeable about the UK ...
Setting up on day one.
We left at 8am and arrived around half four in the afternoon. Strolling up to the office to check in Frank flopped to the floor with his lowest hypo yet : 2.0.
Great. A week on a hillside and we begin by checking in and dealing with a major hypo simultaneously.
And look! Blue sky. Last we saw of that for a while.

On our way down the hill to Hope Cove.
That, my unworldly American friends, is a Devon ROAD. Yup. It's a road. Two way. All that green hides a wall made of flinty stuff (that's the technical term by the way, ahem) so if you misjudge it in your car, or say camper van, you lose bodywork. There are passing places but that then involves driving backwards uphill or downhill and not hitting the aforementioned flinty-stuff.
Keeps you on your toes, believe me.
I would so love to be a passenger in a car with an American driving down this road! Dan and Winnie, I volunteer you guys. Are you up for it? Detroit is easy, you need a challenge!

I loved this sign, all bent at the edge showing how someone hit it on the way past! And the wild flowers all the way down the lane were amazing.
The first few houses as you enter Hope Cove.
Hope Cove and a windswept boy. Both beautiful.


And then there were days of wind and rain and more grumpy thoughts from me.
On what was to be the penultimate might of camping it was Andrew's turn in the van with the boy.
I tidied up the tent. Made a comfy bed. Got my knitting ready. Got my book out. Lit the gas lamp without losing any eyebrows and settled down for some space.
But, that bloody wind. It picked up and buffeted that poor tent to the point that I got smacked in the head by the canvas so many times that by half midnight I lit the lamp again and read. Until three thirty and I was too tired to read anymore. After that I slept fitfully, off and on, dreaming of wild panthers (The Beast of Bodmin Moor had come to Devon and was in my tent!).

I joined the boys in the van. They were sleeping well and still happily in dreamland. I made myself a cup of tea and sat drinking it, feeling mutinous and very sorry for myself. Then there appeared a little way off but clear enough for me to see a group of three crows. Two of whom proceeded to peck the other to death.
Great. Lovely sight.
I have read enough Shakespeare to take this as a very clear and portentous sign to get the hell out!
And so, we packed up and went to a B&B for the night and oh, the joy of no wind. Electricity! TV! A bed without bugs! The wonder of it all. I felt like The Man Who Fell To Earth (didn't pee myself though, you'll be glad to know!).

And I smiled to be packing up and loved my husband more than ever for being adaptable.
Back very soon with a call for help with my used-to-eat-anything-boy now being a mono-diet-boy. I am floundering with feeding him.
Little monkey.