Do you Tattoo?

I am not at all spontaneous – I like my routines and I like things to be VERY predictable. I think this stems from managing my T1D for so many years. There are days where my T1D can be completely out of control for no rhyme or reason and it’s infuriating…but I’ll save that whole chestnut for a different post. I had been wanting to get a tattoo for years, but was never brave enough to pull the trigger. It’s just so…permanent…imagine that!

A couple of years ago, I was feeling pretty awesome about life. I had just finished coaching a team of amazing women through an 8 week health and fitness challenge. I was thrilled with the success of each woman and with my success both as a coach and a participant in the challenge. One Saturday night, Ryan was on the coach with a friend drinking whiskey and I was texting a good friend of mine while enjoying a glass of wine. I must have been feeling high on life because out of the blue, I asked her to go with me to get a tattoo (her BIL happens to own a studio). Much to my surprise, she responded with an enthusiastic YES! I was terrified and excited all at once – getting a spontaneous tattoo was not something in my wheelhouse. But I stepped out of my comfort zone and told Ryan where I was going. He straight up looked at me and asked “Are you drunk!?” I sure wasn’t, and it took all the courage to get into my car and drive to meet my friend. My head was spinning and there were butterflies in my stomach. At one point, I actually hoped my friend would bail on me since I was looking for any opportunity to back out. About an hour and a half after walking into the tattoo studio, I walked into my house to show Ryan my new ink. He still thinks I’m crazy…and I’m still in love with my tattoo, even though it needs a touch-up.

I’m a runner, so the initial meaning of my tattoo is obvious, but it’s meaning goes deeper. My tattoo is a daily reminder that I am in control of me – how I feel, what I do, how I react. I am the person running the path and I get to make the choices that allow me to grow and make the most of each day. I am also in control of my T1D. Of course, some days are better than others but T1D doesn’t get to dictate what I can and can’t do (even though it can sometimes dictate when). However, bad days happen and while T1D may be steering me off my path, I get to choose how to react and what I can learn from that direction change. I am in control, I am running this body of mine and nothing can stop me.

Do you have a tattoo? What’s its meaning?

My Journey

This post was recently shared on MyID’s T1D blog, but it is important to me to make sure it has a home on my blog as well. This is my journey…

Everyone has moments in life that rock them to the core, ones that change their thinking or put them on a whole new path. For some, those moments are joyous things like marriage or the birth of a child. For others, those moments might be shrouded in challenge like the loss of something or someone important. I think those challenging moments are essential to living because you never know what you are capable of without them. Like many people, I have had numerous positive and challenging moments that have stopped me in my tracks, but my daughters Type 1 Diabete diagnosis brought me to my knees.

I have been actively managing my own T1D since my diagnosis over 26 years ago. The management of my T1D has just been a daily thing to do like getting dressed or making my bed. I didn’t go out of my way to share the literal ups and downs of living with T1D. My mentality was “it just is what it is” but I also thought the act of sharing would result in people sympathizing or pitying me for something that was my reality. I didn’t want people to feel bad for me, I wanted them to see past my T1D and see me. Of course, if someone asked me about giving myself an insulin shot or taking my blood sugar levels, I would talk with them about what I was doing and why but for the most part I keep my invisible disease invisible.

This all changed when my daughter was diagnosed with T1D in December of 2018 at the age of 18 months. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t continue to be quiet about life with T1D. I realized that sharing is a critical part of the journey with this autoimmune disease – the more I share, the more people know, and the more they know, the more they understand what’s its like to live with T1D. Without this basic understanding, there is nothing – no support, no love, no fight for a cure.

When I tell people about Nora’s diagnosis, generally the first response is “she’s so lucky to have you”. I give a smile and a nod but think to myself “I’m lucky to have her”. Her moment has changed me – the way I think about this disease, the way I interact with it, the way I talk about it. Now, I’m shouting from the rooftops that we have T1D and that we will continue to rise up and do our part to educate and fight for a cure.

An Ordinary Spring Break

I might be in the minority when I say that I am sad Spring Break is over. We didn’t do anything extraordinary or travel someplace exciting, but each day of break the girls and I something fun. We tried a new restaurant with friends on Monday, visited the Crayola Experience on Tuesday, played at the mall playplace on Wednesday, played at the park on Thursday, and the girls went to the zoo with my parents on Friday. I would even go so far as to say that most of those things are pretty everyday for us, depending on the week. So why am I sad that break is over?

Honestly, I miss Kaelyn. She went back to Kindergarten today and is hopefully having all the fun telling her friends about her spring break adventures. I hope as she is swapping stories with her friends, her eyes twinkle and her face lights up the same way it did when we visited the Crayola Experience for the first time, or when I surprised the girls with lunch at Chick-fil-a. I hope as she is playing on the playground during school today, she is remembering how much fun she and another friend had swinging on the tire swing at the park last week. I hope the joy she experienced during her ordinary adventures is displayed loud and proud.

As a parent, it’s hard to not always have the opportunity to do the super fun things. Finances, time, and to do lists are very real roadblocks. Is there a part of me that wishes we could have traveled to a new place? Sure, but I also think it’s healthy for a child to be bored or to participate in normal day to day activities like running errands or meal planning. It teaches them the use their imagination, to be an active participant in their life, and to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Am I disappointed in our spring break adventures- absolutely not! It was ah-mazing to not have to wake anyone up to do multiple school drop offs and pickups or to not have to remind my girls again and again to get ready for school and sometimes in a loud voice.

So today, while I am going through my ordinary day, I will miss the simplicity and joy of spring break. I will however, relish in the opportunity to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Wanted: Accountability!

I’m sitting here waiting for my oil change to be done and thinking about how much life has evolved for me over the last few months. Last year, my days were filled with diapers, snacks, errands, and all the adulting. Now they are filled with all of that plus carb counting, needles, and more technology than I ever expected. Nora’s T1D diagnosis last December lit a fire in my belly – a fire I needed more than ever. Now don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE for her to lead a life without T1D. I would love to lead a life without T1D too! It’s not something either of us had a say in, but we move forward and make the most of our circumstances while trying to have a little fun along the way.

I think this is why I have become more active on social media and sharing our T1D stories. I am having fun educating and helping people understand the literal ups and downs with this chronic disease. I’ve been following others on their journey and I can totally relate to the stories they share. I hope that the stories I post are ones others can relate to or can learn from, but for me sharing our story on social media helps keep me accountable.

If you are a parent you understand that you need to fill your cup before giving to others. I STRUGGLE with this on the daily! Not just with self-care, but, before Nora’s diagnosis, the daily management of my T1D. I would eat when I could, forget to take my lunch time bolus, or just generally be lazy with the day to day management of my T1D. But then Nora was diagnosed and she forced me to be better…be better for her management AND mine. I need to ensure I am taking the best care of myself so that I can continue to help her through her T1D journey.

So thank you social media for helping to keep me accountable and for bringing us a little closer to those who have similar experiences.

Grateful, but disappointed…

Let me start this post by saying that I am grateful we have access to reasonably decent health insurance. Without it, life as a person both living with T1D and parenting a child with T1D, would be monumentally different. However, my gratitude only goes so far, especially when health insurance companies dictate what T1D supplies or tools are and are not covered.
When Nora was first diagnosed and in the hospital, she took Humalog (short acting) insulin and Levemir (long acting) insulin. These were great options for her because she needed to be able to take her insulin in half units and these brands provided that option with minimal issues. When we were discharged from the hospital, we left with 15 or so prescriptions and it was overwhelming to get them filled, even for this mama who has had T1D for over 25 years. When I went to pick up her prescriptions, the pharmacist told me that my insurance wouldn’t cover Humalog and Levemir. What the…?! Why not? Because they are not my insurance company’s preferred brand of insulin. I contacted Nora’s Endo and they worked through the insurance and prescription process to get Nora all set with her insulin. The insulin that she uses now is just as effective as the insulin she used in the hospital, but because of the brand switch we have had to make accommodations to ensure she can still inject in half units.
On February 1st, UnitedHealthcare, one of the nations leading insurers, put in place a policy that says they will no longer cover all brands of insulin pumps for persons with T1D ages 7 and up. Instead, UnitedHealthcare has selected a preferred insulin pump brand. Patients are able to obtain non-preferred insulin pumps but have to go through additional approval steps, which are generally not successful. Imagine getting your groceries from a near by grocery store for years and then all of the sudden having to shop at a grocery store thirty minutes away because your original store no longer accepts your payment. That is what this new policy is doing to families who live with T1D, except we are not talking about groceries, we are talking about human lives and the quality in which they are lived.
This new policy doesn’t impact Nora or me directly, but we have had more than one experience dealing with an insurance company’s preferred brand and we most certainly will have similar experiences in the not so distant future. The fact that an insurance company can dictate what supplies and tools a person with T1D can use to manage their disease is infuriating and unethical.
If you would like to join me in voicing opposition to UnitedHealthcare’s new policy, please Take Action. A business has no business in deciding what is best for a persons management of T1D. T1D is not, and never will be, a one size fits all disease.

Knowledge or Blissful Ignorance?

For those readers that are new to Type 1 Diabetes, it is a disease where the body attacks itself and can no longer make its own insulin. Insulin is a necessary hormone whose main job is to convert food into usable energy. People with T1D rely on getting this hormone in their body from an outside source through an injection or shot. It’s a fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) disease that requires the daily micro-management of food, exercise, and insulin. Even more fascinating is that there is a blood test that screens for T1D. This test looks at a persons blood for the autoantibodies that are associated with T1D. Positive results for these autoantibodies indicate that said person is at a high risk for developing T1D.

I first learned about this screening when Nora was diagnosed last month. Before then, I had no idea it existed. While in the hospital, her endocrinologist and diabetes educator asked me if we would like to have our other two daughters tested. “Thank you, but no thank you” was my immediate response.

Later that night when Nora had finally fallen asleep, I put more thought into why I said no and more importantly why I said it so quickly. I mean, our family tree is scattered with T1D. Besides myself, and now Nora, I have a cousin and an uncle who both have T1D. How is it that the youngest person in our respective core families came to be persons with T1D? Well, the exact cause of T1D is unknown and generally thought to be brought on by a combination of factors including environment and genetics. So if the cause of T1D is multifaceted, what is there to gain by knowing if my big girls have these autoantibodies? First and foremost – research towards the goal of finding a cure. But for us, with Nora’s diagnosis still being so very raw, there would be a lot of unnecessary worrying and second guessing of everything.

Would you want to know if you kiddo was at high risk of developing a disease knowing there was nothing you could do to stop it? Or would you rather soak in the moments of blissful ignorance? There’s no right or wrong answer, but for my family – we choose blissful ignorance…for now.

Why is Third Time a Charm?

A couple of people have reached out and asked me why I’ve decided to reboot my blog for a third time 😳. “Third times a charm”, I say with a big smile hiding the fact that I really didn’t know the answer to that question. But that’s the beauty of following your heart – sometimes it takes a while for your head to catch up.

Driving home from this mornings preschool drop off, I had been talking with one of my best girls about building my social media presence and she told me to tell my story the rest will fall into place. My story, huh? What is my story? I thought about this question during my entire short (and cold!) run. As I was cooling off, my head finally caught up to my heart.

When Nora was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on December 17th, 2018 I sat in the hospital room that first night unable to sleep. My head was spinning, my heart was grieving. At 3:00 am, I finally gave up on sleep. I texted a couple of my best friends to let them know about Nora’s diagnosis which ended up being a big step of acceptance for me. After that, I googled everything I could related to young children with Type 1 Diabetes. I was looking for someone, anyone, who could share in my current situation and in their own words tell me that everything is going to be ok. Much to my dismay, all I found was clinical and factual information related to kids and Type 1 Diabetes. I know these types of websites are exceptionally helpful for families who haven’t had any experience with Type 1 Diabetes, but I’m different – I’ve been managing my own Type 1 Diabetes for over 25 years. But even with this significant experience, I was still looking for a connection to someone who might have had the same feelings I was while sitting in a dark and lonely hospital room, someone who might have some tips or tricks in managing this disease in a person as young as Nora. I hope that I can be the person I was looking for, and never found, when I was most vulnerable.

Type 1 Diabetes is not a death sentence – I’m living proof of this, but it is still a difficult and overwhelming disease to manage no matter if you’re 36 or under 2. Here’s to building a community, sharing in experiences diabetes related or not, and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Blog Re-Boot!

They say third times a charm…I’m a firm believer of this.  This is the third time this blog has been re-booted and I couldn’t be more excited about it!  I originally created this blog as a connection to friends and family in Chicago back in 2014.  Following the birth of my second daughter in October 2014, it fell to the wayside.  I attempted to re-start it in 2017 after the birth of my third daughter, but yet again it got sidelined.  I’m seeing a trend here…🤔 To be completely transparent – I’m not pregnant and have had no other babies.  So why am I trying this whole blogging thing for a third time, you ask?!  Because it’s not in my DNA to give up on something so important.  So stay tuned…lots of fun coming on how I find the extraordinary in the ordinary when it comes to being a stay at home mom of 3 beautiful girls, a Type 1 Diabetic, and a health and fitness enthusiast.

My Anxious Beast

After having my third girl, (yes she was planned and no we were not trying for a boy), like many moms, I struggled with postpartum feeling overload.  Ah, Mother Nature – she’s a real b**** for postpartum moms.  Not only do you have to go through the physical challenge of birthing a human, but then you then have to manage through all the crazy feels while being sleep deprived.  Thanks for that Mother Nature – much appreciated.  Postpartum wasn’t terribly different from my previous two rounds, but there was one thing that got the best of me.

In an effort to crawl myself out of postpartum feeling overload, I was reading the book “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  One of the early chapters started with a quote by Lao Tzu “If you are depressed, you are living in the past.  If you are anxious, you are living in the future.  If you are at peace, you are living in the future.”  This quote spoke mountains to me.  Before reading it, I felt this feeling in the pit of my stomach but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was – kind of like the word that sits at the tip of your tongue.  This feeling took hold of me and I started to obsessively worry about what was going to happen next in my world as a SAHM and if and how I was going to be able to deal with it.  Eventually, my thoughts were consumed by this feeling and I was not a pretty person to myself or my family.  Negative thoughts about what could happen swirled around my head over and over again.  I played out different scenarios in my head – if the baby gets up at 8:30am, how am I going to be able to feed her and get the girls to school by 9:00?  If I wake up the baby at 8:00am is she going to cry for the next two hours?  I was consumed with worry and mom guilt with every action I took.  Once I read Tzu’s quote, it was like a lightbulb clicked on.  The feeling overload I was having was anxiety.  This anxious beast was taking my already worrisome personality, putting it on steroids and making it monumentally harder to get through what were already long days.  But the simple act of labeling what I was feeling allowed me to find solutions to calm the anxious beast that lived in my head.  These are some of the things that work for me and I incorporate anywhere from 2-4 of them within my daily routine:

Yoga – One of my very best friends introduced me to yoga and I am in love (she’s pretty awesome too)!  There is nothing more satisfying than sweating out every negative thought in your head while holding poses you didn’t think you could hold.

Gratitude Journal – I started this about 2 months ago and am seriously in love with it.  Each night, I write at least three things from my day that I am grateful for.  Sometimes, they are small things like drinking coffee at the perfect temperature.  Other times, they are things that are bigger than me, like Little Sister “reading” to the baby for the first time.  Either way, having this journal forces me to examine my day and look for the good in it as the last thing I do before going to bed.

Running – I never thought of myself as a runner until I became a mom.  One day, I just forced myself to go for a short run and now, I cannot picture my life without it!  It’s my escape from reality, my opportunity to see what my mind and body is capable of.  With each mile I run, I learn more about who I am and who I want to be as a person, wife, mom, daughter.

Mantra’s – Y’all these are no joke!  They can be simple or more complex depending on what you need to hear.  Write them down on post-its and hang them front and center.  One of my favorites to say in my head when I am “negotiating” with my one or both of my big girls is “You are a Mother F***ing Rockstar!”.  You’ve got to be your biggest cheerleader!

Exercise – If I’m not running or doing yoga, I am moving.  Maybe a walk outside or a quick at-home sweat session.  For me, exercise clears my head and helps me to let go of things that need to be forgotten.  Plus, as my girl Elle says, “Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.”  ‘Nuogh said.

Being Present – This one is easier said then done, but I am working really hard on putting the phone away and ignoring my to-do list for a few minutes throughout the day so I can play with my girls, give them a cuddle, or read to them.

Get Away –  Go to the bathroom, shut the door, and take 2 or 3 minutes.  Get a babysitter and go to Target BY YOURSELF.  Have your best mom friend over for coffee – let the kiddos play outside while y’all talk inside.  Send your kids to Mothers Day Out or pre-school.  Give yourself a break – trust me, it works.

With 3 kids under the age of 5, all bets are off on what can and will happen throughout the day.  As a result, some days are easier than others when it come to dealing with my anxiety, but given the right tools I can tame the beast and run my days through my heart instead of my head.