Always Learning

It is crazy to think that over 6 months have gone by since Nora’s T1D diagnosis – some days it feels like we have been her pancreas for years while other days we feel like we are just taking the first steps of this lifelong journey. Here are a few things we have learned along the way and feel compelled to share with the world:
  • Managing T1D for a child that cannot talk is like trying to hit a moving target while blindfolded. Some days we got it (YES!) and other days we are WAY off.
  • If she is having a temper tantrum we check her blood sugars. Big swings in blood sugars can lead to BIG feelings.
  • Just because her blood sugars are low doesn’t mean she is going to sit still or stop playing – find a phone or iPad STAT.
  • You can NEVER overpack snacks – they will always get eaten. Anyone with young kids can understand this one, now multiply it by 10.
  • Technology is a blessing, until it’s not. It helps you sleep better some nights and keeps you up other nights. It gives you comfort, but you’ll be on your phone more often then not checking her numbers and texting her care givers.
  • Always pack extra supplies, and then pack an extra set. Kids are accident prone.
  • Just because you dosed her insulin right at lunch one day, doesn’t mean it will be right the next for the exact same lunch. We have hormones to thank for that!
  • You will become a nighttime ninja by sneaking into her room to check her blood or give her insulin at all hours of the night.
  • Your heart will break with every high, every low, every site change, every CGM change, and every finger prick, but it will grow back stronger after each break.
  • She will grow up to be a patient, determined, grateful, flexible, kind, supportive, healthy, problem solver. I know this because I have lived with and managed my own T1D for over 20 years.

Just A Picture…?

I just spent the last 30 minutes going through my pictures trying to find one that not only fit well on my website header, but was also representative of my Blog name – Type 1 of 3.  I think I uploaded almost 10 pictures – mostly of my three girls, but a couple had me in them and there was one with just my youngest, Nora, and I.  I tried all of them, but none fit well – both literally and figuratively.  After going through this process, I finally settled on the exact same photo I had started with, which by the way, is so typical me.  When I’m on the lookout for something specific, I find what I want but then continue looking in the very rare circumstance there is something I could want even more.  Its called researching all my options, but back to my website…

My header picture is the exact same as it was before renaming my website from My (Extra) Ordinary Life to Type 1 of 3.  Why is it the same picture?  A picture of an ocean and some palm trees doesn’t represent my girls or Type 1 Diabetes.  An even more pressing question – who cares?!  Well friends, I care and this picture has a deeper meaning then just it’s face-value beauty 🙂

This picture was taken in Los Cabos by yours truly or maybe Ryan – I can’t remember and it’s really not that important who took it. What is important is that it is a reminder of a time when life was a lot more simple than it is today. This picture was taken on our first vacation away from the girls since our youngest, Nora, had been born. It turned out that it was also our last vacation before Nora was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Our lives completely changed after her diagnosis. The first few months were HARD and I grieved for the life that once was. Now, I believe in my heart that Nora’s diagnosis was a gift, albeit a crappy one at times. While, I am no longer grieving for the life we once had, I do miss it at times. Which is why this picture is the perfect one for my blog header – it reminds me to find the beauty in what once was, while moving forward with what is right in front of me.

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.

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.