Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The D-Grinch that stole Christmas

This years Christmas was hands down the best Christmas I've had in the last couple of years. To tell you the truth, our last two years of celebrating Christmas are a complete blur. I honestly don't think my heart was in it...it was too busy breaking...I was too busy being sad, angry, scared and confused. Christmas morning brought with it the bittersweet pain of seeing the joy in my girls faces, while I hid the pain that was hiding in their mom's heart.

I was in a state of grief, angry that we didn't put candy canes on our tree because I didn't want my kids to ask for one and me having to possibly tell them "no" because their blood sugar was too high, or maybe I was just too worried about how their numbers would react to a stick-o-sugar? I was sad that instead of running downstairs to tear into their gifts, I had them both sitting on the floor poking their tiny little fingers so I could get their blood sugar readings...only to find out that they were too low and we needed to eat breakfast first. We measured out food, let them eat, calculated carbs, gave each of them a shot and then, only then could we sit down and rip open presents.

My two precious babies, living everyday with this disease that disrupted everything. My pain was deep and dark, the sadness had consumed me and because of that sadness I missed so much. I sat there with my family, a smile plastered on my face, doing my best to "pretend" I was all there...but I wasn't. My mind would constantly drift back to that time when diabetes was a word we never used. Insulin was a mystery and carbs...who cared about carbs?!

I wish I could remember the presents, the laughter, the joy...thankfully I have the home movies to remind me that these moments did actually happen! I can look back on those videos and say "Oh yeah! I do remember that, I was sitting on the couch that day and maybe, just maybe, I did enjoy some of it...I am smiling in that picture after all."

I wasn't into the decorating, the music, buying presents or mailing out cards...I was in too much pain.


Something has changed in me this year, I can feel a shift in my heart, my soul and my mind. The fog of despair is lifting and my joy has returned. This Christmas was the first Christmas since diabetes entered our lives that I have been able to feel like I can actually celebrate and enjoy the holidays again.

This year I wanted to C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E!!! I wanted to listen to Christmas music every single day, I wanted to light up our house with so many lights you could see the glow a mile away! I wanted to color pictures of trees, Santa and Frosty with my girls all day long...make snow angels, stand in line for Santa and relish in every memory that was created with my family this year...and for the first time since D came crashing into our life, I did relish every moment.

This year was magical, as corny as that may sound, I was HAPPY, diabetes is still here, but, this year diabetes didn't ruin the party...or at least I should say, I didn't let diabetes ruin the party. It took me some time and a lot of soul searching, but it was worth the wait.

Diabetes still brings me to my knees from time to time, I've spent many nights crying myself to sleep, the grief doesn't ever fully go away but with time the intensity of that pain begins to fade a little...finally allowing some room for the joy to find it's way back into our hearts.


The girls had their candy cane this year :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Breakfast, with a side of HOPE

This year we had the amazing opportunity to serve as the Ambassador Family for the 2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes. What does an Ambassador Family do??? Well, for our chapter, this means you speak at different events to tell your story and hopefully inspire the community and fellow d-families to join us in our efforts to raise money for the research needed to fund a cure for type 1 diabetes.

We spoke at four different events this year...to say that we were nervous at first would be an understatement if ever there was! The first time we stood in front of a group of strangers and spoke about our journey with type 1 diabetes and the impact it had on our family was incredibly difficult. I'm not gonna lie...I was a blubbering mess, you couldn't stop the tears from flowing if you paid me! Although the tears were flowing freely...I was able to speak with as much passion as there was pain.

It was a hugely successful moment for us and I have a post planned to tell you much more about that eventful day and the passion and drive that it later fueled in me.

We later had an opportunity to speak at a breakfast that was geared just towards our local business community and corporate sponsors. This was hands down one of the most rewarding experiences ever! I cannot fully express to you the emotions of that day, I can say that it felt like I had angels lifting me up and giving me the strength to deliver our story with as much heart, passion and courage as I have ever had.

It was bizarre, when my family took to the podium at this corporate breakfast I had NO FEAR...not an ounce of nervousness or hesitation. It felt as if a warm blanket of strength and courage had been wrapped around my shoulders as I walked towards the microphone. There we stood in front of 100 plus members of our local business community and we were able to tell them our story, yes...I cried at this event too. What can I say, I get all emotional when I revisit the days that my precious daughters were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and the many days since that have been filled with needles, finger pokes, 3 am blood sugar checks, low blood sugars and high blood sugars. Despite my tears, I was able to tell them what life with d is truly like. The good, the bad and the downright scary.

The most rewarding part of that day was after the event was over, suddenly we were surrounded by strangers who wanted to hug us, thank us and tell us how moved they were by our story. We met one woman who has had type 1 diabetes for decades now, she came up to me, wrapped her arms around me and gave me the best gift ever. She wanted to thank us for sharing our journey with them, she knew that our story would inspire some of these businesses to join JDRF and us in our efforts to find a cure, and as someone who has lived with the disease for so long she said she just felt such gratitude towards us for being able to share something that is so painful. Her tears and emotions were so real and so raw, it was an indescribable moment.

We met a few other adults who had t1, they all thanked us and truly gave us a gift...it was a gift of gratitude. It warmed this d-mama's heart to know that our story may somehow inspire others to give to and support such a worthy and important cause. Any fear, any hesitation, any doubt I had about telling our families story to 100's of strangers evaporated that day. I knew that morning, we had done something and been a part of something that was so much bigger then us...when we got into our car together after the event was over my husband and I looked at each other and just smiled.

I'm not sharing this story with you to toot my own horn :) I guess my biggest reason for sharing this is that I believe that we all have a story, it's one that can inspire hope, change and progress. I may not get that cure that I dream of as soon as I would like, but I do know that amazing things are happening in the field of diabetes research and technology and if our story (or yours) can help by inspiring others to work with us towards a cure and help speed things up...hey, I'm all for it! Sometimes it's scary to open up and share like that, but sometimes...it can be life changing and the rewards that your heart receive are incredible.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas!!!
May your day be blessed and filled with...
Here's to you, my dear friends...
Many HUGS and holiday cheer to you all!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What If???

Those darn, nasty 'what-ifs' and crazy inner dialogue...

Sometimes I let the 'what-ifs' haunt me...like last nights 'what-if'. I had put my girls to bed at a very comfortable number, Miss E was at 153 and Lil Miss C had a bg of 190...now, I know that to some 190 is too high but for Lil Miss it is an acceptable place to be and we rarely correct before bedtime unless she is above 300 because she can drop like crazy and I'll be chasing lows all night. I went about doing my things, last night that was tending to a long list of way overdue Christmas cards that needed to be addressed and stamped!

I spent a few hours crossing stuff off of my to do list and then decided I would try to go to bed at a reasonable hour...for me that's anything before 1:00am :) It was actually 11:00pm, three hours after putting the girls to bed. I started to have some of that internal dialogue that I find myself doing WAY to often...

"Should I check the girls blood sugars??? I'm sure they are fine Connie, you always check before you go to bed and MOST of the time it's good. JUST RELAX...Let them sleep!"

"Most of the time...hmmmmm...I don't like that, I wish it were all the time. Most of the time just feels so uncertain, what if tonight is one of the nights when they are not ok???"

"It's 11:00pm!!! Their numbers were great 3 hours ago, just let them sleep and go to bed."

"Yeah...I'm tired, I'll just go to bed and set my alarm for 1:00am and test then. You worry too much, Connie...GO-TO-BED!"

"OK, ok, o.k....bed it is"


So...that internal dialogue is something that I do a lot, second guessing myself is another thing I'm REAL good at! So here comes part two of my late night conversation with myself...

"Man it feels good to be in bed at a decent hour, I hope that package gets here tomorrow...I do not feel like wrapping presents on Christmas eve! Ughhh, my back hurts. I hope it doesn't keep me up all night. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way..."

-I'm boring myself to sleep with these thoughts rambling through my mind when the panic button starts to go off in my head...

"I wonder what Miss E's bg is right now??? I wonder if Lil Miss C is comfortable, sometimes when she goes to bed in the upper 100's her numbers start to spike higher. I didn't give them much of a snack...normally that's ok, 190 with carbs=serious high bg's so it's ok you gave her just a light protein snack with a smidge of carbs...what are you so panicked about??? SERIOUSLY, I was just about to fall asleep...stop thinking!"

-trying to sleep again, closing eyes, willing brain to shut off for awhile...NOT HAPPENING...ARGHH!!!

"Just get up Connie and check them so you can have some peace of mind and go to sleep!"

"OK, ok, o.k....let's check their bg's"


Miss E...blood glucose of 150...hmmmm, not so bad. Holding steady.

Lil Miss C...blood glucose of...67!!! WTH!!!???

Needless to say I was a little freaked out. I treated her low by giving her a juice box and decided to sit in her room until it was time to re-test. I sat there in the rocking chair next to her bed, sitting in the dark while she quickly fell back to sleep and I began to count the minutes until it was time to test again. While sitting in her dark, quiet room I had a lot of time for some serious internal dialogue and a terrible case of the 'what-ifs'.

"What if...I didn't test her until 1:00am??? Would she have dropped into the 30's, would she have woken up dizzy, hungry and distraught or would she have slept through it?"

"What if...I didn't test her until 3:00am??? Would she have slipped into a coma??? Could she have...I can't even say it...could my worst nightmare have become a reality???"

"What if"

"What if"

"What if"

Sometimes I think I over think things, sometimes that's a bad thing...sometimes it's a good thing. Last nights inner turmoil was a blessing in disguise, my instincts wouldn't let me sleep and I am thankful for that. For all I know she could have dropped even lower...or not...

Who knows...last night was just another rude reminder as to why we work so hard to raise money, raise awareness and work towards a cure...I just wish we had a cure, now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Ambassador Of Hope

Not long ago I sat in a room full of people who had all come together for one thing...to begin our Quest For a Cure. It was JDRF's Team Captain kick-off luncheon for the 2009 Walk to Cure Diabetes. We enjoyed a light lunch of salad and ice tea as we listened to different speakers, the branch manager got up and spoke about diabetes research and the advances in technology, the president of the board gave his speech and then a family took the stage. A husband, a wife and their young son stood tall at their podium, side by side.

They began to talk about their life with diabetes, the diagnosis, the fears, the daily challenges of type 1 diabetes and how it has impacted their lives. They were serving as the Ambassador family for the walk that year, they talked about their passion and their commitment to do all that they could to help raise money for the research needed to find a cure.

I remember sitting at our table with my husband and our daughter's, Lil Miss C had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes only months earlier and Miss E was just over a year into her life with D, as I listened to their stories and saw the pain in their eyes I was willing myself not to cry but the emotions of their words touched me on a level that was so raw and so delicate that I could not hold back the tears.

With wet cheeks and a runny nose, I couldn't hide the emotions that had taken over me. I hugged Lil Miss C who was sitting on my lap, pulling her into my chest and burying my face into her hair in the hopes that I could hide the anguish that was written all over it. In that moment I made a silent promise to both of my girls, I promised that I would do everything in my power to not only raise as much money as I could to help fund research for a cure, but I was also going to work hard to raise awareness and bring attention to our cause.

I remember thinking as I watched this family speak so courageously about their journey...that could be us someday, we could be the family standing at that microphone sharing our story and inspiring others as this family was so obviously inspiring us. It was a scary thought, on stage in front of hundreds of strangers talking about such a personal and at times painful story. Being able to open yourself up and allow people into your fear, pain and sadness. It's funny though, in being real you are also showing your hope, commitment and strength at the same time. It's a very vulnerable place to be.

I admired this family for their courage to stand in front of us with their hearts wide open, sharing their hope with us. It was a powerful day for me on such a deep and personal level. I had never heard anyone ever express out loud the very same feelings and fears that I was having everyday. They sparked in me a great surge of hope and determination. I left that luncheon with a new sense of strength and purpose.

That year I set aside any sense of hesitation or intimidation..after our walk kick-off I sent letters and e-mails to everyone I knew. After hearing how this family had shared their story with the husbands work place and how his company had become one of their biggest supporters in the walk every year, we decided we too were going to talk with my husbands work. We approached the company he works for and to our delight they jumped on board with us 100%, they hosted an internal walk kick-off and they sponsored our team t-shirts. That year we had an amazing turnout of walkers and we raised over $5,600.00!!!

We ended up receiving an award for being the Top Family Rookie Team for 2009...a HUGE surprise to us and a HUGE honor! It felt good and it gave me such a sense of strength, we were doing something and we were making a difference. I started to do volunteer work with JDRF, becoming Chair of our local TOFUN committee (Type One Families United Network) and helping out at our local JDRF Gala...another story for another day :) It was great, I never gave another thought about being an ambassador family since that day at our luncheon...I never even spoke it out loud, it was just a thought, not something I was seeking out.

Then it happened...

We were asked if we would be interested in serving as the 2010 Walk To Cure Diabetes Ambassador Family!!! Shocked, scared, excited, nervous, happy...you name it, we felt it. In the end we faced our fears head on and we accepted, yes...we would be honored to be the 2010 Ambassador Family. So there it is, a full circle moment.

Just think, this one family inspired us to do so much...just because they shared their story! I am thankful everyday that I had an opportunity to hear their words and their story.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hello My Lovely Blog!


my lovely blog....HELLO...how I have missed you...

How I have missed sharing my stories, my moments of triumph and yes, even those awful moments of defeat...the good...the bad...and everything in between!!! How I have missed the words of my fellow bloggers. Yes...I have practically fallen off the face of the D-world!

I am so sorry that my absence has gone this long! I may have neglected you, but you were never far from my thoughts. I have been gone too long...BUT, I am back, jumping in with both feet...

Oh, the stories I have to share!