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Real Talk with Dave: The Time I Forgot My Insulin 2,000 Miles Away from Home (What to do in a Diabetic Emergency)

Aloha!

When we all think of Hawaii, we think of paradise. Beautiful beaches, swaying palm trees, and the great memories that can be made in the state of Hawaii. However, to me, Hawaii ended up being the place I learned the most valuable lesson ever in terms of living (and surviving) with Type 1 Diabetes.

            Back in 2015, my family and I took our summer vacation in the beautiful island of Honolulu/Maui in Hawaii. Now, if you know me, you know that I am obsessed with all things tropical and beach related, so you already know I was extremely excited to be visiting Hawaii. Ever since I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, traveling has always been a major stressor for me as I am never too sure what Diabetes supplies I should pack, how much I should bring, or what could happen as I travel with T1D. The good thing is that my family is always with me, so if anything were to go wrong, they always have my back. Well, that was exactly the case on this very trip.

I remember packing everything the night before our flight and I had a separate backpack with all my Diabetes supplies, except for my Insulin, as it needed to be in the refrigerator when not being used, so I decided to grab it out of the fridge the morning of as we were heading out the door to the airport. The thing is, I completely forgot to get it out of the fridge that morning. If you’re not Diabetic, you should know that Insulin is the most IMPORTANT part of managing T1D as it is essentially what keeps you alive. It’s like taking a fish out of the water. Can’t live without it. I hadn’t realized that I forgot my Insulin back home until we were at the airport (about 1-2 hours away from my house) and our flight was about to board soon, so we didn’t have time to drive back home or to the nearest pharmacy. I can remember being in a complete state of panic and shock as I had just processed in my mind how I am so far away from the medication I absolutely need in order to stay alive, and to be honest, I was pretty disappointed in myself at that very moment. I quickly let my parents know and they too were full of fear and concern as we had never been in a situation like that since my diagnosis.

Luckily, as mentioned, I had my family with me, who always have my back, so thankfully, my mom knew exactly what to do. She immediately dropped everything and called my Endocrinologist and pharmacy and told them of the situation. They were ever so kind as to help us out and recommend what we should do in this emergency. They advised that they put in a new order for me at the pharmacy in Hawaii once we arrived and be picked up at the closest possible pharmacy (which was actually very close to our hotel), so that is exactly what we did.

Thankfully, I wear an Insulin pump and had just changed out my site the night before and filled a new reservoir with Insulin that could last me for three days before it runs out, so I was safe to fly for about 5 hours from California to Hawaii and then go pick up my Insulin. Had I not been wearing a pump at that point in my life, I really don’t know what I would have done in that case. I owe it all to the advanced technology that is provided for us Diabetics these days.

Once we resolved the whole Insulin fiasco, what else could go wrong? Am I right? Actually, something else did go wrong. My Insulin pump completely broke and shut down on day one of my trip in Hawaii. Great. I honestly don’t know what the cause of it breaking was, it could have been a glitch or an error in which the pump simply just died on me (which is rare, but can happen). SO, again on the phone with the pump supplier company and explained the whole situation, in which they knew of the seriousness and inconvenience of having my pump shut down on me during vacation, so they rushed a replacement pump to the hotel right away, which I then received halfway through the trip. In the meantime, it was back to the basics… syringes. Yes, Insulin syringes. I had almost forgotten how to use them as I had been on the pump for so long, that I practically lost some knowledge on the proper way to inject myself with a syringe, but sure enough, I got the concept down again and figured it all out. Were my blood sugars out of the ordinary in that time being? Of course. However, I was in Hawaii, so I was not about to let ANYTHING slow me down or prevent me from having the time of my life, so that’s what I did.

            A few days later, my new pump had arrived, I obviously had my new insulin by then, and all was good again.

The reason this trip was so meaningful to me was because I truly learned the most valuable lesson I could ever learn as a Type 1 Diabetic. Insulin is key, no matter what. Now, when I travel, I always make a note in big letters that says “INSULIN” on it and put it on top of my travel bags as a reminder to grab the Insulin out of the fridge on my way out for any trip I may be going on. I also learned to never go anywhere far, even if it’s a day trip, without a vile of Insulin and a few syringes. You never know when you’ll be in a situation when your pump breaks down or you are having a severely high blood sugar due to a bad pump site, in which you will need to either change out your site or take an injection for a guaranteed dose of Insulin. I now feel safer when traveling as I am always prepared. I highly recommend always having a small emergency bag with you 24/7, when you are out on the go, just for unexpected emergencies like mine.

Though it is very stressful and annoying, I feel that it is important that we all face some type of emergency to learn from. Each ounce of chaos, big or small, will teach us something we can learn and apply to our situation the next time we are faced with a challenge. Diabetes is no joke and should never be taken lightly. There are some serious consequences that can result in lack of care and attention towards our Diabetes if not cared for properly. Though it was slightly my fault that I forgot my Insulin, I feel as though I needed something like that to happen to me, as I definitely learned a valuable lesson. We’re humans. We make mistakes and we forget things, but we have to keep moving forward and learn from the past.

Bottom line, in an emergency, no matter what the case, remain calm. Tell someone about the situation if circumstances allow so you don’t have to deal with it alone, and always know, wherever you are, however far you are, Insulin, pumps, meters, and glucose can be found/sent to your location ASAP. Diabetes is a well-known disease, even if people (non-Diabetics) seem uneducated or not sure of the situation, someone is always around to lend a helping hand in times of trouble and fear. Know your limits, know your body, and listen to your heart. Always have a backup plan, an emergency plan of action, and all together, live with confidence!

 

Stay focused, always be prepared, and learn along the way. T1D is tough, but you are BRAVE.

 

Live well,

 

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: Diabetics Take Over Disneyland

Ever since I was diagnosed with Type 1, I had always felt like something was missing. I was missing the social aspect of Diabetes. I had always wanted to be friends with another Diabetic or perhaps be a part of a Diabetic group of some sort. I had tried and tried to find a group, but for some reason, things weren’t working out for me. When I was in high school, I decided to go to a support group for T1D in hope of finding other Diabetics my age who I could be friends with and connect on a greater level with, but for some reason, it didn’t do the trick for me.

Fast forward to this year, this new year, 2018, things changed for the better. I had always been shy around new people at first and somehow developed a form of anxiety from not knowing the people I was with and not feeling a sense of comfort and safety around those I was with, however, this year, I made it my goal to get out of my comfort zone and be more involved in the Diabetic community and do more than just connecting with other Diabetics via Instagram.

During the first week of this new year, I saw an ad for a Type 1 Diabetic meet-up at Disneyland hosted by the organization, Beyond Type 1. If you know me, you would know that I am obsessed with all things Disney and am in love with Disneyland, so I felt like that was a sign that I just had to go. After thinking about it, going back and forth, I remembered my goal for this year, to get more involved and out of my comfort zone, and so I did, and boy am I glad I did!

On Sunday, January 7, 2018, I woke up bright and early to go to the Happiest Place on Earth to meet up with a group of some very amazing Diabetics doing some very amazing things!

I hadn’t met any of them before, only through social media, and some I didn’t even know via Instagram, so I was a bit nervous, but very excited to meet everyone. As I walked into Disneyland alone in search for the group, I couldn’t help but be filled with thrill and excitement as I was finally going to be with people that I could be completely myself around, as could they, and we wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about Diabetic things as we were all together, dealing with the same exact things.

As I finally found the group, I was ever so kindly greeted by some of the nicest and realist people out there. Everyone who came to the meet-up were rocking their Dexcoms (CGMs), Insulin Pumps, blood glucometers, and Insulin pens. When I found that everyone was wearing their sites so proudly, I suddenly felt very comfortable to be a part of such an amazing group. I had never been around Diabetics who seemed to understand completely all the struggles from wearing sites in public to dealing with lows and highs on the go, so it was very refreshing to stop and just think how it was okay to experience all the Diabetic issues that day as literally everyone was dealing with lows and highs throughout the day.

As we walked around the park, went on some fun rides, ate lunch and had ice cream, we all shared some really special moments! Comparing Insulin pumps, recommending Endocrinologists, treating lows, sharing diagnosis stories, hashing out all the daily struggles, and pumping Insulin, we all just understood it. Most of us had never met face to face, yet because we were all Diabetic, we instantly became friends because of that one special bond we shared. As the day progressed, we all got closer with each other and shared many laughs and good times with one another.

For once, I was very comfortable being a Type 1 Diabetic because this time, I wasn’t the only one. It almost felt like we were the honorary guests of Disneyland that day as we all knew how hard T1D is and we came to celebrate for a day the hard work and effort we put each day into our health! By the end of the day, we had all become the best of friends, leaving us with nothing but hope and happiness!

This was honestly one of the best Diabetic days I had ever experienced in my 9 years of living with Type 1. After seeing how each person from the group had dealt with their health so confidently, I felt so hopeful about the future of living with Diabetes and I felt as though I can keep on going in this fight against T1D.

We all came from different backgrounds and we all had a different story to tell, but when we all came together, we felt like the most powerful group of people as that is what Diabetics truly are, brave and amazing people!

So don’t be afraid to try new things that will benefit you and your overall sense of wellbeing. Had I not gone to this T1D meet-up, I would have been feeling a bit lonely and depressed about my Diabetes. Now, I feel energized and revived in a sense, with new hope and assurance for all things Diabetes! Maybe even you could start a Diabetic meet-up in your town, you may end up meeting lifelong friends and finding hope of a cure one day!

 

Live well,

 

Dave

How to Turn Your LYFE on in 2018

The holiday season is the best time of the year, filled with family, food, and laughter! As much as everyone loves gingerbread cookies, pumpkin bread, and all of the holiday drinks, too much of a good thing can take a toll on our health goals. Here are some recommendations on how to start the new year off strong, and stick to your goals!

  1. Make sure your health and fitness goals are attainable! Setting goals that are challenging, but reachable, is key. An example of this could be, going for a 30-minute walk or run everyday, cutting refined sugar out the diet, consuming less meat (especially red).  For Type 1’s, having a lower A1C, eating less carbohydrates, or food logging daily could be great goals!
  2. Don’t forget about your mental health.  This time of year drives motivation to get healthy and “fit”, but often, we forget to take care of our mental health. The holidays can be a stressful time, and it is important to recharge mental so you can start 2018 fresh! Yoga, meditation, reading, journaling–  anything that brings you joy and releases stress should be a priority, just as much as a hard workout!
  3. Find a friend! Whether it is a workout buddy, an “Instagram friend”, or just a close friend who you share your goals with– it is important to have someone to share the journey with, and keep you accountable!

Remember to give yourself some credit! Celebrate the victories along the way, big or small.  

LYFESTORY: Lauren Plunkett, Type 1 Diabetic RDN, CDE, & Fitness Instructor

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), fitness instructor, public speaker, and proudly live my life as a healthy person with Type 1 Diabetes for more than 24 years. Like many of you, my story began with the realization that I needed to change my eating habits and exercise routine. I also needed to wholeheartedly embrace the fact that I have type 1 diabetes, but most of all I simply wanted to live better.

 

I could define myself in many ways based on my experiences, but most of all I am determined, strong-willed, and not a quitter. So, I raised the bar on myself and found a way. Now, my role is to pay it forward and share my knowledge.

 

My professional goal is to support people with T1D of all ages with nutrition education specific to their individual needs with regular exercise. Nothing makes me more excited than to work with athletes with T1D! I am very driven to provide education that I would have found valuable when I was a teenager. My philosophy is evidence-based through sports nutrition research but also from many years of personal trial and error while becoming more physically fit.  

 

One thing I have learned is that people with T1D are all at different stages of glucose management. Some may be thriving with what seems like effortless blood glucose control, while others struggle with the basics. Keeping track of test strips, dosages, and technology, can be so overwhelming! I believe in meeting a person where they are in the learning process because it’s so easy to cave under the pressure of perfect nutrition and an impressive A1c.

 

T1D management is a partnership within all the other aspects of what makes us who we are. Hemoglobin A1c does not define us. We are individuals first. Individuals with unique nutritional needs, interests, and fitness goals.

 

When I present education I often say that I did not become a nutrition expert the very moment I was diagnosed with T1D. It takes a massive amount of effort and will-power to master diabetes and I had my own struggles for years before finding my method of success. And that’s when lifelong health maintenance begins. This is one reason why I see myself in every person I meet with T1D and I am such a fan of anyone putting in the work.  

Social Media :www.lpnutritionconsulting.com

Instagram: @vegetitian

Oh No, I’m low!

Being a Type 1 Diabetic for almost eight years now, it’s second nature. Nothing phases me anymore, not even ignorant comments or grueling routine blood draws. As anyone reading this post who either has T1D, or is close to a T1D, knows, there becomes a point where it just becomes a part of you.

I no longer have diabetes; I am a diabetic.

This feeling of figuring I know the way the disease will manifest itself in my day to day life, can quickly shatter as soon as diabetes makes me feel weak.

Being low is never a great feeling, not before or after you down two juice boxes and half a tub of peanut butter without realizing it. Lows as a collegiate athlete are much worse. Learning to combat the shame I feel when I have a 40 mg/dl blood sugar reading half way through a two hour tennis practice, and have to sit out for twenty minutes is an uphill battle. This shame is not induced by anyone but myself, though. The feeling of sitting out when the rest of my team is out practicing, is one of the few times I feel disabled.

I often sit there, repeating thoughts in my head, such as, “You are an idiot for taking insulin before practice”, or “You are pathetic; buck up and get out there”.

However, I am not pathetic. I am not an idiot. In fact, I am someone without a full-functioning pancreas.

I am a someone who has to alter their daily life significantly because of an illness that I did not cause. On top of all of that, I do all of the other things my teammates do, and succeed as a collegiate student athlete.

So where does this shame stem? As a seasoned T1D, I put unnecessary pressure on myself to be perfect, and to get angry with myself for the lows and highs. Having many other T1D friends, I know I am not the only one who does this. These feelings of shame creep up often  during a low on an important test, or during a tennis match, where I am representing my team and university.

While I cannot say the “shameful lows” are completely gone, as I head into my final year of school and as an athlete, I can say, they have substantially lessened in my four years in college. Instead of getting angry at myself for the low blood sugar, I shifted the internal conversations to question why I’d gone low and how I could better prepare for next time I was in a similar situation.

In shifting this focus, I now see lows and highs as a learning and growth opportunity. For highs (which are usually due to adrenaline) during matches, I think of diabetes as a mental game with myself, and laugh off mistakes instead of letting the anger get to me or my blood sugar. For lows, I have tailored my diet and eating times substantially to set me up for success in the classroom and on the court.

Shifting my focus from negatively viewing the disease’s impact on my physical and mental health, to seeing T1D as a way to better understand my body, has helped my mind and my a1c.

Mother of Three: Two Kids, and Type 1 Diabetes

Hi! My name is Charlotte, I live in Belgium, am happily married, and am a mother to two beautiful kids.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15. It has been more than 22 years that I have been living with this chronic disease. The first 15 years I helped myself with injections and blood sugar fingerpicks. After that, I finally felt ready for a new chapter in my life : “being a type 1 mother”.

The doctors told me becoming a mother was possible with type 1 diabetes, as long as my blood sugar levels are around 6% (A1c). I was further recommended to change from my usual insulin injections with a pen to an insulin pump.

I was ready for motherhood, but not for the insulin pump.

A device that would make my disease much more visible, compared to a pen which I could hide from everyone. How would I ever go to the beach in my bikini with an insulin pump? Yet another hurdle which took me some time to overcome. But becoming a mother was stronger than my fear of an insulin pump, so I gave it a try.

Three months later I felt myself on top of the world, reaching my a HA1c of 6.2 and becoming pregnant. When I look back at my pregnancy, keeping my blood sugar levels at that level took a lot of energy and generated a lot of stress. However at that time I was living on a pink cloud, as I was really looking forward to that precious moment having my baby in my arms.

This moment of glory and happiness arrived two times to me. First there was my beautiful son named Louis. Three years later I got my wonderful daughter, Célestine, who made me proud for the second time in motherhood. Both are happy and healthy.

Last year, three years after the birth of my daughter, I was feeling down, very tired and had a lot of pain in my belly and intestines. I was suffering from a lot of fatigue and my blood sugar levels were catastrophic.

Four to five hypoglycemia a day were a daily routine. I felt myself so tired and my body needed to rest and to reduce my stress levels significantly.

After consulting my doctor, we decided to take a step back from my hectic day to day life of being a mother of two lovely kids and supporting my husband with his career (thus requiring  frequent traveling and a 13 year carrier in an American multinational, where the stress levels were a daily part of my job).

Due to my doctor’s assessment, a Leaky Gut Syndrome, malabsorption, and my autoimmune disease, I was forced to change my lifestyle (a diet with gluten-, lactose- and egg- intolerances).

By changing my habits and diet, I reached 2 goals: first to become more energetic and pain free, and secondly to stabilize my blood sugars. From that moment, I felt myself more comfortable to embrace my diabetes!

And for now, I am the mother of three: Louis, Célestine and my Type 1 diabetes.

My ambition in the future is to coach and help other diabetes patients in the future in Belgium. I want to do this by showing people that by changing a few lifestyle habits we can get a lot more in this life!

Here in Belgium, diabetics are so afraid to talk and to show the environment about this topic, and I really want to change this. A few months ago , I started an Instagram account to inspire others and motivate others with this disease…. “Charlotte Celebrates life with diabetes type 1 “

Feel free to follow me on Instagram @charlottecelebrates

The purpose is to help myself and others to Celebrate life, by motivating and chowing some color in this sometimes colorless world of diabetes.

My Diagnosis With Type 1 Diabetes

Everyones’ diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes is different. This is why I started my blog – to share my story and this post was the very beginning.

This is my story…

Every person diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes may have similar symptoms but not everybody’s diagnosis is the same. This story is from my account but parts within my memory are hazy. I don’t know whether It is because I was so ill or that It was a sensitive time so I’ve blocked it out.

It all started when I was in year 7 around the summer term. Everyone who took part in the stage production of Oliver at my high school was taken down to London to see Hairspray the musical as a reward. All I can remember was being incredibly thirsty. Within a few hours of my journey, I had drunk nearly all 3 bottles of my water. So as you can imagine after drinking all that water I started to need the toilet. Realizing myself that I’d drunk a lot on the way there, but just putting it down to the fact that it was a novelty to be allowed flavored water, on the way back I tried not to drink any. However, after falling asleep, I woke up to find my mouth incredibly dry, resulting in me drinking another bottle. It’s just the hot weather making you drink a lot I thought to myself.

Later in the term, I was becoming incredibly tired. By the end of the term, I was exhausted. I was still drinking lots and during the end of year exams, I started to annoy one or two of my teachers constantly asking to fill up my bottle and asking to go to the toilet. Standing outside my form room, I remember this like yesterday, I fiddled with my skirt and it very nearly fell to the floor. That night we had to buy a new skirt from the school shop before speech day at the end of the week. My mum and dad put it down to a growth spurt and I thought nothing of it.

The summer holidays rolled around. At the beginning of the holidays my cousins, sister and myself went to Filey for a week with my grandparents, something we did nearly ever year since being little. I continued drinking lots and going to the toilet a lot. My gran always tells me how she remembers I was drinking so much Robinsons fruit squash – looking back I agree. Constantly needing the toilet when you are at the beach leads to many difficulties – mainly the lack of toilet! Dragging my gran to the sailing club many times a day she knew something was wrong.

‘Promise me you will go to the Doctors when you get back from Spain’ – Gran the Pan (as we call my Gran haha)

 I dismissed it – I didn’t think anything was wrong.

Our holiday in Filey ended and we headed straight for our friend’s villa in Spain. This time with my parents, sister, cousins, auntie and uncle. This is where I became ill quickly. I was eating constantly  (I developed a love for ham toasties) and losing dramatic weight. Every night I would get up around 5 times and every morning I’d have drunk around 4 litres of water (It’s hard to hide how much you have drunk when the water is in a bottle abroad!) Every morning when I’d wake up I was as tired as I had been that night when I had gone to bed. But everybody is sleepy and lazy on holiday – that’s what I thought my tiredness was down too! My dad and uncle tried to throw me in the pool, ‘don’t snap her she’s like a twig!’ my dad joked (unknowingly of course!)

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When we arrived home my mum took me to the doctors, I tried to persuade her not to go but it was no use. This is a TMI warning – so they wanted me to wee in a bottle and as a 12-year-old girl, I refused. We took the bottle home and was told to bring it back the next morning. Finally, after sleeping on the idea I reluctantly did. The doctors then ran some tests and told my mum the results should be there later that day and they would ring us. But an hour later there was a phone call…

It was Doctor Brophy my godparent and GP. He told my mum and dad that I urgently needed to go to the hospital because I had extremely high blood sugar and ketone readings. We rushed all the way to the hospital and I had some more tests. They weighed me and took some blood samples. My mum and dad were both really nervous but I didn’t really understand. They told me that I was Type 1 Diabetic and that my bloods were 38! They explained to me that a non-diabetics blood sugar is between 4 and 7. I weighed around 4.3 stone and my condition at the time was severe. They told us that I was very lucky and that if we had not gone to the doctors on that day I would have been in a coma (shortly followed by death from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis))

5th August 2009 – The date I was diagnosed.

It was really hard being diagnosed with a ‘disease’ (ergh I hate that term!) that you have never heard of and there is no cure for. It hit my parents especially hard. I remember being sat in a room and my dad having to leave – I know it was because he was trying to process it and didn’t want me to see him upset. My mum with soft Northern Irish heart just cried. (I’ve just cried writing this). I refused to stay in hospital that night. I just wanted to go home. I was told I was allowed if I did my own injection at home and came straight back the next morning. ‘ (From what I recall – my dad may have a different version) What would you like?’ My dad asked when we were sat in the hospital. Instant laughter from the nurses and my dad when they found out it was going to cost my parents an iPhone 3. Every cloud and all that ? haha!

The rest of the summer is just a blur to me – I remember going to Clumber Park in our caravan, we always go to Clumber when a big event happens in our life. But apart from that, all I remember from the rest of the summer is my parents helping me (mostly them) carb counting my dinner, scales, carb ratios and insulin injections.I did my own injections from the start – I refused to let anyone else inject me.

September rolled around and with all my new diabetic supplies I headed off to my first day of year 8. I was lucky enough for my mum to work at school so she let all the staff know that I had Type 1 – however, I was petrified of telling my friends. Our first lesson was Biology and I think all the stress got to me because I felt really strange. From what I remember I’d only had this feeling once before. I checked my blood sugars and they were low. I remember being really embarrassed having to tell my teacher I was low but she was lovely. Some of the symptoms of low blood sugars are lack of concentration, dizziness, and shakiness. I had two plain digestive biscuits to bring me back up as my eyes were welled up with tears. My friends on my table asked what was wrong. Newly diagnosed I didn’t know how everyone would react. Only knowing about Type 2 before I was diagnosed and how it was portrayed in the media I thought they’d think it was because of my weight (which to be honest) you must have been able to tell it wasn’t!

 I wrote it on my wrist – ‘I have Type 1 Diabetes’ – That took so much of my courage.

Being Diagnosed with Type 1 wasn’t the be all and end all. It was the beginning and the start of a long journey but not a bad one – it’s a roller coaster. It was a learning process, it still is and it always will be. I hope by sharing my story it will be relatable to other Type 1’s – the unknown, the confusion and the symptoms. If you didn’t know what it was like to be diagnosed with Type 1 I hope it’s given you more of an understanding (and well done for reading to the end!)

Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx

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