Monday, November 14, 2016

It's kind of a big deal

Canada Post Millennium Collection stamp in 2000
It was 125 years ago, on November 14th, 1891 when Sir (Dr.) Frederick Banting was born in Alliston, Ontario, not far from where I'm sitting right now. Today we celebrate World Diabetes Day, in part because we reach out to others to educate, but to also acknowledge that because of Banting's ingenuity, so many people with diabetes are here today. 

Before 1921, a diagnosis of diabetes was grim. And even though some complications of diabetes might still be grim, improved technology and health care has improved lives of those of us living with Type 1 Diabetes (previously known as 'Juvenile Diabetes'). 

To honour Sir Banting's discovery, I thought I'd share some fascinating historical facts with you. If this were one of those somewhat annoying Facebook posts that you see in your timelines, the subject line would be “5 things you didn’t know about the discovery of insulin”. (You may notice I decided not to go down that road, where if you did click on such an 'article', you might also expect to be treated to some snake oil cure for diabetes. And this isn't that, I promise). 

So here we go...
  1. Banting had an idea reading a research paper at the end of October 1920. He secured some lab space from J.J.R. Macleod at the University of Toronto in November where he worked with Charles Best, a medical student. After a lot of hard work and long hours, the resulting refined hormone insulin was given to a young boy in a coma at Toronto General Hospital in January 1921. The time it took for this entire process? In case you missed that timeline, it was only 2-1/2 months!
  2. Banting, Best, and Macleod signed over their patents for $1 each to the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to produce insulin to make it available to all people, everywhere. Where Toronto didn't have the manufacturing and distribution resources, this company did. Although insulin has been refined substantially, it is still the same hormone as it was invented 95 years ago. 
  3. Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923. Banting almost refused the award because it didn't include his partner, but instead shared his monetary prize with Best. 
  4. Banting was a war hero in WWI, and died in a plane crash in WWII. 
  5. Banting was also an acclaimed painter, and was a close friend of Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson

So, World Diabetes Day is kind of a big deal. It is remarkable what started with one man's idea and some ingenuity, it transformed into a discovery that has saved countless lives, including my own. And how cool is that? 

Google Doodle - November 14, 2016 (95 year anniversary of discovery of insulin)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Diabetesopoly: The Reboot

I'm late. I'm late for a very important date.
No time to say hello goodbye
I'm late I'm late I'm late...
~ The White Rabbit (words by Bob Hilliard)

I've no excuses for such tardiness, but here I am, late again. A low blood sugar can be a good reason for being late, for example. But not this time. Not for my last post in the 6th DBlogWeek series

For this last topic, I've decided to take a wildcard because the 'official' topic tasks me with choosing a favourite blogpost posted during DBlogWeek. You may have heard this from me before, but I struggle because my favourite may not be yours. For you may think that the one I choose is superfluous (I've always wanted to use that word, so there you go). 

What's important is your journey of discovery to find a blog post that speaks to you. There are so many wonderful, insightful, and creative blogs out there that have been written by equally brilliant people. I invite you to check out each of the topic pages to discover them all for yourself.

The theme I have chosen is to Personify Diabetes. 

Backing up a bit, when I was cleaning out my desk last week to move to another office location, I found something that I worked on for DArtDay in February 2014. To be clear, I am not artistically inclined, not in the traditional sense. I once was tasked to draw an amoeba in grade 9. I was told under no uncertain terms that it did not look like an amoeba, and that I had to go back to the drawing board. (I personally think that was harsh, but it did help me prepare for living life with diabetes hah!)

So with this in mind, for that DArtDay project, I opened my trustworthy spreadsheet program and re-created everybody's favourite (not-so-favourite?) game - Diabetesopoly. Diabetes is rather like living a competitive game. 

DEFINITION of 'Monopoly' A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. By definitionmonopoly is characterized by an absence of competition, which often results in high prices and inferior products.

Can we draw a comparison here? Sure we can. 

So I decided now would be a good time for a reboot to my first version which I featured in a post in February 2014. It's amazing how quickly some things have changed in that short period of time, especially in technology. With that in mind, the reboot - Diabetesopoly v2.0 - now features some new 'properties' and 'commodities' on the board. 

As you play the game, whether or not you live with it or love somebody who lives with it, you can see how living life with diabetes adds a whole layer of challenge to 'normal' people life. It also explains why I'm late for so many things. But late or not, this game is intense. 

Maybe for my next theme day, I'll take on the Game of Life (with Diabetes), or perhaps Snakes and Ladders. (Ha! I like that one)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Looking back and looking forward

It's hard to believe that I have been blogging for 7 years. When I first started this blog, I didn't know anything about a Diabetes Online Community. I barely knew knew what a blog was. I just knew I created a space where I could write stuff, felt that I had something to say sometimes, and I had a bunch of furballs in my life, so this blog was born. 

It didn't have any particular direction at the time, and sometimes it still embodies that randomness. At first I told the stories of whatever came to my mind, but it was rooted in family, and especially all of our Furballs. Over time, it has evolved into what you see today.  

This is a very late entry for DBlogWeek, was supposed to be posted a week ago, but everyone who knows anything about me, I am always late, but I have good intentions.

This day's topic is to write about a favourite sentence or blogpost, which I struggled with because I put my heart and soul into each one. So how could I possibly choose just one? Yet this is my theme for today, so I will put on my thinking cap and do my best. 

Storytelling is an age-old art to share the human experience. In a post called, "That thing you are doing", I think I captured my thoughts on why I put everything out there the way I do. Writing helps me work through whatever is going on in my life. But when I share whatever it is, I hope that it somehow speaks to you in some way, and perhaps inspires you to one day share your own story, in your own way. Not only does this passage carry the core of why I share my stories, it also ends with a quote that I believe would make our world just a little bit better if we lived our lives with this as a guide.

Whatever it is, whatever brought you here, and however you get to where you are going, you will take away a new fresh perspective all your very own. And one day, you may find yourself sharing your own take on things with others - your partner, your extended family, or your best friend, over a cold lemonade and a package of Oreos. And maybe your sharing with them can expand their world just a little bit too as they go on their own life journey.  
And that makes you an advocate too. 
It doesn't take much. Just as Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". 
From "That thing you are doing" (August 2014)

So that's my favourite post, at least at this moment. But I'm betting it's not necessarily yours. because it's the posts that speak to you that really matter - the ones that give your heart a lift, or perhaps give a shot of perspective into the mix. That's all I really want.

Looking back gives a view of where one has been, and tells a story of how one has arrived in the present. That's what this assignment was about, or at least what I was thinking. But what's important, is that I now choose to look at what might be in the future. And the future holds change.

I want that, and I want to be part of a Change, whatever that may be. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Food and the 100 Acre Wood

My relationship with food is complicated. But I think Winnie-the-Pooh can help de-construct my relationship.

What I like best

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
~A.A. Milne

I love food. Always have. I love pasta and rice. I love chips. I love chocolate and I love cake. But there are consequences when you have diabetes. Blood sugars spike; sometimes for several hours afterwards, regardless on how accurate the carb counting was, or the increase in a temporary basal (background) insulin. So I (sometimes) choose moderation. I first stop and think, can I eat this right now? And if I decide I can, I do so, sometimes with moderation, and sometimes with abandon. I may pay the price, but I do so with thought. 

There is a caveat to that, in that some foods are my trigger foods, as hunny is to Pooh. These foods are not in our home. Things like Oreos. One low blood sugar, one moment of a 'panic' kind of eating as two arrows down show on my continuous glucose monitor, and most of a bag can be demolished. So I don't buy them. I make sure we have glucose tabs on hand to take care of those insane moments. 

What about lunch?

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long difficult words but rather short easy words like, "What about lunch?"
~A.A. Milne

What about lunch? Dinner? Snacks? Not just because it's time. Sometimes it's because I have to. Blood sugars rue the day. High, low, or in between. I'm always aware of the question lurking in the back of my mind. Do I need to eat? What should I eat? 

Ten pots of honey...

... and when the whole Escape was finished, there was Pooh sitting on his branch dangling his legs, and there, beside him, were ten pots of honey....
~A.A. Milne

Food can be like medicine. Lows blood sugars, and plenty of them have taught me to consider the impact of food on my blood sugars. What 4-5 glucose tabs, test, and if necessary, another tab or two, and test again. Sometimes I choose ice cream. Because I can, and it tastes good. Not always a good choice, but it is a delicious choice.

Getting thin?

"How long does getting thin take?" Pooh asked anxiously.
~A.A. Milne

I used to care, but I don't anymore. I'm not saying I won't ever lose weight, but by now my expectations have been set that I won't ever get thin. On most days, I'm comfortable in my skin. Ask me tomorrow, and you might get another answer, but as long as I have a special someone - a Christopher Robin to care for me and who will read me stories in the meantime - I'm not worried about it. 

What's for breakfast?

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"  
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
I say I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.  
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said. 
~A.A. Milne

Suddenly food isn't so complicated anymore. Sometimes living life, and eating food, is just like eating honey in the rain or being stuck in Rabbit's hole. 

You just never know what surprises are waiting. Sometimes good, and sometimes not-so-good. But there's always another waking up, another breakfast to look forward to tomorrow. 

How wonderful it would be if food could be eaten, with no consideration to be given to one's blood sugar. How wonderful would it be if no one had to deal with the short term challenges of low blood sugars, or the long term challenges of complications due to high blood sugars. Organizations are working on this, and funding brings research into new horizons, previously unimagined, like the Artificial Pancreas project or other new technologies. 

We can make a choice - to participate, support a family member, or any one of our T1D friends who are also making a choice to support the JDRF. We can do it many ways, including supporting, or even participating in the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes

No matter where you live, the JDRF is working to support you, or those you love and care for who live with diabetes. Look up your DRF chapter and find out what they are doing, to make living life with diabetes just a bit better for all of us. 

This Walk raises critical funds for research focused on curing, treating and better preventing Diabetes. I am all about that! 

And is it a fit? I'll let you figure that part out, and I'll just continue writing, and hope what I share with you here gives you something to reflect on.