My Kids Love Mornings Like This

As a family we have a certain way of navigating through each day of the week.  Obviously there are marked differences between what we refer to as “school days” (meaning an impressive coordination of school, kinder, day care and work), and weekends or holidays.

Both kids came into the bedroom this morning to find me still in bed between 6:30am and 7am.  So they jumped in for cuddles and we had a chat about what was on the cards for the rest of the day.  I handed them the iPad and told them to relax while I have a shower and get ready for work.  We hit the kitchen for breakfast around 8am and on the way there I told them today was going to be lovely so find something fun and summery to wear.  They both emerged from their bedrooms in attire that would get them through the day and meandered their way through breakfast while I brewed a pot of coffee.  Much to their delight, lunch boxes were simplified and canteen orders were written.  It was one of the menu days they love but don’t usually get to have because I prefer to prepare their food.  One of them looked at the clock and realised it was almost time to leave the house so they both quickened their pace, finished getting themselves ready and their bags packed.  Somewhere in between that moment and arriving at work the necessary tasks were completed. I managed to find a pair of sneakers that had been missing since last night.  The cat was set up with food and water for a warm day outside.  I packed a bag so I could go straight to a boxing class from work.  The day care drop off was seamless albeit late and I arrived at work in good time.

Normally I would have gotten myself ready for work, made breakfasts and lunches, and packed bags before the kids rolled out of their delightful slumbers.  There are things I like to get done in the morning so when we get home at the end of the day the ‘dinner – bath – homework – bed’ routine runs smoothly for the kids.  There is often a bit of chasing, random hugs, chaos, last minute requests, giggles, reminding, reminding, reminding… and all executed at an effective pace.

But not today.  And here’s why.

I found myself in my pyjamas at the kitchen table with the curtains closed, a light on and silence all around me.  There was a mug, a bottle of milk, a box of dried biscuits, a tub of butter, an empty zip lock sandwich bag and me.  I started making assumptions about how I got there.  Notions of sleep walking came and went but didn’t stick.  I had disjointed recollections of being pinned to the deck of an old wooden pirate ship and being drenched by waves rolling over me in a torrential storm.  I even toyed with the idea that I might be the butt of someone’s joke and I would find myself on YouTube!  But there was a distinct taste in my mouth that raised red flag number one.  I lent back in the chair and felt the back of my shirt was wet which raised red flag number two.  Red flag number three flew up when I looked over to the display on the microwave and it read 1:56am.

Suddenly I felt it was too much to process.  I quickly packed up the mess on the kitchen table, checked on the kids, switched the light off and headed for the bedroom.  I sat on the edge of the bed and scrolled through the history on my blood glucose metre to find this…

BGMeter14Oct15The screen illuminated the bed which appeared to be drenched in sweat.

I put the meter away and lied down; cold skin and a fuzzy head.

Overwhelming thoughts and feelings washed over me.  It was amazing that sometimes I have an autopilot mechanism which activates to treat a hypo in the middle of the night.

Next thing I knew the kids jumped on me for a cuddle and we started our day.

But simple, no frills and in survival mode.

And nothing that couldn’t be helped along by a hot shower, two codeine, a strong coffee and skipping breakfast.

My kids love mornings like this; out of routine, a bit special and relaxed.

And I have decided to keep it that way.


An angry & unreasonable train of thought

ImageIrritability and anger are two hypo symptoms I am not proud of.  I am often unreasonably flying off the handle before I realise that it is due to my blood sugar being low and treating.  Early mornings are the hardest time for me to manage at the moment.  I experience the dawn phenomenon and have found that the best way to prevent higher blood glucose levels in the morning is to adjust my basal rates.  Unfortunately this only works effectively if I wake up at the same time and follow a reasonably tight routine for the two hours following.  Anyone with kids and / or pets will know that that is rarely achievable!  Most of the time I can fumble through.  If I don’t it usually ends up in a messy hypo, then an awkward rebound high BSL mid-morning.  Lately I’m not managing the fumble very well.

On this particular morning, I was standing at the coffee machine for the fifth time having not actually made a coffee.  There were a variety of reasons for this; most relating to the kids and BobCat.  I could feel that the BSL of 5.8 mmol/L that I had woken up with slipping away.  I should have eaten about 30 minutes earlier but that simply didn’t happen.  A sweet little voice floated across the kitchen from the bench where the kids were eating breakfast.  It was my wise old owl, Aspen of 8 years saying, “Mummy, you are really quick to get angry today.  One thing goes wrong and you just get angry, without giving us any chances or warnings.”

My heart sank and I turned to face the corner so that Aspen & Jarrah couldn’t see my expression of utter failure and defeatism.

In that moment this was my train of thought…

♥ How dare you say that, Aspen

♥ Oh gawd, Kim settle down, it’s not her fault

♥ It’s my fault; I should be the adult and not anger so quickly

♥ But I only get angry like that when I have a hypo

♥ Oh hold on, am I having a hypo?

♥ Geezus, I should know how to handle my BSL’s in the morning

♥ Hang on a minute, I do and it still doesn’t work out

♥ So what the hell am I supposed to do about that

♥ I want to get angry at someone, for them to deserve it and it mean something

♥ I wish my diabetes had a face so I could punch it square between the eyes

♥ Gawd diabetes makes normal things so frustrating sometimes

♥ Why don’t I just grab a handful of jelly beans to treat this hypo

♥ Because I don’t want my BSL to go high later on or have those extra calories on board

♥ And just because! Because why should I?!

♥ How selfish of you, Kim; your kids should come first and you shouldn’t get angry at them for no reason

♥ But I do have reasons; reasons that very few people understand first hand

♥ If I let my BSL go high every morning so I don’t get angry, then my HbA1c creeps up

♥ And if I let my HbA1c creep up, my chances of complications increase

♥ If I get complications my kids may not have me around for as long as I want to be around for them

♥ Oh stop being melodramatic, Kim

♥ But you’re on borrowed time; 27 year of type 1 diabetes and counting

♥ Bloddy hell, I hope that my “angry hypo moments” don’t make my kids feel like I don’t love them

♥ Gawd I love my kids

♥ I love them so much I can’t think straight

Then the moment passed.  I made myself a large flat white with one and I got on with my day.


It’s Easy As 1, 2, 3…

My son, Jarrah is turning three in April.  After harnessing the power of verbal communication, (in other words, he spoke and most understood) I made a quiet decision to start talking about my diabetes to him.  I’ve done my best to adapt words and concepts to age-appropriate material, and that has been a feat in itself!  How do you explain to a two year old boy why Mummy gets to eat jelly beans when ever she has a hypo?  Suffice to say I have recently switched to glucose tablets to avoid that discussion.   Merely picking my battles there!

Back in December last year, Jarrah fell very ill with a chest infection that graduated to a mild case of pneumonia.  I spent most nights calming and comforting him through coughing fits and fevers.  One thing that ended up being a little light entertainment for him was my insulin pump.  He has always known it’s been there and figured out which button switches the backlight on and off, but we started talking about what it actually was.

I managed to record a snap shot of one of our conversations:

It will be a slow and steady process, and I will continue to teach him aspects of my diabetes that I think he needs to know and can handle.  My gorgeous eight year old daughter, Aspen has coped well with everything she has observed and I have taught her.  I have two of the most delightful guardian angels by my sides and I am eternally grateful.

Kids Otways

A Glass Of Milk

My childhood memories of living with type 1 diabetes don’t really resemble what I observe families to experience these days.  I acknowledge my recollections are skewed by the innocence of childhood.  I believe my parents did a fabulous job of instilling values such as resilience, independence and responsibility when it came to managing my diabetes.  As an adult I have learnt that my parents did experience stress and anxiety, but they never burdened me with their feelings.  Being oblivious to all of this as a child helped shape my positive attitude around self-care, management of expectations, advocacy and good health over the years.

I came across an article late last year which got me thinking.  It was entitled, “The Relationship Between Maternal Fear of
Hypoglycaemia and Adherence in Children with Type 1 Diabetes”.  Two of the words in the title sent prickles up my spine immediately, “Fear” and “Adherence”.  A quick flick through Kim’s Diabetes Terminology Thesaurus would see these words substituted with “Awareness” and “Choices”… but that’s for another blog at another time!

My thoughts were about the fear that parents talk to me about feeling for their children experiencing undetected hypos in their sleep.  I know this happens.  And I know this happens a lot.  I also know that my parents very rarely did blood tests on me overnight.  If I could talk to my Mum, (may her soul rest in peace) I would ask her whether she lost sleep over my blood sugar levels overnight.  Did she want to test, but didn’t because it wasn’t part of the recommended diabetes management plan when I was a child?  Or was it a phenomenon that she wasn’t even familiar with at the time?

Not long after I read the article, (which was a good read by the way,) I had a nasty post-dinner hypo and even by bed time I only managed to raise my blood sugar level to 4.5 mmol/L.  My husband, Paul was quite anxious about the potential of an overnight hypo.  Only a few weeks prior to this incident, I had experienced an overnight hypo where my CGM trace was below 2.2 for several hours and I lost consciousness.  Neither of us woke up to the alarms and I hadn’t switched on the Low Glucose Suspend function.

My instincts were telling me that I was fine, but obviously that wasn’t enough evidence for my husband.  I told him I’d have a glass of milk going to bed and I’ll be right, but that didn’t ease his anxiety so I made a deal with him.  I’d go drink that glass of milk going to bed and he could do a blood test on me at 2am on one condition – he wasn’t allowed to wake me up!  So we both kept our ends of the deal and my blood glucose level at 2am was a tidy 6.1 mmol/L.

Beaker of Milk

If I didn’t have a husband to check up on me at 2am I don’t think I would have woken myself to do so.  I had an undeniable sense that the glass of milk would be the fix I needed.

I know it’s not science; but it worked that night.

I haven’t quite finished that hypo yet

I’ve never written a blog at this time of night before, but I have to vent!  It’s definitely not the right time to sit down with the laptop and bang out a few ideas because I haven’t quite finished my usual chores for this evening.  I haven’t quite finished wiping down the stove top after cooking a messy stir fry for dinner… I haven’t quite picked up all the rice off the floor after said stir fry was devoured by a ravenous two-year-old… I haven’t quite put an exhausted 7-year-old to bed… and I haven’t quite recovered from the first, (of five) hypos that I had this morning somewhere between waking up and getting breakfast into me.  And it’s OzDOC night…

I have the worst case of hypo brain right now.  I can’t think straight.  There’s a dull headache knocking at my forehead.  All I want to do is curl up and go to sleep, but since treating this fifth hypo of the day with a mountain of glucose, I’m all jittery and alert.  My body has been through the mill and here’s why.

A few months ago I decided to make some changes to my eating habits and lifestyle.  There were a number of signs to suggest that the way I was living, albeit reasonably healthy for the average human being, was not conducive with my individual health.  I have seen vast improvements in recent times;  I am pleased, proud and motivated to continue improving my health.

Among the list of improvements, my average total daily dose of insulin has dropped by about 40% and my HbA1c is on a steady decline.  Generally speaking, this is all good, great and wonderful on “paper”, but in real life it really does bite the big one at times.  Times like today when I just feel like I can’t get enough glucose on board for my brain to function.

Low Predicted

I’m pretty tough and I can handle feeling like rubbish; it’s amazing what choices you can make about your mindset.  What bothers me so much that my heart aches is that I find myself very short of patience with my kids.  Both Aspen and Jarrah are exceptional children, complete with manners, hearts of gold and the very best of intentions.  It is clear to see that all they want is to earn my love and Paul’s admiration.  But when I have a hypo nipping at my heels constantly for over 12 hours I get frustrated at the slightest ‘inconvenience’ and I lose sight of their amazing attributes…. and those ‘inconveniences’ are usually just my beautiful kids being beautiful.

Jarrah was trying to do the right thing and put his mug of unfinished milk back in the fridge, but he misjudged the distance to the shelf and spilt it.  Enter crazy MummaKim violently waving a wad of paper towel.

Aspen was practicing her cheer leading routine in the bathroom in preparation for a State Competition in a few weeks.  I found myself scolding her for doing it in a such a dangerous space with a hard floor.  All she wanted was a good mirror to correct her technique.

I am so very fortunate that my kids are made of the tough stuff.  They are resilient, loving, adorable and supportive of me at my weakest, (or lowest) moments each in their own individual ways.  I can only hope that they will recover as well as I do from my hypos.

An unexpected paradigm shift about being 1type1

Last week I had a massive paradigm shift, only it wasn’t like the others I have experienced.  Usually they lift my spirit and enlighten me to a point where life almost takes on a new meaning.  But this one was unexpected and, at the time, it turned my stomach inside out.  After deep reflection, I decided to not let the emotions be wasted and instead turned it into a learning experience.  Going through this roundabout, I have taken a different exit than originally planned and I’m okay with where I’m headed.

Aspen Sushi iPod TouchMy daughter, Aspen has been screened for type 1 diabetes markers through the INIT II Trial every year since age five.  I launched my blog with a piece about her first screening.  I have since written about how every now and again I am reminded that she may be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at any given moment.  Like I was.  Without warning or preparation.

What I haven’t been prepared for is Aspen having her own opinion about participating in research relating to my type 1 diabetes.  Even as I typed that sentence I realise just how ridiculous I sound; of course she can have her own opinion!  Of course we let her have her own opinion and make her own age appropriate decisions.

These thoughts were sparked by Aspen’s most recent response to my relaxed suggestion that it’s time to order the paperwork from the brilliant team at Royal Melbourne Hospital to get her screened again.  I didn’t even realise that silent tears began to roll down her rosy cheeks.  My back was turned as I was preparing dinner.  When I heard a little sob I rushed over to find out what had upset her.  The last thing on my mind was the trial.  I thought BobCat had snuck in a cheeky scratch at her leg under the bench, or something to that effect.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  Aspen got upset at the thought of the pain of the blood test.  So I sat down with her and we talked about the entire exercise, including the three or four seconds of pain the she may experience when the needle goes in her arm.  Needless to say, my bright and beautiful daughter resolved her fears and we are headed for the collection centre on Friday, Elma Patches at the ready!

My thoughts across that night and the following days surprised me on a level I’m still struggling to communicate.  I made one very simple realisation.  My type 1 diabetes is mine.  Not Aspen’s.  Not Jarrah’s.  Until Paul and I think the kids are old enough to make a decision about participating in the trial or not, with a clear understanding of the impact of both options, it will be our decision.  But that’s really only a decision based on their age and their developmental stage.  This chronic illness that I have embraced and drawn every positive opportunity out of is mine and mine alone.  I need to be prepared for my kids to not want to be a part of that journey in the future.

I have been reminded that type 1 diabetes belongs to me.

I take responsibility for it.

I make of it what I want.

No one can take that away from me.

I need to give my kids the same opportunity to make choices about their lives, their health and their wellbeing.

I am the 1type1 in my family.

What’s in a name, Mummy?

I wanted to share a gorgeous stage that my son, Jarrah is going through. Being 22 months old, his language skills are developing at a very rapid rate. In the past three weeks, he has progressed from using sounds to represent items or actions, to stringing together two and three word sentences. Amazingly, he is also able inject a bit of humour into the task and mispronounce certain words, just to make us laugh. And boy do we laugh… so the encouragement to continue is there!

Jarrah enjoying a milk drink... and being cheeky!

Jarrah enjoying a milk drink… and being cheeky!

Up until very recently, Jarrah hadn’t called me Mum or Mummy. On the quiet, I did get a little upset. He had managed “Daddy” for Paul, “Big Sissy” and “Appy” for Aspen, and “Bobba” for BobCat, (the family cat). Sometimes he was calling me Daddy. I honestly thought that Mummy was supposed to be one the easiest and first words a child would say. Especially over Big Sissy and Bobba! I also expected that Jarrah would say Mummy first because Aspen did. And in fact, she called Paul, “Two Mummies” for a time. That was my biggest mistake; I developed an expectation. If there is one thing I have learnt about parenting, it’s to suspend the desire to have expectations of your children.


About four months ago, Jarrah called me, “Mumper”.

To any person who is not familiar with the world of diabetes, this will mean nothing but a confusion of letters in a child’s language development. But to those who are, it may make a little sense. Especially women who have diabetes, an insulin pump and children.

Jarrah had merged “Mummy” and “Pumper”. I can only imagine he did that because that was how he saw me and it was my point of difference from the other people close to his heart. From the very beginning of his glorious life, I have allowed him to explore my insulin pump when ever he wanted to and it was convenient. Paul and I pride ourselves on helping to create awareness of my diabetes in our children. Diabetes is not going away any time soon, so we figure the sooner they understand things like the fact that jelly beans are a treatment and not a lolly in our house, the better.

I am, however, quite happy to report that he called me Mummy the other day! And then proceeded to ask to see my Pumper, also.

It was a timely reminder that my husband and children have never known me without my diabetes tagging along. And for the first time in my life, I actually don’t think it’s such a bad thing. I’m getting the hang of demanding that diabetes makes an about-face and helps to create positivity in my life.

In our lives.