Carb Counting Queen

  When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, one of the hardest things was learning to count carbs. It took me by surprise the places where carbs could be found and sometimes where I thought they would be, magically there were none. Who would have thought that a small apple, a slice of bread and a Cadbury’s Flake all had the same carb value?  I know they are not as healthy as each other but a really healthy dinner can be offset with a nice bit of chocolate at the end! It works for us anyway!

I was determined to keep the family meals as close to normal as possible although it did often feel like this cartoon when it came to working out the combined carbs of the 7 ingredients in the meal divided by the number of people eating it.

I wrote this poem after a couple of crazy weeks when I was thrown in the deep end. Sometimes you just have to laugh!


Peace keeping force

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If Kofi Annan ever needs a holiday, I am well equipped to stand in for a few days!

It’s 6.30 am as I exit my bedroom, lick my finger and hold it up. Which way will the wind be blowing today?

Should I make a pre-emptive strike and whip up a batch of pancake mix to soothe away the worries about the week ahead OR will I grab the BG meter and a finger wipe and run into the first room, gently wake my sleeping child and run to the shower before any rumbles begin? 

There is no failsafe way to predict how the week will begin! There really is no method of avoiding the rumbles and grumbles, the sore stomachs and the head aches (real or imagined – how am I to know the difference?), the request for a day at home or the need to whack a passing brother with any object to express the all too real frustration with the world.

I opt for the latter, more cowardly, approach. I stop to watch for the rise and fall of that boyish chest, release the tension from within myself and am soon under the cleansing jets of the shower, hoping that all three boys are up and there isn’t a war going on in my kitchen.

False cheer is my go to mood as I enter the battle field dressed for work and war paint on! I hope it’s infectious and catching! I don’t quite hear all the pleas and plough on regardless until everyone becomes more pleasant. Gradually unforms are put on and lunches are prepared. My bag is packed and I’m ready to go! Victory!

I painted my nails today.

I painted my nails today and every time I set up my little manicure set and get out my glossy little bottles of paint, I think back to when my son was diagnosed.

The smell of nail varnish remover was so strong in the house yet I couldn’t even find the little bottle I had bought some years earlier when I tried to stop biting my nails. I decided it was a sign to start growing my nails. I can hear what you’re thinking: didn’t I know that it was the smell of ketones in my son’s body? Why would I? Luckily after a few days of growing my nails I noticed he was going to the toilet a lot and was really thirsty. These two symptoms I did know to be signs of Type 1 diabetes.

It’s my precious little ritual, a moment of girl-time in a house full of testosterone. I look at the rainbow of colours and prepare myself for the week ahead. A strong base is created, with drying time allowed between the application of two coats of whichever colour reflects my mood and possible wardrobe for the week ahead. Little cotton buds are soaked in acetone, ready to quickly catch mistakes. Sometimes they are needed, other times the application process is steady and smooth. I finish it off with a top coat which ensures my finger nails will survive the week ahead.

My hands are not perfect. Who knew hands got wrinkly as you aged? There are scars and lumps and bumps but they are my hands and the nails that top them off are strong and resilient.

We were congratulated on how early we had caught the symptoms but as I paint my nails over 17 months later, I crave the days of my stumpy little finger nails.

Mum of type 1


Why this name? I am the mum of three boofy boys and the wife of a very patient man whose lives were gate-crashed in December 2013 by a new family member: Type 1 Diabetes! Ever since then it feels like there’s a 6th member of our clan. He takes up a lot of space in my brain.

So now I’m the mum of Type 1 too! My son handles Type 1 pretty well. We have all the usual fights and arguments that a mum of a 14 year old would expect to have. Situation ‘horribly normal’!

I know it’s my son who has Type 1, not me! I am completely clear about that. I also know that he does not spend his day worried about his diabetes. He lives the life of every other 14 year old boy: it just takes a lot more organisation for him. There is no denying that having a child diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes throws your world into a spin.

My own family lives far away so when this first happened it felt even harder. I used to walk in the morning before work to try to clear my head. I’d always done this and found it was my sanity in the early days. I wanted my family to understand how I felt and what we were going through. Words swirled around in my head as I pounded the streets and before I knew what I was doing, I wrote it down and it soon became my first poem. It’s a while since I wrote this poem and I can feel how sad I was when I read it now. It was my therapy and helped me understand my feelings.