Neither fish nor fowl

As things currently stand, I find myself in a grey area with regards to my son (and his Type 1 Diabetes). I don’t have a name for it but it reminds me of when I lived in Italy in my twenties and an older lady I worked with described her son in his late teens as ‘né pesce, né carne’ ( in English we say ‘neither fish nor fowl’) to describe that ‘in between’ state in which my son currently finds himself. This stuck in my head as a weird expression but now I totally get it and wish I could go back and have a chat with that woman.

My son is growing but not grown.

He is gaining independence but not independent.

He is both a man and a boy.

He knows everything and nothing.

He yearns for freedom but needs boundaries.

The fact that he can drive but only has Ls sums it up!

Where does this leave me? I have been there with dogged determination every step of the way since his diagnosis four years ago. He is fairly independent and he can manage his diabetes well. He knows how to calculate his insulin doses and work out the carbs in his food. He knows the impact of sport and how to adjust for this. He can go out for the day and I am not concerned.

We have a lovely way of communicating via text when face to face convos are just too emotional and hard because it does get hard. There has been no running away from that this year. Technology has helped us and some days as I sit at my desk at work and he sits on the school bus we have a beautiful little written dialogue where we let go of the worries and anger that can start off the day and we both then move on feeling much better.

He has just got on a plane to Victoria where he will play in a cricket competition for the next week. I am feeling confident that this will go well. He will focus on the important thing- cricket!

This confidence is backed up with the knowledge that the Diabetes Educator trained the two staff on the trip. There has been information exchanged by me with the family where my son will stay and he will be woken by them at 3am each day to check his Blood Glucose Levels.

He has now started his last year at school. It’s a weird system in New South Wales, Australia. The first term of the final year of school starts before the summer holidays so he has hit the ground running for his final year. This time next year, School will be over just like it is for his big brother who is currently on a ‘gap year’ to recover from the huge amount of study of the final year of School. Guffaws of laughter were heard when this idea was muted but we do get it and will be encouraging our other two boys to do the same thing.

What is my role now?

I feel like I am on the side lines: the linesman. No longer the referee on the field, making the big decisions. I watch from outside the action, intervening only when strictly required. Sometimes I let things go but at other times I need to come down hard. It is quite clear that I am now an observer rather than a participant. I am also a partisan linesman! I actively support too! I will not allow foul play and I will protect my boy with my very being. Do not mess with me!

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Acronyms for parents of kids with Type 1 Diabetes Part 1

We can be funky too! There are so many funny acronyms out there. They are constantly evolving and a reflection of the world around us. This got me thinking about how parents of young people with Type 1 Diabetes should have their own set of acronyms.

So many acronyms start with FO (Fear of). So where do we start?

FOS-Fear of Sleepovers. There is no fear of missing out (FOMO) in this house as my son does everything but I do worry when he has sleepovers. He is bright and sensible but he is also a teenager and I have learnt that I cannot always rely on others to be there for him. All this said, he has had lots of sleepovers and lives to tell the tale. In order to deal with my FOS, I have become a …

HOS – Host of Sleepovers. Yes, don’t you just love it after a week of work! Teenagers raiding your stash of chips and biscuits, and messing up your house. But, your child is home and happy so it’s all worthwhile!

FOBNO- Fear of Big Nights Out. Moving on from sleepovers, my boy is now hitting the party scene with all its fun and temptations. Why shouldn’t he? We have run through scenarios on what to do in different situations. We have driven many kilometres at godawful hours of the night, dodged kangaroos on country roads, been a total embarrassment in unattractive night attire, so we can pick him up and bring him home to sleep in his own bed.

Now onto Love!

LAHOS -Love and Hatred of Sport. That familiar feeling of wanting your child to be sporty and active but knowing with certainly that the start of a new sporting season heralds crazy blood glucose levels, extra checks done during the night while insulin levels are adjusted and the need to be ultra organised when packing for a sporting event.

LODE- Love of Diabetes Educator. We are so lucky and as my boy grows so does his appreciation of what this amazing lady does for us. She is our guardian angel, has seen us at our best and worst but never judges or makes us feel anything but special.

WDD- Worry Deep Down. We learn to live in the present, enjoying what we are doing yet supporting the gnawing presence of WDD. It’s an amazing skill I have observed in parents of kids with particular health issues. We are the ultimate multi taskers. We can LOL and WDD at the same time.

The most common acronyms are universal when related to diabetes. Constantly living with NFI not knowing WTF is coming next!

Sourdough, Simplicity and Sisterhood.

I’ve been learning how to make sourdough and slowing down enough to enjoy the steps involved has given me lots of thinking time.

There’s a real simplicity to the process which would have frustrated the hell out of me a couple of years ago but I am enjoying it. If I rush, I get it wrong and the sourdough does not work out. I keep the starter in the fridge and on days when I’m not making a loaf, I try to remember to feed this precious starter in order to keep it alive and thriving.

I wake up at crazy times, hoping that the proofing process has worked its magic overnight and that the dough has risen nicely. It’s the best way to start the day. I put the oven on, heat up the cast iron pot in the oven and a bowl of water on the oven floor to create the atmosphere which results in the perfect crunchy crust. 

It’s a very low tech procedure which modern technology has not replaced. It seems to thrive on the love and care! Am I turning into some crazy old hippy?

All this puts me in mind of parenting! The other word for the starter is the ‘mother’. Those who are into making sourdough guard their ‘mother’ with care. Some have been on the go for generations, feeding entire families for decades  I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

The mother must be nurtured and cared for or the bread will not work and what is produced will become inedible.

I am nurturing three teenage sons. This requires a lot of effort, consistency and care to produce the desired results: good men! I need to be on form for this to happen. If I am not taking care of myself then I cannot look after my boys. 

As part of what I do, I am the mum of an almost 17 year old son who has Type 1 Diabetes. Whilst his brothers are equally loved, there is an extra element of care needed here. It is what it is! He takes care of himself and I’m looking ahead and trying to envisage a time when he leaves home. In the meantime, I am catching a few early morning lows as I get up to put on the oven and the thinly sliced sourdough and egg combo that we’re having for brekie seems to be agreeing with his bgls. That’s what we call a win, win!

The Diabetes Australia #WDD2017 campaign #SuperSHEroStrong caught my eye today just as I was kneading my sourdough and so I would like to send my love, my thoughts and a whole heap of sassy sisterhood out to all the women in the diabetes community: those who have diabetes, and those who support others with diabetes too!

Pizza, positivity and perfect peace.

I haven’t written for a while. Why not? 

Life is busy and life is GOOD!

When I write this blog, I keep the personal details about my son out of it and focus on things from my perspective. He doesn’t even know about this blog and I know he would find it all a bit icky! It’s not that it’s a big secret but I really don’t think he’d be very interested. One day I might show him this blog and I would hate for him to be embarrassed or feel that I’d revealed too much about him. So, I keep personal details vague which can make it difficult to write.

With this in mind, what can I tell you about why we are going through this positive and peaceful period?

My boy has Type 1 diabetes but he has and is so many other things at the moment and my heart is bursting with pride! I love it when  his diabetes doesn’t follow me around like a cloud and is most definitely not the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning! Long may this last! 

So how is my boy doing?

He is going quite well at school. A bit of a cheeky chappy at times but I kinda like that, as it will be a character strength that serves him well going into the future. He was encouraged to apply for leadership positions for his senior year and is currently doing that. I don’t even care if he gets a role but his teachers saw something in him that demonstrated leadership.  I am so grateful for that! He was blown away to hear this praise from a couple of amazing male teachers who are top role models for young boys. None of them really know the work my son puts in, the 121 decisions he has to make about his diabetes every day (I’ve never forgotten reading that statistic), and they certainly don’t see him as a victim. My son is very private about his diabetes so only some very special teachers have had a glimpse into this other part of his world.

He has a girlfriend and I’m trying not to explode with happiness. She is all I’d dreamt that his first serious girlfriend would be. They are clearly besotted with each other and they are having fun. They laugh, giggle and talk so much. She is wanting to learn about his diabetes and asks lots of questions. I’m trying not to have a total mum crush on her as, in the House of Testosterone, some female company is just lovely.

He has a part-time job which he likes. He has moved from one fast food place to another one just across the road. This one is so much better. His diabetes was spoken about at the interview and was totally not an issue. It’s actually a permanent part time job which means he has rights! He will even get sick pay and holiday leave. Can you believe it?

We have emerged from quite a tough year! The first few months of the year were very scary for me, as his mum. I could see he was struggling with this whole diabetes gig and just wanted it to be gone. We are so lucky to have an amazing CDE and paediatrician who helped us through this.

My own health was up and down recently. I’d been experiencing some stomach issues which are now on their way to being fixed. I hadn’t realised how awful I’d been feeling until I started to feel better. Currently I’m being quite selfish and can often be found binging on a Netflix series or curled up with a book. I’m focusing on my health and currently thinking about fermenting vegetables and making bone broth to help my stomach heal. Whilst this does not fill me with joy, to balance it up, I’m enjoying coming up with new toppings for the pizzas which go in our newly installed pizza oven. 

So there you have it! I’m quietly celebrating this calm after the storm.

Hello, I give you my son’s heart and his non functioning pancreas. Please treat both with care!


Hello, you don’t know me but I know that you know my boy. You two spend hours on snapchat and messenger chatting about who knows what. I know there have been face to face meetings too. I think it’s time we had a chat! 

Here is a little questionnaire I’d love you to complete. Don’t look alarmed! It’s all cool!

Part A) Stand on one foot and answer the following questions whilst hopping:

– 24 + 57 + 63 + 82, then divide by 2, then divide by 15. Got that? Good girl! 

– 29 + 81 + 12 + 75, then divide by 3, then divide by 15. Still going? Well done! You may proceed to Part B.

Part B) How deep a sleeper are you? How many hours sleep do you average and do you wake up to alarms? Please write your answer in the space provided below.

Part C) Do you prefer routine or have more of a devil may care attitude to life? Think back over the last week please and write down the times at which you ate breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Part D) Imagine you had a cute boyfriend. For easiness sake let’s call him ‘son of mumoftype1’! A bit of a mouthful, I know but bear with me please! Imagine this boy suddenly collapsed. Which number would you call? 

Part E) If this boy felt brave enough to tell you that he had a medical condition called Type 1 diabetes, how would you respond? Circle your preferred response.

– nod your head and ask a few simple questions.

– say “that’s what my best friend’s uncle had and he died.”

– run

Part F) If you have made it this far, you are a keeper and I ask only one thing of you. Please don’t break his heart! 

Times they are a changing as the song says! I am really enjoying seeing my boys turn into men but I have suddenly become aware of how important a role potential girlfriends may have. Excuse my tongue in cheek look at this! 

And then there’s this.

Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 – May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

I’ve found it really hard to write this post today. I nearly didn’t write one. I am by nature, a positive person, who generally doesn’t dwell on emotional issues.

I want to be the poster mum! I want to say that I’ve got my shit together and my life with a child with Type 1 diabetes, whilst challenging, is rewarding. The reality is, it depends when you ask. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the right to be sad. I don’t have Type 1 Diabetes. It’s my big, beautiful 16 year old, middle son who does. But, I am his mum. I love him with every fibre of my being and this is the one thing since he was born that I cannot fix.

About a month ago, it felt like I was spiralling into sadness. You can read about that here if you feel like it. I recognise now that it’s part of this gig as a parent of a child with diabetes. We celebrate the amazing victories our children have but sometimes we need to sit with the sadness and recognise that it is hard and the future we dreamt for our children may not be exactly how we had imagined it to be.

A big part of it, for me, is down to the numbers. They dominate my life and can be a barometer for how I feel. As the meter is checked daily, I feel my mood change. A line of beautiful, in range numbers and I could pop a bottle of champagne.

The reality is, at the moment, that it is a rare occurrence. Between trying to avoid hypos at school,  growth spurts, the impact of sport on BGLs, remembering to rotate injection sites, levels spiking due to school exams, imperfect carb counting (not my judgment-  does my boy really have to weigh every banana? Can’t he just see that it’s small and he knows how to work it out accordingly? The degree of precision requested is not going to happen), hurried calculation of insulin doses when it’s lunch and recess at school and my boy is in a hurry to get going, eat and go do whatever teenage boys do.

We have a great team supporting him. Our CDE is lovely, totally gets how hard this is, never judges, is the best advocate for my son, and listens to what he says. We have access to a dietitian, see a fab paediatrician and endocrinologist.

Have our big endo clinic next week and I hate it. There, I’ve said it! I know the hba1c is going to be higher. I know we have done all we can to avoid this. I know there is a chance that they will want to take my big, beautiful boy into hospital to help work out what is going on and I’m crying as I write this at the thought of how he might react to that.

It’s Thursday morning in Australia. Monday and Tuesday, my son’s levels were pretty in range, even though he had a sore throat and runny nose. Yay! I felt like super mum as I danced around the kitchen making dinner. Tuesday night, the same. How good is this? Wednesday night, big zig zags today! I leave it for a few hours then ask my son how school was. Talk about the normal stuff, I wait a bit then ask him how his levels were. He looks at me and says, “Not so good”.  Have a quick chat, the same one we have on days like these and we still don’t know why the zig or the zag. And there it is folks, the mood changer.

Diabetes does not define my son, his diabetes does not define me. Yet………

The big, shiny sunshine in the midst of all this is the Diabetes Online Community.  This great family of people all across the world who just get it! I am so immensely grateful to those who read this, who nod their heads, who feel compassion, who empathise with what my little family in a small town in Australia is living through.

Mission Accepted : The (Re)quest for a Replacement Blood Glucose Meter- Diabetes Blog Week – Day 3

The Blame Game – Wednesday 5/17

Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another. And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault. Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger. Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had. Now, the game part. Let’s turn this around. If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself? Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us! 

This is a blog post I wrote a while ago but I have relived this conversation again recently.


Background: 15 year old boy with Type 1 diabetes. Great kid with two settings: sloth and clumsy giraffe on speed. There is no way to predict which setting is in operation at any moment.

Motivation: Two Blood Glucose Meters which both, within a space of a week, show signs of not being reliable. This is not wonderful when your son has Type 1 diabetes. A call to the helpline will surely be able to fix this? 

Setting the scene: Your lunch break is 45 minutes. Mobile reception at your work is dodgy to say the least so calls have to be made from a phone in the middle of a busy staffroom. There is a tiny surface, about the area of a phone directory, where you can balance a notebook or iPad if you need info for your call.

Reality: 35 minutes spent in a queue. You do not have lunch as you didn’t think to bring your sandwich to the phone. You did not fit in a quick loo stop before you got on the phone and you are teaching for the full afternoon. A miracle occurs: you make it to the front of the queue and your call is answered.

Main characters

1) aforementioned high school teacher, starving hungry, in need of a wee and slightly on edge in case the Blood Glucose Meter her son took to school stops working.

2) extremely patronising lady who has clearly done a training module on how to talk with empathy to harassed customers.

Dialogue:(assume we have run through five minutes of privacy statement, details of child, various other details which we go through each and every time we call, serial numbers on the back of each meter in the tiniest font have been supplied, as you were smart enough in the middle of your son’s hypo that morning to remember to take a picture of the back of his 2nd meter and you even manage to simultaneously hold down two buttons on the meter on the tiniest ledge imaginable so as to be able to give the details of the error codes.)

Teacher: ‘Yay, finally a human! You are a human right? Great! My son has two of your meters and both appear to be playing up. On one meter, he repeatedly gets a message that the drop of blood is not big enough when it very clearly is whereas the other emits a strange squeaking noise when the cassette rotates.’

Lady – ‘Let me run through the method you and your son are using. No, please don’t stop me even if you think you know what you are doing, it’s amazing how often people are doing the wrong thing and your son has gone through a large number of meters which really does make me wonder.’

Slightly narky teacher– ‘We have been through this so many times that I could do your speech for you and I now only have 5 minutes left so can you please just put through the order for two new meters and I promise I will send back the old meters. Yes, my son is a teenage boy and so may not be the most precise and careful creature but he does care about his diabetes and having correct results. No, putting his meter in a little tub would not be an option as he carries it in his pocket when he goes from class to class. Yes, I will suggest that he treats his meters with great care and does not launch his school bag across rooms or sit on his bag if his meter is in it. Now about those new meters, are you going to send them?

Accusatory Lady: ‘Have you been following the correct procedure for inserting new cassettes and also do you follow our cleaning instructions from the back page of the manual ? Let me talk you through exactly what that is and you can follow on the meter you have with you. 

Defensive teacher: ‘For the love of God, can I have two new meters or not? I now have one minute left, I have nothing left to say to you. Are you understanding how stressful this is? I would love it if my son changed to another type of meter as I think there are better models than yours for him but he wants this type as he is comfortable with how it works. He has diabetes, not me, so I am respecting his wishes but, tell me now, are you going to send me two replacement meters as I need to go?’

Placatory Lady in a voice dripping with syrup : ‘I totally understand what you are saying and I will be sending you out two new meters with the understanding that you follow the correct procedure when changing the cassette and you promise me that you will frequently utilise the cleaning method using the cotton bud which we discussed earlier.’

Sarcastic teacher: ‘Thank you so much for your help, I look forward to receiving the meters and will ensure all protocols in relation to cassette changing and cleaning will be followed with the utmost care and attention. There’s the bell. I have to go!’

If there had been a concrete wall in front of me at that moment, I swear I would have found great comfort in repeatedly head butting it until I drew blood but instead, I picked up my bag and headed to my class, ignoring my rumbling stomach. I keep reliving that conversation and wondering if I should have done it differently.

OK, NOW FOR THE FUN PART! LET’S TURN THIS CONVERSATION ON ITS HEAD!

Set the scene: 2 unreliable BGL meters, one teacher, one service centre lady.

Phone rings three times and is answered by a lady with a calm, understanding voice who simultaneously manages not to sound patronising. 

Lady: Hi, how can I help you?

Teacher: Hello, my son’s two BGL meters are unreliable and I’m worried about his using them. Would you be able to sent me two replacements please?

Lovely Lady: Sure, please give me the code on the meters….. ok, that’s great, I’ve got all his info here. Is there any feedback that you would like to give me about why these meters might be unreliable? We are always striving to improve and it must be very stressful for you to feel like your son isn’t safe.

Grateful teacher: Look, it’s hard to say. He is a teenager and this is a delicate piece of equipment. I don’t want to blame anyone. I just need two replacements.

Wonderful Lady: Not a problem. I will get them both sent off to you tomorrow. I can see your son has had diabetes for a few years so I’m sure you both know what you are doing. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you?

Ecstatic teacher: That’s perfect, unless you happen to have three teenage girls who may be looking for a life partner in a few years. You sound like a great woman!

Future mother in law of my sons: Sadly not! I too am the mother of three teenage boys. The struggle is real!

THAT WAS FUN! IT’S GREAT TO DREAM!