Celebrating being average!


I am average, my kids are average, most of my life is fairly average and I commit to celebrating this! We need to celebrate the average! Why is being average frowned upon and overlooked when that is what most of us are? This is my own personal protest cry for common humanity! 

I have three fantastic kids who are average and I am not ashamed of that. I hold my head up high and I love them with every ounce of my being. They go to school and do all their work, they play multiple sports, they have friends and people tell me they are lovely, polite boys. Why should I be made to feel that this is not enough? 

There is such pressure on our children to excel at everything or at the very least at something. Why are we not content to be what we are?  I see friends putting their primary school aged kids into tutoring to try and pull up their grades. These kids do their regular homework, then plough through the revision sheets issued by tutors. Their haunted little faces pain me as they are drilled to within an inch of their lives and have such high expectations put upon them to always do better. What skill set do they need to have for their future lives? Are they going to be astrophysicists or elite athletes? Why do we always seem to demand more and more of our children when they are already giving us their best effort but the results are ‘only’ average?

I certainly do not mean that kids should not excel. If your kid is in the gifted and talented category, good on them but for the love of God, please stop dropping that into the conversation! I get it you are proud and so you should be but I am equally as proud of my three children. I have tried to help each of my boys find something they can be passionate about. For them it is sport, in various shapes and sizes. 

I have decided to withdraw from this pressure! It feels so liberating but it is hard and I do need to keep myself in constant check. 

What caused me to rethink? 

Three years ago, my middle boy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. His life and our lives changed and numbers took on a far more significant role. Every day, my son checks his blood glucose levels multiple times, we calculate the number of carbs he is going to eat and from that the insulin dose he injects is calculated. He is growing and is very sporty so these calculations are constantly changed and modified in order to try to keep his levels in the sweet 4 to 8 mmol (72mg-144mg) range. Every three months an average is taken and we find out the results of the all important HbA1c. I’m sure many people (and/or their parents) with Type 1 Diabetes would acknowledge a certain nervousness when they are about to get this magic number. 

The night before this result is given, I feel sick and cannnot help but think back over the previous three months. We try so hard to keep those blood glucose levels in range, but real life gets in the way. Sport, illness and being human all interfere and I lie in bed picturing a big  zig zag with high highs and low lows. My son tries his hardest and so do we as his support team. It doesn’t matter what that number is, there is nothing we could have done differently.

When school reports arrive in the middle of a life full of numbers, it really makes me think. Don’t the same things, sport, illness and being human, impact on these school results? Yes they do and so I commit to stressing less about grades and results and as long as we are all trying as hard as we can most of the time then that is absolutely good enough!

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I am an insulin pen

I am no ordinary pen.
My story is written in the veins of those whom I save every day.
There is no ink in me.
I push insulin through my nib into the flesh of those who need me.
Hands grasp me, dial up the dose required and plunge me into their flesh,
Multiple times of every day of every week of every year.
My needle pierces the skin, bringing a sting of pain.
Some consider me inferior, as technology could easily replace me
Yet
I am loved by many for my lack of intrusiveness and for the comfort of knowing that I will never let them down.
I have hidden strength in my little vial and never forget this.
Treat me with disdain and I can take you down.
Love me, handle me with care and attention.
Because of me, people lead lives both ordinary and amazing.
This is the gift I give.
The rest is up to you.



King of the Road

Our eldest two boys are only 17 months apart in age. It’s almost like having twins. 

We live in New South Wales, Australia. When you learn to drive here, you firstly do a computer based theory test to make sure you have the knowledge of the rules of the road. You can do this as soon as you turn 16, get your Learner licence then you have the minimum of a year in which to do 120 hours of driving practise. Once you have turned 17 and have done  your 120 hours, you can sit your practical test in a car with an examiner and then you gain your P plates which allow you to drive alone (with some other restrictions on speed, passengers and alcohol consumption thrown in to keep you safe). Got that?

Our eldest got his Ps last year and has now gained the nickname Über. After surviving 120 hours in the car with him, he owes his loving parents a few lifts here and there.

Onto number two child, with the added complication of Type 1 Diabetes thrown in. 

Number 1: 

Getting your L’s – a letter is required from an endocrinologist or paediatrician. A sight test is needed here and, from what I can understand, this letter basically lets the authorities know that the person has controlled diabetes. From what I’ve understood, this letter is required to be submitted every year. How and where I have yet to figure out.

Number 2:

Working out the rules around driving with Type 1 diabetes. You would assume that the Roads and Maritime Services who issue the Learner’s licence would be able to tell you that. Wrong! After googling myself into a zombie like state #OzDoc came to the rescue. Serendipity is a wonderful thing as the topic on the Tuesday night #OzDoc twitter chat was driving. I was given advice on how to help my son with hypos and driving, the documents we needed to read and so much more. How amazing is it to be in rural NSW where you don’t really know anyone else with Type 1 diabetes and be able to quickly get the advice you need to help your child.

Number 3: 

Navigating the numbers. The first couple of hours of practise went well. My boy is a natural and unlike the first few outings with his big brother, I did not swear once!  It’s been so lovely to spend one on one time with him driving around our beautiful area, whilst chatting. When it came to the third time going out, he checked his BGL and was 4.8. What to have? 

There was no advice quickly available online about how to get that level up to 5.0 without pushing it too high in the other direction. A fast acting hypo treatment seems to go against all we had ever done, given that this 4.8 was in the lovely normal range. I puzzled over this then asked on twitter what to do. Several lovely tweets with suggestions came back and from those, my son’s preference is to have a freddo frog. Good choice!

The next day was accompanied with an unexpected hypo just as we were about to go out. Things suddenly felt more complicated. Have a hypo treatment, wait till the level comes up to 5.0 then wait half an hour and check again. This took 45 minutes and the window of opportunity to drive had closed.

Number 4:

Finding a sympathetic driving instructor. Actually, this turned out not to be such a hard thing. We had used this instructor for our eldest child and knew he was a good man. I sent him a text to book in our second son and let him know he had Type 1 diabetes. I sent him the link to the NDSS document ‘Above 5 to Drive’. 

A short while later, I received this text: ‘Had a read of the link and thanks for the info . I will take care of him and tell him to always say if there’s a problem. And if he ever needs to cancel, even if I’m at the house, it’s all good with me and tell him never worry 😊’. Wow, wow and wow! Imagine a world where this was the normal reaction to Type 1 Diabetes.

Ok, 4 hours done, 116 to go!

What I’d love to write to my son’s school

Hey

Yes it’s me again. The one whose eye you very carefully avoided when you saw me at school the other day. For your information, I didn’t even want to talk to you. I was there with another of my children. It was their moment. I respect that and so should you.

I know you saw me. I’m aware that you consider me to be a pain in the arse and quite frankly, I don’t give a flying duck!

Since my child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago, I’ve become an advocate for his rights. I have to because you don’t really look after his needs and I know for a fact that there are several other students at his school with Type 1 diabetes. I wonder if you treat them with the same disdain? 

I have never once been rude when I’ve approached you. I am direct as I’ve given up on the subtlety I previously favoured (see here)

Is it really that much to ask that the diabetes educator be allowed to come and talk to all the staff once a year? Can’t you schedule it in to one of the staff meetings? I find it incredibly rude that every single year I have to make multiple requests, with increasing forcefulness, before it is finally done. 

Last year, I ran out of energy and guess what? No visit from the educator! 

I have three children at your school and because of your lack of ability to deal with training, I have to be the one to send my child’s emergency care plan to teachers when there is an excursion. This doesn’t bother me but, as a consequence, I feel judged and I often don’t contact the school when there are issues with my other children, as I don’t want to be seen as ‘one of those parents’. That bothers me at times! 

I would not send them to this school if I didn’t believe it offered a good education and that most of the teachers really do care about the students, so come on! Step up and shoulder your responsibility in this!

In one of our conversations, you told me my child needed to speak up when he was in trouble with his diabetes. This phrase haunts me in rare dark moments and tells me you do not understand what happens to someone who, for whatever reason, and often through no fault of their own, has blood sugar levels which are very low or very high. I wonder what needs to happen before you realise? That is the question that rolls around my brain when I send off my child to your care.

It has, however, felt really wonderful to get this off my chest!

Yours,

Resting bitch face

Heroes can be gloriously everyday and wonderfully ordinary

Today I read the following blog from Insulin Nation. It really made me think, as this great site so often does. Have a click and see what you think. I love articles like this which make me question what I do. This article, from what I understand, discusses the idea of diabetes heroes and conquering warriors and how these images may have a negative impact on those who struggle with this condition.

From my perspective, it all comes down to how you define a hero.

The success of  beyond type 1 all across the globe, and in particular their Instagram campaign,  highlight the need for everyday heroes. It fills me with joy to read about all the people who have Type 1 and the things they do. These are people with whom I can often identify. I see my son in many of them and I love it! 

I am the parent of a 16 year old boy with diabetes. It is complex raising a child with Type 1 diabetes. Our aim has always been that diabetes would not stop my son doing anything. I honestly do not believe that his diabetes has stopped him doing any thing. That is what I believe is heroic.  I need my boy to see the length and breadth of his future and the endless possibilities which are open to him. It’s my job to sweat the nitty gritty of how this will be done and work with him and our team to figure out a way. He has days when he feels awful, when no matter what he does, however carefully he counts his carbs and measures his insulin doses, things just do not go his way. He does not dwell on these so neither do I. 

I don’t need to see elite athletes or super stars doing things, although it does give me a weird thrill when I find out that someone famous has Type 1 diabetes. James Norton, the extremely gorgeous actor from Granchester is one example.

Being heroic for me doesn’t not mean that my son conquers Type 1 Diabetes: it means that he lives a full and happy life despite having this condition. 

Being heroic means accepting the shit that goes along with this and doing what you need to do. No one is a loser if this doesn’t always go smoothly. Getting through two hypos and getting yourself out in the garden to smash your brothers at cricket is the example I am looking at through the window as I type.

Being heroic means feeling scared, knowing all the negatives that the media constantly presents and keeping going despite this knowledge. 

Being heroic doesn’t need to be big and amazing. It can be gloriously everyday and wonderfully ordinary. That’s what makes it beautiful! 

Veni, Vidi, Lusi, Vici 


Veni, Vidi, Lusi , Vici- I came, I saw, I played, I won!

 If my son had a Latin motto it would be this! Julius Caesar take a back seat! 

There is none so fierce as a 16 year old boy determined to play cricket like a pro.  A flight was taken to another time zone.  Night time lows and day time highs were navigated with unintrusive help. Carbs were counted pretty successfully. The results of each game (read ‘battle’) were dissected on the side of the field.  Whilst cricketing tactics were openly discussed, my boy waged a silent campaign.  

He fought off heat, then cold. He made intricate decisions based on activity levels. The war, however, was not won by type 1 diabetes. My boy owned his diabetes and he dominated it!   He took a big step towards independence. The team performed well in a tough pool but the actual results of the games don’t really matter as the real victor is safely tucked up in his bed, back home with us, smiling to himself and reliving  moments of glory on the field.

Diabetes Queen  Mothers 

Diabetes Queen Mother

When your child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it is the loneliest feeling in the world! For me, it was the first time that I couldn’t wave my magic maternal wand and make something nasty and unwanted disappear. Other than health professionals (who can be amazing) there is generally no one to tell you what to do or help you help your child. Whilst it is your child who has diabetes and not you, you are their primary caregiver and as such are reponsible for them. This can feel all consuming.

A year after my son’s diagnosis, I discovered the diabetes online community. I read lots of blogs and found that I wanted to write my own. I am really clear when I write that it’s not me who has diabetes. I do not reveal my son’s name and I don’t post photos of him on my blog or on twitter. That is my choice, as I know my boy and he is private about his diabetes. 

It is hard as a parent to know what your online profile should be. Clearly, most of us do not actually have diabetes but it is such a big part of our lives whether our children are five or fifteen. I often feel hypocritical for even writing about diabetes as I don’t have it, but it can dominate my life and I do enjoy the connections I have made with people online, especially some other mums.

As 2017 comes to close,  I have seen the amazing phenomenon that is Constance Hall (read about it here). I follow what Constance does on Facebook. It’s so fantastic how she tells it like it is and connects with women across the globe with her total honesty and humour. I don’t need to agree with everything she does and says.  Her success comes from talking about how life really is. She hides nothing and people love this about her. Women being there for each other is not new but using social media to do this is a relatively new phenomenon.

With this in mind, I would like to pay homage and respect to the Diabetes Queen Mothers out there. There are many ways to be a Diabetes Queen Mother. None are wrong. I realise that some mums do things differently from me: some share much more than I would, others are more focused on research, and my own way of coping is to try to be realistically optimistic and focus on hope. 

We are all different yet we are all connected by Type 1 Diabetes and together we are stronger. It’s not our task to critique or question each other. We are not digital natives and we can be clumsy and awkward.  We don’t have solutions or cures but we have real, lived experiences of helping our children grow into strong, independent young adults. We need not always agree but we are Diabetes Queen Mothers.

Who are my Diabetes Queen Mothers? 

(In no particular order)

carbcountingkids.com

@carolynboardman (on Twitter)

@cstevens338 (On twitter)

Bigfootchildhavediabetes.com

Brightoneagle.wordpress.com

T1dandgf.wordpress.com

Acornishmum.com

Racheljgood.wordpress.com

@deepost30 (on twitter)

WaltzingTheDragon.ca

actuallymummy.co.uk

I’ve focused purely on Diabetes Queen Mothers in this blog. That is not to take away from the Diabetes Queens and Kings out there who inspire and teach us every day in many, many ways.