Scandal: If Olivia Pope had Type 1 Diabetes……..


 I’m currently obsessed with the American TV Series Scandal. Shonda Rhimes is a fantastic screen writer, director and producer. Her other shows like Private Practice and Greys Anantomy always had strong characters. A friend gave me the first three series of Scandal and it is so addictive. When sport is on the TV in the House of Testosterone, I actually don’t mind.

The central character in Scandal is Olivia Pope. She is a crisis manager and a fixer! She makes things happen. She is empowered and in control most of the time but has some weaknesses which make her all the more interesting. Her secondary love interest Jake Ballard is another reason for me to watch the show.

There are some amazing lines in Scandal. Olivia Pope is forthright and puts people in their place.  I couldn’t help but wonder how she would handle Type 1 Diabetes.

I found some quotes from the show. I imagine that these are the things that Olivia would say to her Type 1 diabetes. 

Olivia Pope talking to her Type 1 diabetes

Olivia Pope: It’s handled!

Olivia Pope:  I know this is a terrible time for you, and I understand how you feel about me. But if we’re going to work together, if I’m going to help you here, you follow my rules. It’s up to you—you know what’s at stake, you’ve seen what I can do.

Olivia Pope: I don’t know what you expect. I don’t want to be in this. This is—I am not this person. 

Olivia Pope: I wait for you. I watch for you. My whole life is you, I can’t breathe because I’m waiting for you, you OWN me, you control me, I belong to you.

Olivia Pope: You know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned that accusing you of things means nothing. It leads to power games and moves and……..   so instead of speaking my mind, instead of being the brave, outspoken girl my mother taught me to be, I’m chewing my food, fulfilling my contract. And when we’re done, I’ll go home and immediately try to forget this ever happened. Until next Sunday. When we do it all again.

Olivia Pope: Dive in. Own it. Mock your image. You start off strong. ……. Laugh at yourself. It’ll make it impossible for them to laugh at you. 

Olivia Pope: Everything is unrecognizable. You are unrecognizable to yourself. You find yourself doing things you never thought you would do in ways you never thought you would do them to save things you never thought you would want to save. That’s how you know you’re done. You are not done.

I’ve saved my favourite until last. When Olivia Pope has a bad hypo:  Be careful. I’m in shock. Put anything that close to my mouth I might bite it off.

I sip my cup of tea


I think that since my son’s diagnosis, I am a much stronger person. I’m a teacher. My job requires lots of energy and I deal with people all day, every day. I can fix things there.  Nothing phases me now. Solutions are found. I’m quicker at getting things done and better at connecting with people and understanding how to help them. Nothing at work is as hard as being the mum of a child with Type 1 diabetes.

I do not allow this to define me. I am so much more than this and yet…. when I sit with my colleagues for a cup of tea, I realise how different I am now.

I sip my cup of tea. I wonder how my son’s BGL is. I’m hoping that my boy will let me know if he goes above 15mmol on the way to school like he did the other day.  My friend talks about her toddler’s worrying cough.

I sip my cup of tea. I’m hoping the sport he has later in the morning doesn’t give him a hypo and that if it does, he’ll be brave enough to check his levels. Predictions can never be made as each day is so different from the last.  My friends discuss how untidy their children are.

I sip my cup of tea. I want to be like them.

I wash my cup and put it back in the cupboard ready for next time. I am a stronger person and the coughs and untidy rooms are part of the jigsaw of my world too but they are really small pieces in the puzzle of my life.

Guilty snacker

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I have read about people finding secret stashes of empty packets and wrappers from their child with Type 1 diabetes. Confession time! In this house it’s me!

My boy with Type 1 is on injections and cannot snack between meals. How can I then munch on a biscuit with my cuppa whilst he looks on with sad puppy eyes? I’m a born grazer so my admiration for him in his ability to not snack is huge! I know he has not been given the choice and I would swap places with him in a flash.

Solidarity is a lofty goal and there are days when I only have my meals but, I love a strong cup of tea or coffee and it’s just not the same without a little something! Luckily, I have a huge pantry. It was the envy of my friends when we moved in. I find myself standing there, scarfing down a chocolate bar whilst staring at the jars of chia seeds and cacao. It’s all about balance isn’t it? I’m planning what to do with all those healthy ingredients!

Other times I’ll be sitting on my bed holding my cup with a little chocolate bar wedged between the pillows so I can nibble on it. I read a lot, so no-one questions me taking time out to devour a book. Little do they know about my guilty little secret!

Our kids with Type 1 are amazing! If my son stuffs up with counting his carbs or having a snack, it’s OK! At the moment, he at least tells me and we figure out what he could do if the situation comes up again. Knowing what I know, I would be the last to judge him!

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.