Three Ways to Make Life Easier

Three great examples from Deidre’s story, Cassidy’s Journey With Diabetes.

Nine year old Cassidy with all the things she needs to take care of her diabetes.

1) Know when to let go. As a parent it’s hard to know when to let go, especially when your child has an illness or disability. I loved Deidre’s example of letting her daughter, Cassidy take control of her diabetes at a young age.  I asked Deidre if she encouraged Cassidy and this is what she said. “Cassidy, miss independent, wanted to learn how to change her pump. It was all her idea. I was very nervous at first and it took a few weeks for her to convince me to let her try. I find myself having a hard time not having complete control over her diabetes at all times. It is part of being a hover mom. All parents want their children to be safe but I am sure I take it too far with Cassidy. Well I guess not too far because I do let her out of my sight and let her live her life, so I could be a lot worse. It amazes me how responsible Cassidy is and how fast she learns things. She loves that she knows how to change her pump. It gives her some of the control back into her life, since she is living with diabetes she is going to make the best out of it. Learning how to take care of herself helps her deal with the everyday challenges.”

2) Find a support group. Deidre mention the LDS T1D parents group. I asked her about it and she said, “It’s a parents group I found on Facebook. It is a safe place to ask questions about type one diabetes and to share information you find to help others. It is also a good place to unwind because you know the parents there will understand what you are going through. It helps me remember that I am not the only parent who has a child living with diabetes. I would never have found out about the Genteel without this group.” We all need support and it is especially helpful when it comes from those who travel our same pathway.

3) Research ideas, tools and medication that can improve the quality of life. Another great example of this comes from Deidre, she said, “The Salter Scale has helped me out so much. I didn’t find out about it until a few months after Cassidy was diagnosed. I really wished someone had told me about it at the hospital. Learning how to carb count was very stressful. The scale I use is called the Salter Nutri-Weigh dietary computer scale 1450. It displays 11 nutritional values of your food. It took the guessing game away. If Cassidy wanted a banana I could throw it on the scale and it would let me know how many carbs were in that size banana. Even something as taking crust off of bread was stressful before the scale. I was worried how many carbs I was taking away from that slice of bread. With the scale I didn’t need to worry, if I took too much crust off, the scale would let me know how many carbs were in that slice. The scale was worth every penny and I took the scale with me everywhere I went till I got the hang of carb counting. I will take the scale out now to test myself. I want to make sure my portion sizes remain the same so it is good to test yourself every once in a while to make sure your one cup is still really one cup.”

Cassidy with her Genteel

I asked Deidre about the Genteel and Cassidy showed me how it remarkably works. This is what it says on the box. “Genteel’s exclusive customize contact tips reliably draw blood from a lance site so shallow it does not reach pain nerves. At the instant of activation, genteel vibrates the skin over the lance site, and uses a process so fast, nerves have no time to respond or process the sensation of pain. Blood is drawn in as little as 2-8 seconds without having to squeeze the lance site.” Sounds wonderful and Cassidy say’s it doesn’t hurt!

What helpful tips do you have which make your life better and easier?

Cassidy’s Journey with Diabetes

Written by, Deidre Pickering

Cassidy Pickering

Cassidy, 9 years old

Since writing Cassidy’s Story, June 1, 2014, she has grown so much.  She is determined to learn all about diabetes and how to take care of herself.  Diagnosed at age four with Type 1 diabetes, Cassidy started poking her own finger to do her blood testing at age six, which was a big jump in taking care of herself at such a young age. She has also learned how to change her own pump site by drawing insulin out of a vile, filling her pump with the correct amount of insulin, preparing a new site and removing the old pump.  I love that she is now able to do this.  It gives both of us more freedom so I don’t need to be the “hover” mom I tend to be.

Recently Cassidy was out with her grandpa at dinner, without me, when her pump failed. She called me, letting me know that her pump was not working and that grandpa wanted to bring her right home even though they had just ordered and had not received their food. He was so worried since he didn’t know how to change her pump. She handed the phone to her grandpa and I told him she could change it herself. He was nervous, a nine year old could not handle that much responsibility. I told him to give her a chance and let her try. A little later he called back and said, “She was able to change her pump right at the table with confidence and no help. It was amazing!”

Cassidy has also learned a lot about carbohydrate counting. Once a year she has a meeting with a diabetes educator who will help teach Cassidy and let her ask questions. The educator will test Cassidy with a picture of a meal to see if she can correctly count the carbohydrates. At her most recent meeting Cassidy was able to calculate the correct total for a sample meal. The educator was surprised and told us Cassidy was the first one to get the exact total.

Cassidy sees her diabetes doctor every four months for a checkup and to have her A1C level check. This test gives you a picture of your average blood glucose (blood sugar) control for the past three months. The results give us a good idea of how well her diabetes treatment plan is working. In some ways, the A1C test is like a baseball player’s season batting average; it tells you about a person’s overall success. Neither a single day’s blood test results nor a single game’s batting record gives the same big picture. This last checkup was great and we were able to get Cassidy’s A1C to the correct level. As a mom, I was so happy with the result because it lets me know that I am taking care of her the right way. The A1C test is a roller coaster, so every time I go in I have my fingers crossed the amount of insulin she is given is correct and that we have been giving her the right ratio of carbs to insulin. I told Cassidy being a “mean” mom has been paying off.

Not only do we need to get the right ratio with carbs to insulin, but we need to time her doses correctly too. She needs to wait at least 10 minutes before eating if her blood sugar is in the one hundred range and 20 minutes if her blood sugar is in the two hundred range. Waiting to eat is hard on Cassidy. It takes planning every meal and snack so we can test and start her insulin before eating. She can never just go get a snack at a moment’s notice.

Cassidy’s fingers are always sore. Recently we were able to find a way to help her avoid some of the pain from poking her fingers to test her blood sugar levels. On Facebook, we are members of the LDS T1D parent’s group. Through this group we were able to find a new lancing instrument for testing her blood. It is called Genteel and it delivers a painless blood draw. I was not sure if it would actually work or not, but Cassidy’s aunt Michelle bought it for her and now Cassidy uses it for every blood sugar test.  Cassidy says it is not 100% pain free, but it is much better than what we had been using.

I love that there have been many improvements for managing diabetes over the years and I still have hope that one day they will be able to find a cure. Life is better since the first year she was diagnosed with diabetes and I know it will only get better. I am so proud of Cassidy and her drive to be the healthiest diabetic she can be. She doesn’t let diabetes hold her back. She loves being active and playing on a junior jazz basketball team. She is still the strongest person I know and she is such an example to me.

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 Thank you, Deidre for sharing Cassidy’s journey with us. She is such a brave, happy and smart girl. You’re a lucky and wonderful mom!

Hardships Turn Ordinary Into Extraordinary

HardshipsI’m always impressed with a guest author’s story— that’s why I publish them. With every one of them I realize how hardships have turned ordinary into extraordinary people. From last Sunday’s Story, I can’t stop thinking about Cassidy and how much good she’s accomplished in her short life span of eight years, more specifically the four years she has had Type 1 Diabetes. Deidre is a supportive, wonderful mother who encourages and makes it all possible. Their destiny will be incredible judging from the past four years.

I learned a lot about diabetes from Cassidy’s Story.

  1. Warning signs: Some that Deidre mentioned were weight loss, increase thirst and hunger, lack of energy, wetting the bed at night and sleeping a lot.
  1. Calculating insulin dose is complicated and time consuming. Every carbohydrate has to be counted for in order to give the correct amount of insulin. Serving sizes are tricky and it takes time to calculate. Months after the diagnose Deidre researched and found Salter Nutri-Weight Dietary Computer Scale. She uses the model #1450 and this has simplified the calculating process. I didn’t know insulin was given before a meal so the body has time to absorb the insulin before the food begins to digest, which means it is important to eat the calculated carbs. If the calculated amount is not eaten, you’ve had too much insulin and the blood glucose level drops too low.
  1. Don’t judge others. Cassidy’s first birthday party experience made me realize how quick we are to judge when we really don’t fully understand the situation. Deidre said, “She really wanted a piece of cake. I had thought the slice of cake was Cassidy-sized so I gave her a shot of insulin and she started eating. Half way through the cake she was full. Now she had too much insulin and her blood glucose level would drop low if she didn’t finish the cake. I was standing there with other moms and said, ‘sorry sweetie you need to eat all of your cake.’ I got some strange looks from the other moms. I must be the first mom who ever forced their child to eat all of their cake.”
  1. Organizations are supportive, educational and helpful. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reached out to Deidre through their Family Link program. She was able to talk to families going through the same thing, which brought her comfort and support.
  1. Get involved. I appreciated how the Pickering family gave back to ADA through the Step Out walk. Deidre said, “In the last four years Cassidy has raised more than $6,000.00 towards finding the cure for diabetes. She has volunteered with the ADA to help fill bags with goodies that they give to newly diagnosed patients. She also was a spit donor to help train diabetes sniffing dogs.”
  1. Share the responsibility. I state this often in my Tuesday Tips because I feel so strongly about it. No one can do it all. We need breaks once in a while and by taking them we can do a better job with giving care. It’s awesome that John’s sister took the time to learn how to count carbs and calculate the insulin doses so she could assist in Cassidy’s care. By doing so, John and Deidre are able to take breaks, reassured that Cassidy is in capable hands. Also they’re teaching Cassidy how to manage her own pump and how to count carbs so she can give herself insulin. Deidre is not only supportive, but a smart mom for involving her daughter in making lifestyle changes even at an early age.

Remember when you’re feeling like your load is too heavy, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”