Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Part V: What I held back

I've kept back some information and experiences from my story-telling because I wanted to give all the nitty-gritty to you in the same post.  There is some important information that I feel is never really shared with d-moms and d-dads.  We all hear the horror that can occur when a diabetic is out of control.  The organ damage, the loss of sight, the extremes.  The fact is, rarely does a diabetic go on long enough in high blood sugars for these things to happen.  It takes years and years of high blood sugars to cause that kind of damage.  But there is other damage and while it may not be as "horror inducing", it's still not fun and in some ways, more aggravating.  It's day-to-day kind of stuff.  Some of it, you may not be too keen on discussing with your children, with very good reasons.  But even if you're embarrassed by the topics (and they certainly will be!), you can still use this as a starting point to look up articles for them to read on all of this!  Some of this is going to be way TMI, but I've shared so much already, so why not this?  Here we go....

I've been diabetic for nearly 24 years.  I have a friend, the same age as I am, who was diagnosed at the same age as me.  I haven't had any major complications.  My kidneys function great, there are no signs of diabetic retinopathy, my limbs are all intact, no nerve damage, etc.  My friend has gone through very similar experiences as me, nothing any worse than what I've been through.  And yet, she's had surgery to correct diabetic retinopathy twice.  The doctors never know if the next surgery is going to be the last and she'll lose her sight completely.  There are no explanations for why one person gets complications and another person doesn't.  I'm guessing it's somewhat genetic and you won't know until the sh*t hits the fan whether you're one of the lucky ones or not.  But there are other complications that happen, no matter what your genes are!

During the time when I was using my diabetes to lose weight, I remember going on a short trip with one of my sisters.  An hour and a half trip.  Not long by any means.  But, because of my blood sugars being as high as they were, I had issues with even that long of a drive.  You see, having your blood sugars consistently high does damage to your bladder.  No one tells you that, do they?  But high blood sugars can and do cause permanent bladder control issues.  It's not pretty.  An hour and a half drive and I had a very hard time with just that.  If a diabetic is going to manipulate their diabetes in this way, so that they are consistently high, they will have incidences of wetting their pants.  It's not always possible to be close to a bathroom.  And holding your bladder when your sugar is high just isn't all that easy.  The longer you stay high, the harder it becomes.  And once you take that step to start caring for yourself again, you will still have problems because even a short amount of time with high blood sugars can cause your bladder to weaken.  Fun stuff, right?  Just the problem a teenager wants to have!

Would you believe that all of that is nothing compared to what I have for you next?  High blood sugars mean a body chemistry that is just perfect for certain kinds of fungal growth.  Your diabetic girls, when their blood sugars run high, will definitely have issues with yeast infections.  Especially as their body's immune system starts to be compromised and they begin having issues with bacterial imbalances.  Anti-biotics are never a good thing for a diabetic, but with high blood sugars, a sweeter body chemistry, those little pills will cause some serious and very annoying issues for them.

Now, I can't share personal experiences of what high blood sugars do to boys, but I can share some information with all of you.  Wouldn't want the parents of d-boys to be left without some serious weapons of their own.  What subject occupies the mind of teenage boys more than any other?  A very common side-effect of high blood sugars for boys is erectile dysfunction.  And if they continue with not taking care of themselves for a long enough time, they'll also suffer from sterility.

The most frustrating thing about all of these side effects?  There's no quick fix.  There's no way to undo the damage once it's been done.

Hopefully, that's enough weapons for you to talk to your kids about making sure they take care of themselves.  Now that I've given you all of that, I can set your mind at ease, hopefully.  You see, there's one weapon your children have that I did not.  I was alone.  Your children have you.  They know you care.  You wouldn't be reading my blog and all the horror that I have to share if you didn't want to know in order to protect your child.  I wish I could tell you that I just magically started to take care of myself one day.  That I woke up and suddenly had the wisdom that I needed in order to take all of this seriously.  What really happened to make me take care of myself?  My husband.  I met this wonderful, fantastic person who actually cared about me, wanted a future with me, wanted a family with me.

I've already told you that I love my mom.  I really do.  But, I'm not sure my mom was ever meant to be a mom.  She's always defined herself by the romantic relationship in her life.  That's always been where she's focused her energies.  I was her fifth child, the last from her first marriage, all girls.  I think I came along at a time when she didn't want more children from her husband.  She'd left my father several times.  I don't know what the reality of the situation was, but I do know that I've always felt like my presence was resented.  That I wasn't loved the same as my siblings.  I was the odd one out in our family.  I was quiet and shy.  My four older sisters were very close, they were all popular and outgoing.  I felt like I had no one.  I grew up lonely.  It's that whole "squeaky wheel gets the grease" phenomenon.  I didn't squeak, therefore I was ignored most of the time.  After I finished a two-year degree at the community college in my hometown, I moved off the big city for school.  And this amazing thing happened.  I came out of my shell!  I learned to not care what other people thought of me and just be who I wanted to be.  I met my husband and decided that if he didn't like me for who I was, then he wasn't worth wasting time on.  And you know what?  He actually liked who I was!  That was my turning point.  That was when I realized that I was worth taking care of, not just for him, but for myself as well.  It wasn't long after we started getting serious that I decided to take the step towards being on an insulin pump.  Things still aren't perfect and I slip up from time to time, but I do a much better job of caring for myself.  Because I'm worth the effort.

There's probably a whole lot more I could talk about.  I could probably write an entire book!  But, I think I'm going to leave my story at the five parts.  That doesn't mean this is all over though.  Instead of writing more and boring you all to death, I'm going to open myself up.  Any questions you want answered, any light I can turn on for you, any knowledge you feel I might be able to share with you....ask away!  I'll try to answer anything in as much detail and honesty as I can muster.  Anything you want to know?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Part IV...What's most important to a teenager?

Oh, I've been procrastinating on this one.  I'm so not excited to share this memory with you.  This is honestly the one that I'm most ashamed of.  But it's also the memory that I think some of you d-moms will find most useful in the futures you face with your children.

Joanne, to answer your question...no, I wasn't scared into taking care of myself.  I wish I'd had more intelligence during my teen years and that I could have done the smart thing and been turned around by my hypoglycemic experience.  I did learn not to take massive doses of insulin without first testing my blood sugars to see how much insulin was really needed though.  But that's about as far as the lesson went.

So...what's the most important thing to a teenager?  Not the exceptional teenagers, who focus on grades or athletic endeavors.  But the normal, everyday kind of teenager?  Especially in the late-teen years, when dating starts to become a focus?  Looks, pure and simple.  I don't consider myself a vain person and honestly, these days, I don't even bother with my own appearance much.  If my kids are dressed and looking cute, that's good enough for me!  But, in my late teens, my looks came to matter a lot.  Especially as I was starting to feel lonely and lost and still young enough to dream of "happily ever after".  My weight was a huge issue for me at that point.  I was a size 16.  A very unhappy size 16.  It was around that time that it occurred to me that I could manipulate my diabetes in order to lose weight.  Yup, you read that right.  Back then, they didn't have a name for it.  Recently, I've heard it referred to as "diabulimia" (thank you, Dr. Phil).  So here's the story....

I was 19 and had my first full-time job, benefits included.  I moved into an apartment with a friend.  A cute little second-story, two-bedroom apartment on the north end of a building.  Windows everywhere, tons of sunlight.  In spite of moving out, I still saw my mom almost daily.  We worked for the same employer, so we'd cross paths nearly daily as she was leaving work and I was arriving at work.  This is probably the one and only time that my mom knew that I wasn't taking care of myself.  She commented frequently that my breath smelled "fruity".  But that's about as far as it went.  I wasn't taking care of myself.  I was letting my blood sugars run high on purpose, as a way to lose weight.  I took much smaller doses of insulin than I needed.  I didn't feel very good most of the time, didn't have much of an appetite, didn't want to eat anything, thirstier than you could possibly imagine, guzzling water all day long and running to the bathroom minutes later.  I lost weight.  A lot of weight.  I was a size 12.  But I didn't feel good.  I went on like that for about six months.  Until one day, when I knew I had to stop.

I worked second shift at that time and went to work at 2:30 in the afternoon.  I usually woke up around noon to start getting ready for work.  This particular day, I woke up just after noon and I honestly couldn't see a thing.  It was February in northern Minnesota, snow everywhere.  And the sun was shining very brightly.  There's this interesting thing that happens when a diabetic's blood sugars get really high.  You become extremely photosensitive.  I woke up and the sun shining off the snow and glaring in through my windows onto my white walls made me nearly blind.  It was like everything had been white-washed.  My head hurt.  I was so incredibly thirsty.  As soon as I took a drink, I had to pee.  I felt horrible.  It took every ounce of energy I had to call in sick to work, give myself a dose of insulin and crawl back into bed.  I honestly couldn't tell you how high my blood sugars were, but I spent the entire day alternating between sleeping until I could take another dose of insulin and waking up to test and take another injection before sleeping again.  I kept a jug of water by my bed and kept refilling it every time I'd wake up to use the bathroom.  I probably should have been in the hospital for DKA.  But I was alone, trying to correct the major mistake I'd made in not taking care of myself.

Not long after that, I chose to quit my job and return to school.  I moved back in with my mom, much to her displeasure.  I started taking care of myself again.  Not as well as I could have, but enough so that I put back on all the weight I'd lost by not taking care of myself.  And I promised myself I would never become so desperate to be a smaller size again that I'd willingly do that much damage to my body.  It's horrible having your blood sugars run that high.  My A1C around that time ran nearly at 14.  I was sick all the time.  It's amazing how much misery that is for your body.  Not long after that, I heard that a fellow camper from Camp Needlepoint had committed suicide by not taking his insulin.  It horrified me in so many ways, not just because of how terrible suicide is to begin with.  But the thought of what he'd gone through and how incredibly painful that must have been for him.  DKA isn't a pleasant thing.  It causes your body to shut down its systems one at a time.  Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in DKA can tell you that it's pure misery.  I cried for days, just imagining how alone and helpless and ill my fellow camper must have felt.  I didn't even know him, but it touched me just how close I came to that same end and just how awful he must have felt.

So there you have it.  My lowest point as a diabetic and the one I'm most ashamed of.  I hate sharing it because it's such a shameful, awful thing to do.  And for such a shallow and vain reason.  But I feel like this is the memory that has the most value for others to hear.  Not every diabetic does this.  For some, it won't even be an issue.  But, as a parent of a diabetic daughter, I know this information has a great deal of value to me, as I watch my daughter grow.  When she hits her teen years, this is something that I will be looking out for.  But in the years leading up to her teens, the knowledge of what could happen will help me to shape my daughter's life in such a way to prevent this from happening.  In a family with seven children, extra-curricular activities weren't an expense my mom could have afforded.  For my children, extra-curricular activities, athletic pursuits, physical activity will be a part of life.  Proper nutrition and a balanced diet are just one key to the puzzle that is a diabetic's life.  If I put my daughter's puzzle together in just the right way, I don't believe "diabulimia" will ever be an issue for her.  I hope to God that it isn't!  And I hope that by sharing this, other d-moms and d-dads can make use of it too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Part III: An outlet for teenage rebellion

Now that I've gotten around to telling my "story", I'm finding myself drawn to blog about it, just so I can get through all of my thoughts on it and have it all down.  It's kind of like sorting through the belongings of a lost loved one.  It's hard to bring yourself to the point of beginning, but once you do, you feel a drive to finish and begin to feel a bit of a weight lifting off of you.

So, here's where my story starts to get interesting.  Teen years are hell, aren't they?  Even without diabetes, teen years can be pretty brutal.  All that emotional turmoil, physical changes, hormones, acne.  Oh, so much fun!  And there's this interesting mind-set that teens have, where they almost believe that they're invincible.  All those awful stories we hear of teens who drink and drive or text and drive?  That stuff happens to someone else, but not to me!  At least, that seems to be what goes on in a teen mind.  Diabetes adds a very interesting element to the teen sense of invincibility.  Keep in mind as I'm telling you of my teen years....it's not like this for every diabetic.  Really, it's not.  The more support you give your diabetic during these years, the better your child will make it through and the less likely he or she is to face some of these problems.  Notice, I said support, not nagging and doing all the diabetes stuff for them!  Be there to help them through, try to understand their difficulties and lend them an ear when they need to talk things out, and you'll be the best parent a diabetic teenager can have!

Early on in my teens, I went along with what I'd always been doing.  Testing four times a day, insulin injections twice a day, eating as I should, etc.  It wasn't until I hit my mid-teens that things really changed.  I hit puberty. I suddenly gained a whole lot of weight.  Somehow, my high metabolism slowed way down and I started having problems with being over-weight.  Seriously, this literally happened over-night!  At 14, I was 95 lbs. At 15, 110 lbs.  At 16....150!  I stopped taking care of myself.  I turned to food for comfort.  I was a quiet kind of girl.  In grade school, if a teacher called on me or acknowledged me in any way, I turned bright red and clammed up.  I was shy.  I didn't like having people look at me.  That didn't change much as I got older and hit high school.  Food and putting on weight was one way of becoming less noticeable.  I'm not blaming the diabetes for my weight gain, because really, it was my own fault.  As my weight changed, so did my care of my diabetes.  I stopped testing when I should and started "making up" numbers for my log book when it came time to show them to my diabetes care team.  My mom had never paid any attention to making sure I was doing as I was supposed to, so it was pretty easy for me to ignore my diabetes as well.  And here I am, at the point where I have to share two of my most profound diabetes memories.  Remember, this is not how it is for all diabetic teenagers!  These are a couple of moments in my life that I'm not proud of and would rather not have had....

When I was 13, I started to visit my father occasionally on Saturdays.  I hadn't had much contact with him during my life, but when I hit my teen years, I started to feel that I needed some answers from him about certain things that had been done to my sisters and I.  In pursuit of that, I started to spend time with him.  I spent New Year's Eve with him, my step-mother, and their 2-year-old son, the year that I was 15.  In those days, I was awful about taking the right amount of insulin.  I didn't bother measuring out carbohydrates or calculating insulin properly.  I very rarely took any insulin at all when I was visiting him.  That evening, after celebrating, he brought me back home fairly late.  I was feeling exceedingly high and took a rather large dose of insulin before falling asleep on the couch (my basement bedroom was freezing in the winter!).  What happened after that, I can only tell you from what my mom told me.  My mom woke up early the next day, found me in the living room, lying on the couch with my eyes open.  She talked to me and I didn't respond, although my eyes followed her around the room.  She thought maybe I was just so tired that I was sleeping with my eyes open.  My mom went to take a shower.  When she came back after showering and dressing, I started to convulse.  My mom immediately called 911 and called out for one of my sisters to come help her.  At the time, we lived more than 7 miles from town, in a rural area.  While they waited for the ambulance to show up, my sister and mom spoon-fed me sugar straight from the sugar bowl.  There's this interesting thing about extreme insulin reactions that no one will probably tell you.  Glucagon kits aren't all that necessary.  Your body kicks into survival mode and even if you're unconscious, chances are that you will automatically swallow anything placed into your mouth.  The first memory I have from after all this is waking up in the ICU at the hospital, with glucose gel all over my face.  The nearest doctors could figure out, my blood sugar was in the single digits when my mom called the ambulance.  The rough estimate they gave was that my blood sugar was probably about 4!  My sheer stupidity and disregard for my diabetes care nearly killed me and if it weren't for the efforts of my mom and sister, there would have been nothing for the EMTs to do when they got there.  That being said, I hope it will bring some comfort to all of you to know that even with my blood sugar being that incredibly low, I did not wind up in a diabetic coma.

The second profound memory...I'm going to save for tomorrow.  Honestly, it's one that deserves a post of its own!  It's one that those with diabetic girls especially won't want to miss!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Part II: My warped sense of "normal" for a diabetic child...

Before I start on part two....Sarah, you are so right in the incredible differences between "then" vs. "now".  I was diagnosed nearly 24 years ago and the changes are just incredible!  Back then, we would have tested our children four times a day, given them a couple of shots and would have expected them to fall into line with the very regimented schedule of a diabetic, regardless of their pint-sized bodies!  I'm much happier with how things are now, even if that does include 3:00 a.m. blood glucose checks and random boluses throughout the day!

Reyna, your impression of how things were after I was diagnosed is right on.  And it leads right into what I mean by my title tonight.  I grew up with a very warped sense of what was normal for a diabetic child.  My first sibling to be diagnosed, D, was my mother's favorite child.  When she was diagnosed, she got special sugar-free chocolate (I know, fantastic, right? *sarcasm*) and low-sugar Christmas cookies.  When C was diagnosed a few months later, they got special Easter treats.  When I was diagnosed, my mom insisted that I have an angel food cake for my birthday.  I HATED angel food cake.  When Halloween rolled around, my mom continued to let us go trick-or-treating.  But confiscated our entire bag of candy as soon as we got home (we learned to wear costumes that we could use to hid our favorites in!).  After I was diagnosed, every time I got a stomach bug, the flu, anything at all, I was admitted to the hospital.  I seriously used to think that was normal for a diabetic child!  It wasn't until recently, when Lily was diagnosed and faced her first stomach bug, that I realized how abnormal that was.  I don't recall my older sisters being in the hospital nearly as much as I was.  I suppose that's because they were older, therefore more mature and more able to take care of themselves during illness.  As a d-mom now, I know that I would do anything and everything in my power to keep my child in my care, no matter how sick she gets, unless it's honestly and truly something bigger than what I could safely handle on my own.

I'm really trying hard here to not point fingers and say that my mom was an awful mother.  She's not awful, just different.  She has some pretty deep scars that I think have played a large part in making her the person that she is and the mother that she was.  To give her credit, having five children in five and a half years had to have been pretty hard.  Not to mention that the father of those five children was abusive and not very supportive.  My mother was remarried and had my half-brother before I reached my second birthday.  Around the same time that my sisters and I were diagnosed, my mom's second marriage was falling apart and her father passed away unexpectedly.  Just a little more than a year after my diagnosis, our family's home caught fire and we lost just about everything.  My mom had quite a bit going on!  Even without all of that, I can't imagine how hard it would be to focus any amount of attention on one child when there are always six others around who need something too.  I probably don't need to say that I'm not the biggest fan of large families, right?  I'm sure other parents do just fine with it and not every large family is the same, but as one of the "forgotten middle children", I can't imagine having a large family myself.

So, honestly, with all that was going on in my family, I don't think diabetes really made it to the forefront of my mind much.  And it was kind of an "on the back burner" type of thing back then.  You did what you had to do, had a very regimented schedule of when to snack, when to eat a meal, when to test, and when to take insulin.  Diabetes just wasn't the same thing that it is now.  But the prognosis wasn't as good back then either. People were astounded by diabetics who'd survived having the disease for 30 years.  Now, 30 years is nothing!  Most of my childhood memories have nothing to do with diabetes.  The few I have that involved diabetes at all are those from summer camp and from traveling an hour and a half to get a diabetes check-up every three months.  Diabetes didn't really become a problem for me until I hit my teen years.  That, I think, I will save for Part III!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Let me take you on a journey....

It has occurred to me over the last couple of days that my sense of humor has become pretty warped.  I have a "funny" moment to share with all of you.  During our visit to Camp Needlepoint, Lily was given one of the extra backpacks that Eli Lilly donates to the camp.  A wonderful L.L. Bean pink backpack with several spots for important information to be written down.  Inside the backpack was a deck of cards that have diabetes-related questions on them.  A sort of game.  I explained to Lily that they were cards about "diabetes".  Last night, she was searching through her new backpack, opening all the pockets.  She looked up at me with this little forlorn expression and says, "I want diabetes."  My husband and I cracked up over this.  Yup, my mind is warped enough to find that funny.  And no matter how many times I tried to tell her that she already has diabetes, she insisted that she didn't.  Turned out she was looking for the cards.

On to the real post!  I finally went in to see my own diabetes educator (I detest adult endocrinologists!) and she asked me a question that I found surprising, in an odd sort of way.  When discussing my frustrations with trying to manage Lily's diabetes as well as my own, she asked me if I'd bothered to talk to my mom about how she had dealt with having 3 children who are diabetic.  You know what?  The idea of talking to my mom about what she did had never occurred to me!  For good reason, to be honest with you.  But, the question got me thinking about my own diagnosis.  I've been feeling to need to share some of my diabetes experiences through my blog, but I hadn't really thought about sharing my own diagnosis story.  And the question of how my mom handled it brought me to some rather startling revelations.  So, I'm going to share my own diagnosis story and move on through some of my key diabetes experiences.  Before I do though, I have to share just one bit of a warning....I come from a severely dysfunctional family with an atypical mom.  I love my family, I love my mom, and I've come to accept my parents' shortcomings.  No grudges and no anger left over my childhood experiences, because feelings like that aren't worth dwelling on!  That said....

Part I: Diagnosis
I have four older sisters.  Two of them were diagnosed with diabetes before I was.  So my diagnosis story starts a bit earlier than actual diagnosis.  The three of us were diagnosed within a 14-month period, if my memory serves me correctly.  It's a bit hazy, to be honest.  The first to be diagnosed, D, was sometime just before Thanksgiving, around her 12th birthday.  The second, C, was diagnosed several months later, not long after her 11th birthday.  D was hospitalized when she was diagnosed, in order to give her and our parents time to learn all they needed to learn about the disease and its management.  C was not hospitalized, as the doctors didn't feel it was necessary since we were already familiar with the disease at that point.  To be honest with you, in my little 8-year-old brain, all I understood about diabetes was that my sisters were getting special treatment.  In a family with 7 children, special treatment and extra attention were extremely rare.  I was jealous.  I wanted diabetes too, so I would get special treatment and extra attention.  And then came my diagnosis, just a bit more than a year after D was diagnosed.  I was 9-years-old and I remember it being the middle of December.  I don't remember much about being sick before, but I'm guessing my mom must have caught the signs fairly early on.  This time, my mom decided that hospitalization was a good thing.  I spent a week in the hospital, learning to draw up NPH and Regular insulin and inject it into an orange.  I was told I couldn't leave the hospital until I learned to give myself shots.  THIS is why it never occurred to me to ask my mom how she handled things, how she managed blood sugars for three children.  Because, really, she didn't.  I cannot recall a time when my mom ever gave me an injection.  Even in the hospital.  I can't recall her ever testing my blood sugar.  From diagnosis on, I was self-managed.  And so were my sisters.  I have to give my mom some credit though.  I'm sure it was difficult to go through diagnosis with three children.  By the time I was diagnosed, she was probably about ready to throw in the towel.  Throw up her hands and walk away from the reality of it all.  Taking care of seven children, even if they're completely healthy, is a challenge all on it's own! .Add in chronic illnesses for three of them and I'm sure it pushes a person right over the edge.

Not the most interesting of diagnosis stories, I'm sure.  I honestly can't remember too much about it.  I do remember that I was always a very small child, but at diagnosis, I was a whopping (insert sarcasm here) 45 lbs.  Three months before my 10th birthday.  I think I'd lost about 10 lbs while I was sick.  I remember having a nurse who was diabetic and told me she'd been diagnosed when she was 13-months.  And I remember really enjoying having control of the hospital television in my room!  A rare luxury for me!  I don't think the reality of being diabetic really hit me for quite some time.  I was happy to get a bit more attention.  Back then, diabetes meant testing your blood sugar four times a day and taking insulin injections twice a day.  Wow, have things ever changed!

Stay tuned for Part II....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When does the "easy part" start?

I so haven't been in the mood to blog lately.  My husband and I have both been sick for what feels like forever now.  But really, it's only been about a week or so.  Nothing too seriously, but we've both had fevers and chills and been horribly exhausted.  Of course, it's one of those things that the doctors can't do anything about and you just have to wait for it to run its course and be done with you.  Ugh!

The "easy part"....I've come to the realization that there's a popular misconception in our society.  It seems to me that people think that they work hard, put in their time, and eventually, life will magically become "easy".  My husband has even complained about this several times, that no matter how hard we work, it just doesn't seem like life is getting any easier.  Really though....is life supposed to get easier?  Who in the world told you that it would?  Random people you meet on the streets, fellow parents whose children are much older than ours.  They tell us all the time, "it gets easier."  When?  When does it get easier?  So far, I'm not seeing when it will.  Life is a struggle.  We work hard, we put all our efforts into raising children, teaching them the right values and lessons so they'll be just as beautiful inside as they are outside.  We pay our bills, clean our homes, organize our lives, and just generally go about our daily activities.  And you know what?  It never gets easier!  You know why?  Because it's not supposed to!  Seriously.  Life isn't supposed to be easy.

That's coming across as depressing, isn't it?  It shouldn't be though.  It shouldn't make us feel bad that life never gets easier.  We shouldn't get frustrated and upset as we continue to struggle towards our goals.  Here's my reasoning....have you ever walked around your block?  Did you feel like you'd accomplished something when you did?  No?  Of course not!  You didn't have to work for it!  Talk to someone who has run a marathon and ask them the same question.  They'll tell you that they felt like they were on top of the world!  They accomplished something.  They did something that took effort and determination.  That's what life is.  It's not a sprint or a stroll around the block.  It's a marathon.  It requires endurance, patience, determination, drive, and all those other things that are more difficult to come by.  Life is not meant to be "easy".  If it was, we wouldn't appreciate all the good things life offers us.  Instead of sitting around, complaining about how difficult it is and waiting for it to be easy, we need to get up and appreciate all of our daily accomplishments.  My big accomplishment today....Lily was low at lunch and didn't eat much.  I went with my gut and didn't give her any insulin because I knew we'd spend the afternoon running around.  Two hours later, she was an awesomely fantastic 93!  Love that!

Okay, so on to the reason why I'm sucking it up and blogging tonight.  I wanted to share our day.  When I was growing up with diabetes, I attended a camp on the western edge of Wisconsin.  Camp Needlepoint.  How appropriately named, right?  Camp Needlepoint was awesome!  Fantastic!  The absolute best thing about my childhood.  Seriously, I think camp was my true home and I just stayed with my family, waiting for the next year when I could go back.  I loved, loved, loved camp!  A few years back, the camp hired a new director.  Best thing that could have happened to the camp.  The director they hired was a former camper herself.  She frequently tells the story of how her parents dragged her, kicking and screaming, to camp her first year.  And then dragged her away from camp, kicking and screaming, every year after.  A camper after my own heart!  I call her the best thing to happen to the camp because the previous director had been missing a very vital component of camp.  The HEART of it.  Only a true camper-for-life can appreciate what that means.  One other very awesome thing about the camp director...she has a niece, just a little younger than Lily, who was diagnosed with type I just a few weeks after Lily was.  So, this incredibly awesome camp director invited her sister to bring her niece and invited me to bring Lily to visit the camp today.  Oh, how I missed camp!  Going back for a visit is like going home again.  My heart was missing that piece that I left behind at camp!

I showed up to the camp just after 11:00 this morning, with Lily and Leo in tow.  I've been talking to Lily about Camp Needlepoint, what it is, and the fact that all of the kids who go there have diabetes and do "pokies" just like she does.  I wasn't sure how much of it she understood though.  We toured the camp.  Wow, has it changed since I was last there!  It was so beautiful to see how much it has thrived though!  The HEART is there again!  The campers are there because they LOVE camp.  The same doctors and nurses and dietitians who have worked at the camp for years are still there.  Because they LOVE camp.  There's something about Camp Needlepoint that calls to your soul.  There's just no way to describe how incredible it is.  We had such a lovely day there.  Lily got to run around the camp, playing with her friend who also has diabetes.  The two little girls became honorary members of one of the cabins of younger girls.  Lily got to see all of these children, poking their fingers, pulling out their insulin pumps, and running and playing just like every other child who goes to camp!  And my absolute favorite part of the day...as we were getting ready to go home, after a good four hours of visiting, Lily said to me, "I can go to Camp Needlepoint?"  With all the awe and wonder that I feel every time I get to go back for a visit at the camp!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

No break, but a good day anyway!

I did not get my "break" today, but I got a different kind of break.  And it turned out to be a really good one.  One of the major joys in my life, besides the obvious children and husband, is yarn.  Seriously, I love yarn.  The textures, the colors, the variety.  It's all just too fabulous for words.  I love going to a specialty yarn shop and just looking through all that they have to offer.  This just happens to be one thing that Lily actually really enjoys too!  So, during Leo's nap time today, we left him sleeping with his daddy and Lily and I took off on a date.  To the yarn store.  I started a pair of baby booties recently and upon seeing them finished, Lily insisted that she MUST have a pair of slippers too.  It's so much fun to make things for Lily because she always loves what I make her.  I just happened to have one very small ball of Plymouth Oh My yarn.  Oh My is so appropriate!  It's a super, incredibly soft yarn.  It just feels heavenly.  Unfortunately, the one ball was about 1 yard shy of what I needed for a pair of slippers for Lily.  So, we went hunting for another ball.  And just happened to find a funky yarn to use for the finishing touch too.  Here's Lily's first pair of slippers from mommy:

She's very happy with them.  I might just have to whip up another pair for her too.  They're just too cute and so quick and easy!

After the yarn, we stopped for ice cream and walked down the road to our absolute favorite bookstore in the entire world, Wild Rumpus.  Seriously, if anyone ever comes to visit us, we'll have to bring them to this store.  It's fantastic!  They have cats and chickens roaming free, and cages of chinchillas and ferrets and lovely birds.  Even a tarantula, named Harry (in honor of Harry Potter) and a lizard.  So much fun!  We finished our date off by picking up my favorite Indian food for dinner and bringing it home to eat with Leo and Daddy.  Leo LOVES Indian food.  Seriously, it's hilarious to watch him shoveling Malai Kofta into his mouth as quickly as he possibly can.  He actually nearly finished off the entire order of it by himself!  Between yarn shopping, books, and Indian food, it turned out to be a pretty fantastic day!  Even though I didn't get the break I deserve, I got some special time with my favorite little girl, and that's infinitely more precious!

He trumped it!

My sleeping in this morning was trumped before it even started.  At midnight last night, after my  husband had sent his friends on their way home, he decided he needed to take his temperature.  Yup, 100.5.  I guess that trumps being so completely worn out that I could sit in a corner and cry while curled up in the fetal position.

Just to set your minds at ease, my husband is usually pretty fantastic.  He's awesome with helping with the kids and is usually really good about letting me have a break.  It's just when he lets work wear him down to the bone and then gets sick as a result that his mad husband/daddy skills really suffer.

Oh, if only I had a fairy Godmother!  I'd wish for a fabulous babysitter who understands diabetes, loves the kids, and who I could trust 100% with the safety of my children, diabetes and all!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I've HAD IT!

Seriously, I need to throw a temper tantrum quick so I can head to bed with a clear mind.  This has been The Week from Hell!  Actually, it's been a couple of weeks from hell.  I think it all started a couple weeks ago, when my husband asked me if I minded taking the kids to Lily's endo appointment by myself.  Yes, of course I mind!  But, if there's really that much stuff that you need to be at work for, then fine, I'll take them alone.  I do understand, my husband's job is important and he's nearing the end of the project he's currently working on.  It's CRUNCH TIME!  And the expectations are high.  So is the amount of work to be finished and all the kinks need to be worked out.  So he's stressed.  I get it.  And I love him, so I put up with the side-effects that follow him home.  He's cranky.  He's tired and worn out.  He's run down.  My husband is a perfectionist and a tiny bit of a work-a-holic.  Not just with the work he does at work, but with the work he does at home.  He rarely relaxes.  So he gets stressed and tends to lash out.  He gets resentful sometimes because I'm not like that.  I like to relax.  If the floor is messy and the dishes still need to be washed, it doesn't bother me as much as long as I've spent my day interacting with my children.  The quality of care my children get from me far outweighs the amount of housework I do.  So it's okay, as long as I get around to cleaning eventually, right?  So....endo appointment with two small children, followed by a blood draw for Lily, since the doctor runs a battery of tests once a year.  Followed by a drive home with one very unhappy little girl and one very tired little boy.  And then a busy weekend without much of a break.  And a busy week without much of a break.  My husband got together with friends and family several nights in a row last weekend, which meant I was left alone to put the kids to bed all three of those nights.  I was sick, running a fever, and not feeling well. But, I did it, because it's what moms do.  And when Tuesday rolled around and I told my husband that I needed a break....he responded with, "I'm not feeling good."  Apparently, I was supposed to interpret that to mean, "I'm unable to care for the children on my own."  So, after a big argument, I gave up on my break and helped with the kids.  End of the week, and still no break.  As I'm typing, my husband is downstairs, laughing with two of his friends, as they play board games and listen to Angry White Man Music (Pantera, maybe?).  I have spent my night crocheting on the couch in between testing Lily's blood sugar every hour and a half because she isn't feeling well and her blood sugars are running high.  That was, of course, after I put the kids to bed by myself again.  After being disappointed because my husband refused to wait for our favorite Indian restaurant to make a take-out order for us.  He decided Little Caesar's was good enough.


Thought a virtual scream might help, since I can't do a real one.  It didn't.  I'm going to bed after I test Lily one last time.  But I will be sleeping in tomorrow, whether my husband wants to get up with the kids or not!  And I will be getting my break.  Because a stressed, tired, cranky mommy is not a good mommy!  He'll just have to deal!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rare Afternoon

I'm enjoying a rare afternoon here.  I put Leo down for his afternoon nap as soon as we finished up lunch.  And then I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures....cuddling with Lily until she finally fell asleep too!  She so rarely naps anymore and this week has been a bit of a rough one.  Summer colds are brutal on little tiny diabetic bodies!  I knew she was feeling a bit off this morning and she's been pretty cranky the last couple of days.  Hopefully the extra sleep will do her some good and she'll be right back to her latest favorite past-time-running around the house with her "blankelly" as a cape, yelling out "super-fast".  It's pretty cute, I have to admit.

I had a rare moment of jealousy the other day.  I managed to get the kids and myself to the gym, which is a workout on it's own.  I've been severely neglecting my exercise lately.  I brought the kids down to the child care center and was waiting my turn to drop them off.  The woman ahead of me, picking up her children, just happened to be one of those bubble-headed dingbats with boobs 10x larger than her brain.  I know, not a very flattering way to describe her, but really, it never looks good when a woman who isn't even 100 lbs has DD-sized breast implants put in (really, who in their right mind thinks that looks good?).  As I was standing behind this woman, I had a brief moment of jealousy.  Seriously, how much easier it would be to drop the kids off in the center if it weren't for diabetes!  If I didn't have to check Lily's blood sugar to make sure she's staying stable and then check my blood sugar to make sure I'm at a good level to start a workout.  And then deal with the guilt as I hand over a crying Leo and send Lily off to play.  It's so much work!  It occurred to me as I was doing all of that....God does not give bubble-headed bimbos diabetic children.  Probably because he knows they wouldn't be able to handle it.  The strain of it would pop every single bubble in their empty little heads!  It would be a disaster of magnificent proportions!

My bout with jealousy ended very quickly when I got a look at the bubble-head's two children.  Wow!  I'm not going to go into detail, but honestly, if those were my children, they'd be spanked good and hard for behaving the way those two did!  And I'm not even one who believes in spanking!  Life with diabetes may be hard and it may require a mom to have more than just bubbles in her head, but when you're kids are as adorable, inside and out, as the two that I have.....man, it's just so worth it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The numbers are ALL WRONG!

I'm trying to kill time while I wait for the next BG check, which is still 30 minutes away, and trying to avoid falling asleep.  This isn't a good combination for me...I'm convinced there is only so much I can spend on buying yarn off eBay before my husband loses it and murders me!  So, here I am, blogging instead.  A really good thing, since I've had something on my mind for a while now and have been meaning to put it out there and ask for help from all you other d-moms out there!

We had Lily's one-year anniversary checkup with the endocrinologist.  It just happened to come at the end of a week that we'd spent connecting with some other d-families with toddlers/preschoolers with diabetes.  During these d-play-dates, I voiced a frustration I've been having for quite some time now.  The numbers are all wrong.  Every last one of them.  To be more specific, the recommendations just aren't meant to accommodate a pint-sized diabetic!  Here are the main recommendations that I'm talking about:

1.  Treat a low blood sugar with 15 grams of carbohydrates.
2.  Return to the doctor in 3 months for a checkup.

My problems with these two recommendations....Lily can be 50 and if I give her 15 grams of carbohydrates and retest her in an hour, she'll have rocketed straight to 500!  It's nuts!  And it's awful.  For those of you who don't understand what it feels like to have that happen to your body, that large of a jump in either direction will bring on horrible headaches.  Think somewhere along the lines of a brain-freeze that just won't go away.  Not fun, not good for my tiny, little girl!

Second recommendation....in the last three months, Lily had shot up another inch and she has lost 2 lbs.  The weight loss is from all the running she's been doing, I know, but when you only weigh 30 lbs to begin with, a 2 lb loss can be pretty alarming.  This is how the three months goes for us though.  Just after leaving the doctor's office, we have a good week of adjusting to the changes.  After that week, we maybe get a few weeks of just coasting along happily.  In four weeks, we're probably battling numbers again because she's leading into a new growth spurt, which brings on lots of lows.  Five weeks post-doctor, she's in the midst of a huge growth spurt.  Six or seven weeks after, she's done with the growth spurt and her insulin regimen needs to be changed to accommodate the growth she's just done.  Week 8, she's battling a bug or something and everything has gone to hell.  Do I need to continue?  In three months, so much has changed!  She's like a whole new kid and her insulin needs are completely different.  If you want to keep up with a pint-sized diabetic, you need to see the diabetic more often than just every three months!

So Lily's appointment with the diabetes educator was on Friday (her doctor is almost always booked 4 months in advance-another frustration).  Her hemoglobin A1C was 8.6.  Awesome!  Much better than the 9.8 last time!  Great!  But, that doesn't make my frustrations go away.  The numbers really are all wrong for this size of diabetic.  Being diabetic myself, I know I have a bit more knowledge than others and I'm perfectly aware that what works for one diabetic, doesn't work for another.  Diabetes is different in each person.  But, the educators and doctors don't make that clear enough for newly diagnosed diabetics and their families.  And most of all, they really don't make that clear for pint-sized diabetics and their families!  The numbers need to change.  It used to be that the typical age of diagnosis was 9, 10, 11 years-old.  Doctors are seeing more and more children who are infants, toddlers, and preschoolers when they are diagnosed.  If this is occurring more often, don't you think that they should come up with new recommendations for the pint-sized?  Instead of telling families to give 15 grams of carbohydrates, why not tell them to start with 10?  Instead of telling them to bring their child back in three months, why not make it two months?  Things need to change!

Where can you help with this?  Here's what I'm asking of all of you out there who agree with me.  Mention it to your doctor.  Let them hear your frustrations about the recommendations not accommodating your child.  As more and more small children are diagnosed, someone needs to take notice and realize that the endocrinology community needs to come up with new recommendations for this age-group.  The only way for them to start doing that is for all of us to mention our frustrations with the numbers, the lack of accommodation, and let them know that we're not happy with it.  Maybe one of our doctors will wise up and start the ball rolling to get some new recommendations out there for our pint-sized children with diabetes!

Okay, time to test again so I can hopefully head to bed!  Night all!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to the right frame of mind

Yesterday I wasn't in a mood to talk because I was busy dwelling on thoughts of what Lily lost a year ago when she was diagnosed.  Life as a diabetic can be hard and not nearly as carefree as I wish it would be for her.  But, somewhere between then and now, my thoughts have changed.  I've started thinking about what she's gained.  The pictures I posted tell part of the story.  A year ago, she looked tired and thin and pale.  Lily has always measured in the smaller end of the spectrum.  At her two-year checkup, she weighed in the 8th percentile.  Tiny. Five months after diagnosis, she had shot up four inches and gained a few pounds!  The change in her was incredible!  She had more life in her eyes.  She had more energy (which, as troublesome as it can be at times, is a good thing).  She was a much more spunky, lively, little girl.  And I've loved seeing her bloom as she has grown and developed.  That alone is worth the stress and strain of parenting a diabetic child!

I've also started thinking about what we, as a family, have gained through Lily's diagnosis.  A year ago, my husband and I were still having a very rough time adjusting to life with two children.  We were bickering more and resenting each other and growing further apart.  I can look back and honestly say that I think our marriage was in serious danger at that point in time.  We just weren't communicating with each other and we were both putting way too much of our efforts into looking at how the other person was wrong and how we each were right.  We weren't paying any attention to what the other person needed or what the other person was doing right.  Our marriage problems didn't go away when Lily was diagnosed.  They subsided for a little bit as we learned how to take care of her, but they came roaring right back in once we got back to our daily routines.  I honestly don't know if we would have taken the steps we did if it hadn't been for Lily's diagnosis.  Marriage is hard, with or without kids, with or without diabetes.  It takes a lot of work.  And something we just weren't realizing....it requires us to let go of our desire to be right so we can look at all the ways that we are wrong.  Our problems weren't because of Lily's diagnosis, but I do think her diagnosis helped drive us to take the step of pursuing marriage counseling.  And that has made a huge difference!  Things aren't perfect and I doubt they ever will be, but we've definitely picked up some new skills on how to help each other and how to at least try to look at how things might be in the other person's perception.  I can't speak so much for my husband, but I know that I've learned to respect him so much more and to value his input in things.  Not that I didn't before, but in some things, I may have pushed off what he was saying without realizing that much of what we do should be a collaborative effort.  I've developed a great deal more respect for his knowledge and understanding of things.  And, perhaps most importantly, I've learned how to hold on to those feelings of adoration and love that I've always had for him.  I can get frustrated with him and upset with him and still, underneath that, I know that I truly 100% love and respect and admire him.  I remember even when I'm feeling cranky that he's an absolutely amazing person and I'm so lucky to have him!

What an amazing year it's been for us!  Heartbreaking, stressful, long year.  But you know what?  I don't think I would have traded one minute of it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Year in Pictures

Tomorrow is Lily's one year Dia-Birthday.  I'm feeling a bit sad and reflective tonight.  It's been quite a year.  Rather than spending my time writing a post that I don't really feel like writing (I'm just not feeling like talking tonight), I thought I'd share with all of you some pictures from the past year.  I've been looking at them and wondering if other people see the things in them that I do.  So, the year in pictures:

Lily, one month before diagnosis

Two weeks before diagnosis

Lily, the day of diagnosis

Lily, two weeks after diagnosis

Lily, two months after

Lily, three months after

Lily, one year later

What a difference a year makes!  As much as I wish Lily weren't diabetic and that she didn't have to deal with this for the rest of her life, I wouldn't trade her for the world.  To me, she's perfect just as she is and I thank God every day that I was given such a precious, wonderful gift!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A quickie or two

I need to get some sleep tonight, so I can't do a long blog.  But I have some thoughts on my mind.  Excuse me if the topics jump around a bit, but I know I won't sleep if I don't clear them from my head first!

You know what having a diabetic preschooler is like?  It's like playing a game with someone who constantly changes the rules of the game.  It seriously drives me nuts some days!  Lily was doing great for a while.  We figured out that at night, when we give her a correction, we need to back off from what the Bolus Wizard tells us to give her or she'd crash.  That went on for a good month.  And then, all of a sudden, it wasn't working anymore.  She was skyrocketing all night long.  So we went to giving her the full correction.  She still woke up high.  A few weeks of getting up every couple of hours to correct her.  And now we're back to backing off of the correction during the night and she's waking up in the normal range in the morning.  Oh, how I wish we could have just a month or two where things would go just right and she'd feel fantastic and not be on the constant roller-coaster ride that is the pattern for a pint-sized diabetic's blood sugars!

20 questions....do you ever play this game with your children?  I read a blog earlier today, and I can't even remember the blog's name or anything, but it seriously worried me.  As a diabetic myself, I know I can be a bit touchy about things.  The person writing the blog was complaining about not getting enough communication from her child.  Asking the pre-teen child questions and getting the "I don't know" or mumbled answer that a child that age would typically give.  It brought back some rough memories for me.  And I just wanted to take a moment to say to all the other d-moms out there....please, please, please try to resist the urge to play this game with your child over his or her blood sugars!  "You're high? Well, how come? Did you eat something you shouldn't have?  Did you forget to take your insulin earlier?"  Etc, etc, etc.  You know how that all goes.  You analyze everything, every move, every morsel of food, everything!  As hard as it is, try to accept high blood sugars as a fact of life at times, correct them and move on.  Seriously.  As your kids get older, they will learn the consequences of their actions so much better than you could ever imagine.  But playing 20 Questions over why their blood sugars are the way they are at the pre-teen/teen stages will just make them more combative and angrier than they already are.  It's a natural state of mind at those ages, no need to add to it, right?

My last thought for the day....it's getting to be that time of year again.  The back-to-school sales are being plastered everywhere you look, summer is starting to wind down, and parents are getting ready to return to the same old school routine that they take so much comfort in.  My children aren't school-aged yet, but it still has me thinking....you know what they need to come up with next for diabetic children and their moms?  I want them to add a feature on to one of these Continuous Blood Glucose Meters.  They need to figure out a way for these meters to magically beam the numbers off to mom or dad, no matter where they may be.  How fantastic would that be?  Anytime you're worried about your child at school and what his or her BGs might be at the moment, you can just look at a little screen and it'll tell you what the BG is at the moment and if it's going up or down.  It'd be fantastic!  Maybe they can work on that before I have to send Lily off to school.  I'd say they should come up with an app for the iPhone, but I don't have an iPhone.  Still, it'd be a great feature, wouldn't it?

Oh, one last little thing.  I got the best thing in the mail today.  A thank you card from Sue.  She's the one I sent the lilac colored scarf with the flowers off to.  It made me so happy to hear that she enjoyed the scarf and was looking forward to wearing it!  Thank you cards are awesome, and so rarely used now!  Really, they're one of those things that we should all work on bringing back!

Okay, off to bed!  May you all have wonderfully peaceful, beautiful dreams and a full 8-hours of sleep!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Even worse than pity...

Your comments got me thinking about all the things that people have said to me over the years when they find out that I'm diabetic or that Lily is diabetic.  Oh, people can be so uninformed and scary sometimes!  Their comments can really leave you speechless and feeling like a freak sometimes.  So I thought I'd share with you my absolute favorite comment that I hear so often:

You have to give yourself/your child shots?  Oh my gosh, I could NEVER do that!

Seriously, this is my absolute favorite comment.  I love hearing it because it makes me laugh every darn time.  I swear, people just don't think before their comments fly right out of their mouths.  Do they imagine that I've never been afraid of needles?  That my child isn't afraid of needles?  That she's never cried, run the other way, screamed that she didn't want to be poked?   I remember one particular incident with Lily, the day after she was diagnosed.  She was in the hospital still and they'd been using her toes for her blood sugar checks.  Toddler fingers are so incredibly tiny!  One of the nurses that we really liked walked into our room, smile on her face, greeted us and then turned to greet Lily, while reaching down to tickle Lily's foot.  Oh my, I'm sure her scream was heard several floors above and below us!

So here's why I love this comment in particular...until you experience this for yourself, you have no concept of what you could and will do to make sure your child stays safe and healthy, to make sure you stay safe and healthy.  I've had some rough times in the past (I'll share them with you someday soon) and I can guarantee you, even someone who is deathly afraid of needles will pick one up and jab it into their own flesh or the flesh of their child when faced with the choice between that needle or death.  Death by diabetes is not something anyone would want.  And honestly, from my own experiences with it, I can tell you that it's not something you'd even wish on the worst person you know!  Long before a person got to that point, they'd pick up that needle.  When it comes down to it, we face our fears, the worst of our fears, in order to achieve survival for ourselves and our children.  It's amazing how we willingly do what we never thought we could when we're given such a choice!

Off to test Lily one last time before I turn in for the night!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't pity me!

Do you ever find yourself sharing the fact that your child is diabetic randomly with strangers?  I do this all the time.  Their response is nearly always the same...."Oh, I'm so sorry."  "How awful for you."  Seriously?  I shared a video on here a while back called "Faces of Diabetes".  I didn't comment on it at the time because I felt I needed some time to reflect on it and my reaction to it first.  It made me angry.  The pitying comments, the "so sorry", the portrayal of a life with diabetes being a tragedy with only grim circumstances at the end of that life.  It makes me so angry!  I have never once considered my life as being less valuable because of my diabetes.  I have never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me for it.  Or to feel sorry for me because my child has it.  I don't want your pity!

So why do I tell strangers I don't even know that my daughter is diabetic?  I want them to know just how incredible she is.  I want them to look at her in awe for how happy and healthy and amazing she is.  Lily deals with so much throughout her day.  Every day.  Diabetes doesn't give her or me a break.  We deal with highs, lows, finger pokes, running to the bathroom when we're high, guzzling water, downing fruit snacks while we're starving to death, and everything else this disease throws at us.  And we do it all while smiling, laughing, running, playing, LIVING!  I want people to understand that while diabetes is difficult and a cure is so incredibly needed, the people who deal with the disease are amazing individuals.  Incredible, worthwhile, strong people.  They are not just diabetics.  They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons...people who matter.  I want them to know that my life is not a tragedy.  My daughter's life is not a tragedy.  Yes, we deal with difficulties and if we don't take care of ourselves, there are very grim consequences.  But our lives are beautiful and should be admired, not pitied!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Christmas in July!

I think I might be safe posting these now.  I know Sue at least has received her gift.  And I'm pretty sure Michelle isn't following my blog.  I'm hoping she received her gift already too, but she lives in Australia, so that's kind of iffy.  So here's the story....

I love doing free-form crochet.  I feel like the yarn has ideas of it's own on how it would like to end up.  Both of the people I was gifting to in the Christmas in July exchange lived in much warmer climates than I do.  Minnesota really doesn't get anywhere near 100 degrees most of the time and the majority of our year is spent in jeans and long-sleeves because of the chill factor.  Don't get me wrong, we do get some heat in the summer, just not anything near what people closer to the equator deal with.  So...for the first gift, I started with the idea of turning a fingering-weight, baby alpaca yarn into something lacy.  The yarn had a different idea:

The yarn decided it wanted to be a lovely, ribbed scarf with a shell ruffle on each end.  I added in some tiny flowers with silk yarn and leaves in a cotton microfiber crochet thread.  I know it's not really a practical thing, especially considering that I was sending it off to southern California.  But it's so much more fun to receive something totally impractical and maybe it will come in handy once the seasons turn and the colder seasons start to hit.

The second scarf actually went along with what I originally intended for it.  I had a fabulous, thrifty find from a local yarn store: a skein of Araucania Ulmo yarn.  Pure cotton in a deep burgundy color that showed stitches perfectly.  I decided that I'd do a spiral scarf with the yarn and then added on an edging with a pink/cream/white variegated silk yarn:

I'm so happy with how they both turned out!  I hated having to send them out so late (they should have been postmarked June 30 and I didn't get them out until July 20!), but I really hope I made them worth the wait.  I have a rule for craft exchanges...I refuse to gift something to someone that I'm not horribly tempted to keep for myself!  I just can't do it.  If it's not up to par with something that I would want to own, then it's not worth sending out!

Okay, I'm off to test Lily's blood sugar again and then maybe get in a little more work on the spiral baby blanket I'm working on for a friend.  She's due with a baby girl in just a couple of weeks and I'm hoping to get the blanket done before baby arrives!  Oh, one more picture to share before I go, just because these are the two creations I'm most proud of: