Monday, August 3, 2009

Our Incredible Summer So Far...

Where have I been? Why I've been enjoying one of the best summers I've had since I can remember! A summer filled with travel, adventure, growth and the realization that Diabetes will NOT slow us down. We have enjoyed every minute of this sun-drenched season and will continue to squeeze every last drop of fun from it until the nights cool, the garden fades and school resumes.

Travelling to Ontario to visit my family at the end of June was our first big trip since Jenna's diagnosis and as I mentioned here before, the anticipation of this trip caused me much anxiety. Common sense told me I had little to fear and I just needed to get this first trip under our belts to prove that everything was going to be OK. And it was. In fact it was awesome! We had so much fun with my sister and her family and the worst part of the entire trip was having to say goodbye.

Jenna's blood sugars were a little elevated for the first day or two. I attribute this to the stress of travelling and perhaps the time change. But for the rest of our stay her numbers were pretty darn stellar, considering I guessed at a lot of the carb counts and seldom weighed anything, in spite of my sister providing, among other things to make our life easier while there, a lovely food scale.

Yes, I couldn't have asked for much better control during our stay. When things really got dicey was after our evening flight out of Toronto, homeward bound, arriving in Victoria around midnight Pacific time. That meant around 3:00am Eastern time which was the clock Jazmine and Jenna were on. Jenna's numbers had trouble staying out of the mid to high teens for a good two days afterward. I'm going to pin that one exclusively on the time change and severe sleep deprivation, in spite of two solid hours of sleep Jenna was able to log while we were 40 000 feet off the ground.

A camping trip to Tofino/Long Beach, a favourite destination of ours, on our very own Vancouver Island marked mid July for us. We experienced the beauty of Western Canada's temperate rain forests, basked in the warm sun and played in the Pacific Ocean surf, building sand castles and flying kites for three all-too-short days. It was heaven.

We encountered a minor hiccup on our first day in Tofino when, on the morning of our departure, we performed a site change on Jenna prior to leaving. The new site was on her abdomen, a place she had only allowed us to do an insertion on once before. Jenna suddenly became anxious about the insertion just as I was performing it and recoiled, contracting her abdominal muscles causing a skin fold to occur beneath the new infusion set. I fiddled with it and was able to get rid of the skin fold underneath the set. But I had some concerns about how effective this new site would be as a result. About five hours later, when we arrived at our campsite and I tested Jenna for a snack, my concerns were justified. I can't remember the exact value, but I believe it was well into the twenties. And I knew that this new site was no good. We had to perform another site change, much to Jenna's dismay, check for ketones and do a hefty correction.

One day during our stay, we hiked through two kilometers of temperate rain forest with our girls. While this isn't any great feat for healthy, able-bodied adults, it certainly was a cause of great pride for us when our girls, especially three year old Jenna, hiked the mildly challenging trail on foot for the entire two kilometers. Only at the end of the second kilometer did she mention that her legs were tired and would appreciate a shoulder ride from Daddy back to the truck.

We followed this hike with a stop at Long Beach where Jenna was inspired by this beach's spacious, vastness to run like the wind for nearly a half hour, non-stop. Needless to say, her blood sugar was spot on for the remainder of the day. She even enjoyed a granola bar snack without requiring a bolus!

So, what have I learned from these experiences? Well, I've learned that Jenna needs to be a very willing participant while a site change is being performed on her abdomen. I've learned that time change and sleep deprivation combined with a five hour flight wreak havoc on Jenna's blood sugar, especially when we lose time. Next time I may just up her basals a tad to help keep on top of things. Another valuable lesson; aside from insulin and pumps, exercise is a diabetics best friend. I already knew this. But when I saw it's effects so clearly after a day of intense physical activity, I realized just how truly valuable a tool this is to have in the diabetes tool box.

But I think the most valuable lesson I've learned is that managing Jenna's diabetes doesn't have to slow us down at all. With proper planning and preparation, we can enjoy travelling just like any other family. I've gained a confidence in my own ability to anticipate certain situations and plan accordingly. I know now what I need to do to organize a trip that minimizes stress and maximizes fun! I'm feeling empowered. And I'm sensing the homebody in me is taking a backseat to my adventurous side; the side that wants to experience more of the world with my incredible family.

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