Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Diabetes Art Day!

Today is a day that many of us in the Diabetes Online Community have been anticipating for several weeks.  It is Diabetes Art Day.  I wrote about it here and many have been tweeting about it since it was announced by Lee Ann on her blog, The Butter Compartment.

I’m pretty excited about this.  Not just because I get to post art work by my two amazing kids, but because I adore art of all kinds.  I’m not one of those people who looks at a piece of art that challenges our preconceived notions about what qualifies as art and says “Well, anyone can do that!” Art is limitless in the many forms it can take.  And not all art has to be aesthetically pleasing!  Art is a form of expression and not all things worth expressing are happy, beautiful, comforting, pleasing to the eye, perfectly proportioned or warm and fuzzy.  Whether it’s of an uplifting nature or a means to express rage, frustration, sadness or loneliness, it is the message that is important (unless, of course, all you care about is filling that wall space above the couch with something that coordinates with your decor) and I have a feeling we all have a message of one kind or another to share with regards to diabetes — call me crazy...

A few weeks ago when this idea was in it’s infancy I began setting aside all the diabetes trash that is generated from the day to day management of Jenna’s diabetes — cartridges, spent insulin vials, used tubing and insertion devices, etc.  I told J when he asked about the growing pile of stuff that I was planning a diabetes art project with the girls.  I wasn’t sure yet what I was going to do with all of it but I wanted to save it nevertheless in hopes that some kick-ass inspiration would pop into my head.

Jazmine, my oldest daughter, overheard this discussion.

“I have an idea!” she exclaimed with confidence and excitement.

“Lay it on me” I replied, intrigued by her enthusiasm.

“What if we used the site change thingy to stamp paint on paper?  We could dip it in the paint, pull back the doo-hicky, place it on the paper and press it to make it click!”

How clever is that?! I was speechless.

Sometimes the artistic process is just as significant as the finished work of art.  As the parent of a diabetic child who found infusion site changes quite stressful, I believe this fun technique could be utilized to help children fearful of site changes.  The incentive to have another used insertion device with which to create art could assist a child in finding his or her bravery during routine site changes.  The message? To every cloud there is a silver lining, if one chooses to see it. 

To finish their pieces they channeled Jackson Pollock himself and splattered silver glitter paint as a top layer.  Jenna took it one step further and grabbed some seed pods from some spent flowers in the garden as well as a dried cherry tree leaf and added them as a finishing touch.  What can I say — she’s very avant-garde.

Here are the finished pieces after they were allowed to dry.

My own contribution to Diabetes Art Day, titled “Parenting On The Glycemic Tightrope”, can be found below or on the side bar of this blog.  It’s message is only too obvious to anyone with type 1 diabetes and to D-parents in particular.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Post From The Past.

Last weekend my family and I attended our first Children With Diabetes - Friends For Life conference in Vancouver.  Incidentally, it was also the first one ever held in Canada.  I thought it would be fitting to post here, on my own blog, something I wrote that originally appeared as a guest blog on Six Until Me this past April.  I do plan to write about our experience at the conference.  But for now, I’d like to revisit another “first”. 

*    *    *
As parents our aim is to teach our children how to be independent of us.  It is a painstaking, bittersweet process spanning many years and encompassing countless achievements along the way—the first time a baby reaches for a toy, holds a spoon or takes a first step.   The first time a child sleeps over at a friend’s house, rides a two-wheeler, drives a car—each first represents a step closer to the goal of independence and is celebrated accordingly.  Having a child with Type 1 Diabetes adds considerably more to this list of firsts.
My daughter, Jenna, will be four years old in a few weeks and her two year diagnosis anniversary will follow nine weeks after that.  I haven’t pushed her to learn to perform any of the routine tasks related to the management of her diabetes.  She’s still quite young and lacking in some fine motor skills to accomplish the tasks involved with ease.  It takes a steady hand to zero-in on that bead of blood with a test strip then allow enough time for the strip to slurp it up until an adequate sample is obtained.  Besides, she faces a lifetime performing the never-ending, daily litany of blood sugar checks, boluses, site changes and corrections.  There’s no hurry.  Like other aspects of raising a child this will be a process requiring time, patience and a relaxed, supportive approach—the pace of which will be set by Jenna and her cues signaling readiness.

Last year on a few occasions, I tested the waters and offered Jenna the opportunity to do her own blood sugar check.  Each time she refused I would do the check myself without further discussion.  Then one day during a family camping trip I offered her the lancing device expecting her to refuse as usual.  This time, however, she surprised me when she quickly took it from my hand with such confidence—more than she was prepared to commit to.  Jenna’s expression when she pressed the device to her finger and triggered the lancet was that of shock, bordering on panic.   It was then that I knew she hadn’t really intended to perform her own check.    But when she saw the drop of blood and realized what she had done her panicked expression changed to one of proud amazement, like when a child snaps her fingers for the first time or blows her first chewing gum bubble.

We congratulated her on this achievement being careful not to overdo it.  Jenna isn’t one for a lot of fanfare.  She is uncomfortable in the spotlight and becomes annoyed by too much ado, perhaps feeling patronized.  I thought this would signify a turning point whereby Jenna would feel empowered and take more of an active role in her diabetes management.  But this was an isolated event.  Jenna refused to do any more checks after that.

Then one day this past January, five months after the unintentional lancing incident, Jenna was just about to enjoy a mid-morning snack.  She had washed her hands and was pulling out the kitchen stool to sit and enjoy her cheese, crackers and half an apple.  I asked her to get the checker ready which entails getting a strip out (she has finally mastered uncapping the container without flinging strips everywhere, for which I am truly grateful) and inserting it into the meter.  Jenna said “Sure Mom.”  After a brief moment she said something I wasn’t expecting; “...actually, I’ll do my own check today.”  Then without hesitation she proceeded to do just that, as if she had done it a hundred times before.

When she was finished and the number appeared I kissed her on the top of her head and with as much restraint and composure as I could muster I quietly said “Good job, honey!”  But inside I was bursting.   I realized that this was the way it was meant to happen.  On her own terms Jenna had done her blood sugar check and had taken one more step closer to her independence—a step I wish with all my heart she didn’t have to take.  But the fact of the matter is it’s just one in a long line of firsts necessary for her to become independent in life and in the management of her diabetes.

It’s also just another reason for me to be proudly in awe of Jenna—my beautiful, brave, strong girl.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

This D-Feast Friday is a tribute to people who can’t digest gluten.  It is a gluten free chocolate cake recipe using quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)!  A friend forwarded me the link and I admit, I was skeptical.  But I was also intrigued.

The only problem I have with the recipe is the fat.  If my calculations are correct the fat content per serving, if a serving is 1/12 of the cake, would be about 11 grams.  The carb count per serving is 33 grams.

If I were to make the cake again I would reduce the butter to 1/2 cup and the sugar to 1 cup.  That would reduce the fat content per 1/12 of the cake to about 7 grams and the carb count to about 25 grams.  I suspect the end result wouldn’t be affected much by this tweaking.

The cake was quite good.  It was incredibly moist.  In fact, it could almost be classified as a pudding rather than a cake.  But if it’s chocolate you are craving, this will satisfy.

I dusted the top with icing sugar to pretty it up a bit.  I also got busy with my paring knife and made these fancy-schmancy strawberry garnishes!

So here’s the link where you can find the recipe and here’s a picture to tantalize you:

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bravery, Bears and Purple-Tongued Giraffes

The sound of sleepy feet enter just as my quiet bedroom is starting to show signs that the sunrise is mere minutes away.  In a moment a tousle-haired Jenna is standing beside my bed in Hello Kitty pajamas, rubbing her eyes, waiting for me to draw back the covers and invite her in.  She snuggles up behind me and throws one leg over my hip.  Some shifting and positioning takes place, then finally she settles into her comfortable spot.  We snuggle and doze for the next little while.


“Mom, can we get up and have breakfast now?”

“Sure.  Are you hungry this morning?”

“Yes.  So hungry I could eat a bear!”

“A whole bear?!  That’s pretty hungry!” Jenna snuggles in closer and I wrap my arm around her tightly and kiss her forehead.

“Yeah.  But I wouldn’t eat an elephant.  I like elephants.”

“Elephants are cool.  And so are giraffes.”

“Ya.  Giraffes are tall and they have spots.  OH!  And they have purple tongues!”

“What about deer?”

“I love deers.  Especially Bambies.  They are so cute.  We should watch that movie sometime, Mom.”

“Oh yeah?  I’ve never seen that movie.  There’s a sad part in the movie that I’ve always been afraid of watching.”

Jenna pulls back from me to see my face.  “Really, Mom?”

“Mmm-hm.  I’ve only ever heard about it.  It has something to do with a forest fire.  But I’ll be brave and watch it if you will.”

“I can’t believe you are afraid, Mommy.  I mean, you’re a grown-up!”

“Everybody is afraid sometimes, sweetheart.  And you don’t have to be a grown-up to be brave.  Why, you’re one of the bravest people I know!”  Jenna snuggles close again.

After a brief pause she asks “...sight changes?”

“Sight changes and everything else to do with having diabetes.  You are one brave little girl.” She wraps her little arms around me and we hug.  Tightly.

“Okay!  Let’s go find a bear for breakfast!” I say as I throw back the covers.  Jenna giggles in her delightfully infectious way and bounds out of bed.

I love my life.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Pancreas I am Not.


I’ve had one of those days.  You know the kind of day where you are to be reminded of just how human you are?  The kind of day you wish you could grab diabetes by the throat and choke the living crap out of it?

Here’s how my morning played out:

A 9:30am appointment to get my hair cut and coloured meant I had time to get up, shower, get breakfast for the kids, load up on my morning caffeine quota and head out the door.

Cold cereal and fresh blueberries were on the menu.  I usually try to check Jenna’s blood sugar and bolus her at least five minutes before she actually tucks in -- my attempt at dodging a post-prandial spike.

We did a check and the number 10 appeared.  I dialed up a dose to cover the correction as well as the 32 grams of carbs she was about to consume.

“Did you feel the buzz, Jenna?” I asked.  It’s a routine question we have taken to asking Jenna to ensure the pump received the signal from the meter to bolus her.  The Animas One-Touch Ping vibrates three times just before the insulin dose is delivered.  Sometimes we can hear the vibration.  But more often we miss it.

“Mm-hmm” Jenna responded quickly then resumed her chat with her sister about what they were going to play after breakfast.

I weighed the cereal, washed the berries, poured the milk and breakfast was served.

Fast forward to my hair appointment.

I had been sitting in the salon chair for the better part of an hour.  The colour had been applied and I was thumbing through one of those Hello! magazines, reading some mindless, trivial crap about the rich and famous, enjoying a little me time while the colour proofed, or whatever it is that colour does after it’s been applied to one’s hair.

My phone rang.  It was J.

“Did you bolus Jenna for her breakfast this morning?”

“Uh, ya.  Why?”

“Well, she was acting funny -- not cooperating with getting dressed and tidying up -- so I decided to check her.  She’s 26!”

“Did she wash her hands?” I replied while my heart took up new residence in my throat.

“Yes.  After the first high reading I got her to wash her hands.  The second time it came back even higher!  I’ve just given her two units to correct.”

“What the... I’m sure I bolused her!  I remember asking her if she felt the buzz!” I started running through the sequence of pre-breakfast events in my head.  I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized I couldn’t actually remember pressing the Go button to deliver the dose.  “Check the bolus history.  I’ll stay on the phone.”

A minute later J reported to me that there was no entry for a breakfast bolus in the pump’s history.  The last bolus was sometime in the night to correct a reading just a few points above her target.  Her breakfast bolus was indeed missed.

I sat in the salon chair in a decidedly more somber mood than the one I was in only moments before.  I felt sick.  I felt sad.  But what’s worse, I felt guilt. 

It came crashing down on me like an anvil in one of those old Looney-Tunes cartoons.  I couldn’t believe I had missed pushing one little button.  One stupid little human mistake and now my little girl was enduring the discomfort of a lunar-bound blood sugar.  I sat there, looking at myself in the mirror with colour on my hair, judging myself.  I looked so ridiculous.  

I felt foolish thinking how only moments ago I was looking at pictures of Victoria Beckham walking with two of her three sons at an airport on her way to some fancy-pants famous people function, wondering how she could be so damn thin after having three babies.  All the while my baby was at home suffering the physical agony of hyperglycemia and it was my fault.

I know I’m human.  I know I can’t expect to be perfect.  But this silly little human mistake had such a huge impact on how Jenna felt, which is to say, like shit.  I had trouble not beating myself up about it.  Like most parents, where the well-being of my children is concerned, I strive to be as close to perfection as I can be.

I sat in that salon chair, holding back the tears, feeling very small and all too human.

An hour and a half later Jenna’s pre-lunch blood sugar was 4.8.  The two units of insulin had taken care of my mistake and she was her usual four-year-old, delightful self again.  The beast that is “D” had been beaten into submission once again and had retreated back to it’s dark cave.  All was right with our world once more.

But damn.  I sure do miss her pancreas.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life’s A Beach

So we have been spending our fair share of time at the beach this summer.  There’s just something about sitting on warm sand, the sound of waves swishing a rhythmic lullaby, that makes my heart sing.  It’s like my second home, coming from a beach town in Southern Ontario like I do.  And my girls are fans as well. They love playing in the sand, finding shells, watching little crabs in tidal pools, playing in the surf... it’s all good.

On our most recent beach excursion we arrived after lunch as low tide was mid-afternoon.  All was going well up to this point.   As I pulled into my parking spot and began unloading the crazy amount of beach accoutrements that we require, the girls began unbuckling.  I came around to assist Jenna out of her seat when she told me that she had caught her infusion site on the seat belt.

“But it’s okay, Mom.  I put it back.  I don’t need a site change” she said with a slight hint of desperation in her voice as if she was hoping I would agree and let it go.

I took a look at the site and sure enough, it had been ripped out and was no longer infusing sub-cutaneously.  I could see that Jenna had re-adhered it to her arm in an attempt to make things right again.  But a site change was in order, nevertheless.

I got right down to business.  I was grateful that I remembered to pack the diabetes back-up supply bag that usually accompanies us on any trips longer than an hour and farther than a 20 minute drive from home.  Otherwise, this would have been the shortest beach trip ever with two sad little girls and one stressed out, guilt-ridden Mommy headed back home again.

Jenna handled the site change like a pro.  She does with all site changes now.  She will tell me to wait while she “...finds [her] bravery” and a moment later, when she gives me the go-ahead I waste no time and just get the job done.  She’s amazing.

So with her new site in place we were ready to get down to some serious beach fun.  And a couple hours and a few sand castles later we were ready to pack up and head for home again.

Back at our car I was performing our usual routine of packing up beach stuff and assisting the girls into dry clothes (and attempting in vane to limit the amount of sand we take home with us).  I placed a fresh t-shirt over Jenna’s head and was trying to persuade said shirt over her still damp arms when -- OOPS!  The shirt got caught up on her new site and pulled it out as well.  It seemed to come out with very little provocation, however, and I wondered if, in our haste to hit the beach, I wasn’t careful enough to ensure good adhesion.

Another site change was in order.

So it was a beach day bookended by site changes.  And even though she handled two site changes over the span of a little more than two hours like a seasoned pro (which I guess is indeed what my four year old baby girl is at this point) my heart broke a little for her.  But I don’t show her that.  I face these challenges the way she now does.  We just get on with it.  It’s a part of life for her.  Since she was diagnosed at the age of two it’s the only life she remembers.  She knows nothing else.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another D-Feast Friday Coming Your Way!

I enjoy stuffed peppers but have always made them the typical way, with ground beef and rice as the main stuffing components.  Usually the binding sauce is something tomato based.  But I wanted to see if I could “healthy” it up a bit and avoid using rice since we eat rice at least once a week, and quite frankly, we’re all getting a little tired of rice.  So I opted for extra lean ground turkey and barley and omitted the tomato component.

Once again, the measurements are approximations only.  So don’t start measuring liquids from the bottom of the meniscus at eyeball level or scraping dry measures with any flat edges.  It’s just not necessary.  If a measure seems a little wonky to you, by all means tweak away!  This also means that my carb count per serving is an approximation.

But there’s no denying the nutritional merits of this dish.  Lean protein, fibre, and minerals like selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese are all there thanks to the turkey and the barley!

My kids absolutely loved this meal.  They asked for it again two days later when I asked them what they felt like for supper!

Sherry’s Turkey and Barley Stuffed Peppers       

What you’ll need:
  • 4 large or 6 small bell peppers of various colours
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 2 carrots coarsely grated
  • 2 celery ribs chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pot barley
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
What to do:

Cut peppers in half and remove stem, ribs and seeds.  Arrange in a large lasagna pan, open side up.   Set aside.

Heat a large skillet and drizzle in 1 tbsp olive oil.  Brown ground turkey in skillet and then place in another dish.  Set aside.  Return skillet to heat and drizzle in another tbsp olive oil.  Sauté onion, carrots and celery until soft, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Add minced garlic, salt and pepper and poultry seasoning and sauté another two minutes.  Return turkey to skillet.  Add pot barley and 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth.  Stir and cover.  Reduce heat to simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  As it simmers, if barley mixture appears dry add remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  

Mixture is ready to stuff in peppers when it is the consistency of oatmeal and the barley is par-cooked.  Stuff pepper halves dividing stuffing evenly between each pepper half.  (You may find you have left over stuffing.  Don’t worry.  It’s good on it’s own too!)  Pour enough water in lasagna pan to cover bottom.  Cover pan tightly with foil and place in a 400° oven for 35 - 40 minutes.  

Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and olive oil together to make a mixture that resembles damp sand.  Set aside.

Remove baked, stuffed peppers from oven and remove foil.  Carefully top each pepper with about 1 tbsp of mixture and return to oven, uncovered for an additional 10 - 15 minutes until topping is golden brown.  Watch them carefully so as not to over brown the topping.  

These are a meal on their own.  But I would be inclined to serve them with a tossed salad. 

I figure the peppers are about 8 - 10 carbs per half pepper.   

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Diabetes Art Day

Lee Ann Thill is an art therapist who specializes in working with type 1 diabetics.  She is also a type 1 diabetic and a blogger that I have been a fan of for a couple of years.  In fact, she and Kerri were two of the first bloggers I found when I reached out via the internet to connect with people who understood the realm of diabetes.  So they hold a special place in my heart.  Unbeknownst to them, they saw me through a rather dark time -- the first year post-diagnosis period when I was so very afraid of the uncertainty that Jenna’s future seemed to hold.  I am more than grateful.

Anyone who knows me from way back knows that I was / am somewhat of an artsy-fartsy myself.  So when I read that Lee Ann has decided to host a Diabetes Art Day the idea really spoke to me, especially given that I have two little girls, one with diabetes, who just happen to LOVE creating art, as most children do.

So I’m spreading the word about this event in hopes of inspiring others to take part in this special day.  Now, I know that some of you reading this have already decided that this isn’t for you.  Perhaps you made up your mind a long time ago that art just isn’t your bag and you’re okay with that.  But I urge you to reconsider and remember that we are all artists in our own way.

Haven’t you ever made a pizza and arranged the toppings just so?  What about organizing a drawer or cupboard so that it is more functional and aesthetically pleasing?  Ever arranged a bouquet of flowers, trimmed a hedge, rearranged the furniture in a room, planted a garden, drawn a doodle on a scratch pad, placed food on a plate so that it looks appetizing, rebuilt that engine and marvelled at it’s beauty,  knitted or sewed, placed posters on a wall, played with play-do with your kids?  I could go on but you get my point.  Any of these activities qualifies as art or creative flare.  You have it in you -- you really do.

This is such a neat idea!  It will be like an online art gallery featuring art from the diabetes community.  I can’t wait to see what others create.  This will be AMAZING!

...but only if people participate.  So what do you say?  Feel like getting in touch with your creative self?  Your inner child, if you will?

The date for posting or submitting your art is September 1st.  If you mosey on over to Lee Ann’s fabulous blog you’ll find all the details.

So away you go then!  And happy art-making!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

D-Feast Friday. My Go-To Chicken Recipe

I should warn you that when I make this it is without an actual recipe.  I am the kind of cook that doesn’t have a lot of patience for following recipes, at least where cooking is concerned.  With baking I’m more inclined to follow a recipe, albeit loosely.  But when I’m cooking supper I tend to go by feel and intuition.  (It makes for some pretty interesting gastronomic experiences, to say the least!)  So when I decided to share this “recipe” I realized I would have to actually break out the measuring cups and spoons and make some attempt to quantify the ingredients.  Splashes, glugs and dashes are just too subjective.

Really what I’m saying is please don’t get too hung up on exact measures with this recipe.  The measurements I site are merely guidelines.  And for goodness sake, don’t be afraid to substitute or omit something if it doesn’t agree with your palate.  Except for the chicken.  That’s kinda the backbone of the recipe.   AND the lemon!  You can’t omit something that is part of the title.  And maybe keep the capers.  They’re just too good to leave out.  OKAY!  So you can’t really omit anything.  Just try it.  I think you’ll like it.

Lemon Chicken with Capers

What you’ll need:
  • 4 - 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp organic lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp rinsed and drained capers

    What to do:

    Rinse and pat dry your chicken breast with paper towel.  Slice each chicken breast horizontally as shown in my nifty picture.

    Arrange chicken on cutting board and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste on both sides.

    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add two tbsp of olive oil and half a tsp of butter into the skillet.  Dredge each seasoned chicken breast half in the flour and place into the hot skillet until skillet is full but not crowded.  You will likely have to do two batches.

    Brown chicken 3-4 minutes on each side until golden then remove from skillet to a dish.  Add remaining two tbsp of olive oil and half tsp butter to skillet before browning second batch of chicken.  Remove second batch of chicken to dish.

    Return skillet to heat and pour in chicken broth and organic lemon juice.  Bring broth and lemon juice to a boil and loosen browned bits from skillet with a whisk.   Allow to reduce for about 5-6 minutes before returning all browned chicken breasts to skillet.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Sprinkle capers over chicken as it simmers in skillet for an additional 5-6 minutes.

    Serve with a white and wild rice blend cooked in chicken broth (instead of water) with a splash (sorry--a tablespoon or two) of lemon juice and some steamed vegetables.

    Here I served it with a corn succotash because I had a few cobs left over from supper the night before.  But the plate would look really, REALLY pretty accompanied by Lorraine’s Broccoli-Craisin Salad!  I made that last week and it’s so darn tasty!

    I don’t have any nutritional information for the chicken.  But I figure that one serving (1/2 breast) would have about 5 carbs if approximately 1 tablespoon of flour adhered to it during the dredging stage.


    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    A Family That Neti’s Together...

    We are nearing the half way mark of summer.

    Do you believe that?  Summer is almost half over already!  I’ve become increasingly aware of the shortening days.  My garden has passed it’s prime and most of the late blooming flowers are in full bloom now.  My tomatoes are fruiting, zucchinis are zuking and I figure it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks before we will be hearing the delightful sound of crickets at night as they embark on their mating ritual -- a sign of summer’s grand finale.

    I enjoy Autumn so this is an exciting time for me.  I love many things about Autumn.  I love all seasons but the cooler months are when I feel my best.  Years of asthma and seasonal allergies have played a huge roll in fostering this preference.  And if this spring and summer are any indication, Jenna will likely develop this same love of Autumn for the relief it brings.

    Allergies.  Oh how I suffered growing up.  They seem to have subsided over the last few years for me.  But for the first time, Jenna suffered this summer much like I remember suffering in my youth.  She has spent the past three months in a  near constant state of nasal congestion, sneezing and mouth-breathing at night, all of which makes for poor sleeps,  short tempers, and sucky blood sugars.  Just what she needs in addition to being awakened at least once a night for her routine blood sugar checks.

    I’m not one for medicating without exhausting other non-pharmaceutical interventions first.  But there were a few times this summer I was forced to pull out the pediatric antihistamine medication.  It proved to be rather ineffective, but I had to try.  She was miserable at times.

    So when Jenna was scheduled for a routine pediatrician check-up a couple weeks ago I was sure to mention the trouble she’s been having with environmental allergies this summer, especially after her hgA1c rang in at a solid 8.  This is a perfectly acceptable number for Jenna’s age but it has gone up from 7.5 three months prior.  I wondered if her allergies are to blame for the rise.  Dr. M agreed that this  could very well be the culprit.  He also agreed that antihistamines can be useless sometimes with some people and recommended nasal irrigation instead.

    You read right.  Nasal irrigation.

    Any time a doc recommends an intervention of some kind that does not involve a pharmaceutical, he or she scores big points with me.  But nasal irrigation?  For a four year old?  Really?!  If you aren’t familiar with this procedure, it is the practice of flushing out the nasal cavity with a saline solution and the help of a neti pot, syringe or irrigation bottle.

    Now, I personally have performed nasal irrigation on myself many times for allergies and found it to be very effective and, in fact, quite soothing.  But it takes some practice to perform it without sucking back the saline solution and sending one’s self sputtering and coughing -- or worse, swallowing a glug or two of the briny rinse.  So I had some doubts about whether or not Jenna could master it.  I thought that if I could even convince her to try it, she would likely have an unpleasant experience and never want to do it again.  But out of desperation I was still willing to give it a go.

    I purchased a pediatric sinus rinse kit and planned a tandem nasal irrigation party at Jenna’s bath time.  I reckoned I could demonstrate with my own kit at the bathroom sink as she watched from the tub.

    So that’s what I did.  And in spite of Jenna and her sister laughing hysterically at me while I irrigated my nose in front of them, Jenna was eager to give it a try.  (I admit, I was laughing too and just as an aside, laughing is not recommended while you perform nasal irrigation.  Take my word for it.)

    Jenna did surprisingly well.  She couldn’t quite get the steady stream of solution going in one nostril and coming out the other but she was able to squirt some up each nostril then expel it out again.  She repeated this enough times that the irrigation served its purpose and flushed out much of the allergens from her nasal cavity.  She had a peaceful sleep that night; it was the first sleep of easy nasal breathing she had had in weeks -- dare I say months.

    So now, each bath time I arm her with her bottle of nasal irrigating solution and coach her again on technique.   And each time she does wonderfully and enjoys easier breathing afterward.

    So, even though I suspect I have ventured dangerously close to “too-much-information” territory, that is what’s been going on in our household this summer -- that and a healthy dose of camping and beach fun.

    But I’ll talk about that in another post.