Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Moved!

Hello everyone! I am excited to announce that I have relocated to a new...uh...location. I will be blogging over here now! Please visit me at this new URL and update your bookmarks and blog roles. Thank you so much.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I’m Always Learning.

I hate the term ‘perfectionist’ but I’m guessing there are probably a few people who have used that term to describe me. Even in my artistic pursuits I have been drawn (pardon the pun) to the more intricate styles and mediums, like pen & ink and pencil. These are the mediums I could control and direct more. Precision was my artistic passion. I shied away from paint which is less easily controlled. Although I adore colour and always envied the artist who could just unleash and let the paint fly. 

And then along came diabetes. 

If there was ever a thing that refuses to be tamed or controlled, it’s diabetes. There are good days and bad, but things never just level off and stay that way. It is a constant, exhausting, sometimes scary roller-coaster, with plenty of uncertainty and unknowns. So much so that those of us who live it every day are compelled to seek out others who do the same. We can offer valuable support and understanding. None of us are perfect, but we are struggling to do the best we can with a disease that refuses to be tamed, while juggling all other aspects of our lives.

I can’t really put my finger on any one thing that I have learned. There isn’t something I can file under “learned” as in “Cool. I know that now. On to the next thing.

But most of the significant and meaningful learning I do is an ongoing process. I am learning to accept that people who don’t live this day in and day out simply don’t get it. How can they? It’s like being a parent; you don’t have a sniff until you are one. I am learning to accept that diabetes is not a precision oriented disease. It is far too riddled with variables to ever be anywhere near precise. I am learning to be okay with the fact that there is no way I can do this perfectly. I just do the best I can. I am learning a lot about balance in life - both mine and my child’s life with diabetes. 

There are so many people in the Diabetes Online Community living with diabetes and living well. They don’t let diabetes dictate the course of their lives or stop them from doing what they love. That is what I want for my family - for my children - for my little girl who will take this disease with her when she ventures out into the world on her own.

I think one of the most valuable lessons I am learning with the help of the Diabetes Online Community is to put down the pen and pick up a big, messy, unpredictable paint brush once in a while. To take some risks now and then. To let the paint - in all its colourful glory - fly and fall where it may. To embrace the chaos that is inevitable in life.

The resulting work of art may very well end up being a beautiful masterpiece.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Snapshot Saturday.

Recently, I called Animas to report that Jenna’s pump was behaving oddly. Animas, being the amazing company they are with an emphasis on great customer service,  quickly established that she should have a replacement pump sent immediately and the old, misbehaving one was to be returned to them.

Upon receiving the new pump and meter (they didn’t have any pink replacement pumps in stock so I had to settle for a whole new kit. RATS!) I opened the package up and proceeded to program all of Jenna’s settings into the new pump. Then I installed the battery in the new meter, bringing it to life in all it’s high-def colour contrasted glory! I was so jazzed about this new spiffy meter that I had to subject Jenna to a blood sugar check right away.  When the reading appeared, I ran like the wind to get my camera.

Check out the very first blood sugar reading taken with her new meter:

Jenna couldn’t care less what her blood sugar reading is.  She just wants
to make sure her pump skin fits on the new pump. Priorities, you know.

 Now check out the picture of the meter in the manual:

I’m going to take it as a good omen that Jenna’s very first blood sugar reading on her new meter was a picture-perfect 5.8 mmol/L and matched the illustration in the manual. What are the odds?

Here’s another picture of Jenna awaiting her favourite breakfast treat - a blueberry banana smoothie. You can try the recipe here. They are quite tasty - a good choice for breakfast if a little physical activity is on the morning’s agenda:

This angelic smile is actually Jenna trying to be patient
with my incessant picture taking.  She wants to
dive into a smoothie!


The Awesomeness of D.

I thought of interviewing Jenna again regarding today’s topic for Diabetes Blog Week.  I mean, in spite of the fact that, due to Blogger’s blunders, my post of Jenna’s Ten Things shows no comments (at least that is the case as of the writing of this post), plenty of people did comment and seemed to really enjoy hearing from Jenna. But then I got thinking about it and I know what she would say if I were to ask her what she likes most about having diabetes. 

Now, remember - she’s five.  And you should also know that the child has a wicked sweet tooth. Yes, it’s life’s cruel little irony for our Jenna. She lives for dessert. My other non-diabetic daughter? Not so much. 

So, I was almost 100 percent certain she would answer that her most favourite thing about having diabetes is carb tabs. She loves em. Can’t get enough of em. Just to make sure I wasn’t assuming too much, I actually did ask her. And suffice it to say, I know my kid.

Which leads me to what I see as the most awesome thing that has happened because of my daughter having diabetes. 
Three letters: D.O.C. 

Yes, the Diabetes Online Community has been a tremendous source of comfort and support for me personally these past three (almost) years. I honestly don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for Kerri writing a comment on one of my first blog posts encouraging me to continue blogging, Lee Ann and her beautiful, artistic spirit coupled with intelligence and wisdom, Karen (the brains behind Diabetes Blog Week) and her help with carb counting via Twitter and pictures from my iPhone as well as her words of encouragement, Lorraine and her amazing example of how to be both an incredible Mom and an amazing substitute pancreas for her son, Alexis and her awesome-tastic passion and power, George and his big, bacon loving, Ninja heart, Scott and his kindness and commitment to raising awareness, Mike and his generosity and thoughtfulness, sweet Jess - lover of all things “Jonas” and always keeping things Disney, Stacey and her incredible retweeting ways, Scott and his humour and hugs just when I need them most....and so many others that I could fill volumes. 

Knowing that these people are out there living the reality that is diabetes, just like my family is, every day, every hour, every minute - that they understand what we go through and have our backs - makes this journey with diabetes a little lighter and a lot less lonely.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to thank you in person. Until then, it is a pleasure to be a part of this amazing community. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times - thank you. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

D-Blog Week: Jenna’s Ten Things.

Today’s topic is one that I’ve recently covered - threefold, in fact. I came up with a whopping thirty things I hate about diabetes in a weakened moment of exhaustion. It felt good to get those things off my chest.

So since I have had my chance to vent, I think it may be a good time to hear from Jenna on this topic. I interviewed her this morning while she ate her breakfast. She seemed to enjoy the opportunity to have some input. I may have to give her more chances to be heard. This could mean the D-OC has another cute little junior member to welcome!

Me: Jenna, the Diabetes Online Community wants to know a few things that you don’t like about having diabetes. Would you like to share a few things you don’t like?

Jenna: [nods while eating her cereal] What are you typing?

Me: Nods while eating her cereal. [laughing] Okay. Hit it.

Jenna: Number one - I don’t like when Daddy says “Then how ‘bout we do a check on your toes?”

Me: Daddy’s joking, of course.

Jenna: Yes, he’s joking. Number two - changes. Number three - having to wash my hands all the time before checks. Number four - and I don’t like checking my fingers after I wash my hands. Number five - I don’t like having to wait to get a bolus before I can go out to play. Number six - Sometimes I feel all floopy because I have to get stuff done like brush my hair and brush my teeth. I don’t like that.

Me: Oh. You mean, like that low you had yesterday when we were trying to get ready to go?

Jenna: Yes. When I’m low.

Me: And I had to help you with all that stuff until your blood
sugar came back up, right?

Jenna: Yes.

Me: So what’s number seven?

Jenna: I think I might do 100 things.

Me: hundred things you hate?!

Jenna: Yep.

Me: Let’s just shoot for ten right now, okay?

Jenna: Okay. Number seven - Sometimes I can taste the alcohol when
you are rubbing it on my skin.

Me: So when I prep the area for a new site, you can taste the alcohol vapours?

Jenna: Yes. It’s yucky.

Me: Is there anything else you can think of?

Jenna: What number are we on now?

Me: We are on number eight.

Jenna: Remember that time you had to give me a needle in the night?

Me: You mean, an injection I had to give you because your blood sugar wouldn’t come down?

Jenna: Yes.

Me: So you don’t like needles.

Jenna: Right.

Me: Okay. Number nine.

Jenna: I don’t like it when you try to do checks on other fingers. I only like my pointer fingers checked. My thumbs and pinkies are very delicate.

Me: Okay, we have one more to go, Jenna. What’s your number ten?

Jenna: Blood work. That’s what I hate the most.

Me: Thanks, Jenna. I think the D-OC will enjoy hearing from you today!

Jenna: Thanks. I’m going to go play now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


For all the seriousness of this disease there can be some pretty funny moments. Like the time we were driving and Jenna decided to make a snack out of one of her books. In my frustration with her penchant for destruction I said something that totally broke the tension of the moment and made us see the lighter side of diabetes.

Then there was the time I treated my purse for a high blood sugar.  I blogged about that one last year during D-Blog Week.

Well, apparently I haven’t given up my mission to ensure inanimate objects don’t suffer the effects of  hyperglycemia.

Just last week after the girls and I returned home from a swim at the pool, I had them jump in the tub for a quick bath to rinse away the chlorine.  The girls were still in pool mode, engaging in lots of splashing and frivolity resulting in a lake forming on the bathroom floor. I approached the tub to administer hair washings and was less than impressed to find myself wading through a rather large puddle.


“Are you kidding me?! You have more water outside the tub than inside!!” - clearly an exaggeration, but isn’t that what we parents do?

The hair washing process didn’t go smoothly and I’m sure my already frustrated state didn’t help. But neither did Jenna’s antics. Antagonizing her sister, dodging the shower spray, sending bath toys soaring through the air, squirting me with squirt toys (who’s idea was it to arm them with squirt toys in the bathtub, anyway?!) By the end of the bath I was completely tapped out of patience and convinced that a possible low blood sugar was at play.

At some point J had heard my frustration and had arrived on the scene, ready to help out. I was in super-efficient,  just-get-these-kids-dried-off-and-let-me-go-drink-copious-amounts-of-tea-while-staring-into-space mode.

Jazmine got out of the tub first, then Jenna. I wrapped towels around them both. I quickly dried Jenna’s index finger and performed a blood sugar check, certain I would see a number warranting a snack. But the number that appeared required a small correction instead.

Mumbling something about how crazy these kids were making me, I dialed up the recommended dose of insulin on the meter and pressed GO with conviction. I heard the familiar, yet perplexingly distant tshsht sound. I looked at J.  Simultaneously we turned our attention to the hall.

“You just bolused the newel post” J said in way too calm a manner for the degree of frustration I was feeling.

Closing my eyes and shaking my head at my own foolishness, I recalled placing Jenna’s pump on the newel post at the top of the stairs while she had her bath.

“Yup. I know."

The frustration disolved rather quickly as I gave in to the comedy of the moment and we all shared a chuckle.

Funny how life seems to know when you need a lesson in how to not sweat the small stuff, isn’t it?

Sometimes a little D-humour is a very good thing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Love Letter.


I thought of writing a letter to diabetes for day two of D-Blog Week.  But I have a policy regarding excessive profanity on my blog. (Total bullshit, but it sounded so damned admirable, didn’t it?)  Besides, after my blog post last week itemizing thirty things I hate about this disease, I’m in need of a little love.  What better way to feel the love than to write a love letter to my precious little girl.

Dear Jenna,

I saw what kind of incredible stuff you are made of when you were only just barely two years old.  It ripped my heart out to watch you have to be so very brave.  You were still my little baby girl - still in diapers. We had been making some progress with potty training in the months leading up to your diagnosis. But the onset of diabetes stalled things for a while.

We had to place cotton balls in your diapers in the hospital to collect your urine to check for ketones.  And there were always ketones. So much ketones. The nurse in me knew what that meant; you had poison in your blood because of the fat you had to burn for energy because you couldn’t make enough insulin. And my heart continued to ache with every ketone strip that told the tale of a little girl who had come too close to disaster. You grew up so fast during those few days after your diagnosis.

It hasn’t been easy, these past three years. The first year was the worst. I immersed myself in the management of your diabetes. My aim was to study it, like a warrior studies his enemy.  I wanted to know this beast that had forced itself into our lives.  I wanted to try to learn its every quirk and nuance. So I read books.  I studied the numbers that I carefully recorded in notebooks which I have kept to this day - documenting with great care your blood sugars, what you had eaten and how much insulin I had given you. I poured over the data looking for trends and clues as to what to expect. I now know that you can study the numbers all you want; diabetes will often contradict all that you think you know.

Looking back I think that first year of diabetes immersion served two very important purposes: It helped me to do what I had set out to accomplish - to learn as much as I could about your diabetes, and it served as a diversion from the ache that was ever present in my chest.  I was grieving - grieving the loss of a “healthy" child without any physical challenges.

I was all business during the day, going about my busy daily routine of being mother to two little girls - one with diabetes. It was an excellent distraction. But at night, after I’d put you and your sister to bed, tuck you both in with stories and kisses and a bed time blood sugar check, I’d sit in the kitchen with my cup of tea and far too much time to think, remembering the way life before diabetes was for you - for us. So much simpler. Less physical trials. Less worry.

On your first year after your diagnosis, your “diaversary” as it is affectionately called by the DOC, I wrote how acceptance had taken place. But in all honesty, and in the clarity of hindsight, I can say that it was still quite raw for me then. I can remember, at the time, feeling the lump forming in my throat as I typed that statement. I was trying to convince myself of it. I didn’t want to complain or seem ungrateful for what I had.

But now, almost three years have passed. We just celebrated your fifth birthday. You have grown so much. Diapers, along with the our pre-diagnosis days, are a dim memory. You ride a two-wheeler (albeit with training wheels, but a two-wheeler nonetheless!) You choose your own clothes and often your fashion choices impress the heck out of me. Okay, sometimes they scare me a little too with the juxtaposition of patterns and colours, but that just makes me all the more proud of the strong-minded individual you clearly are. Oh my goodness, are you strong minded! Strong-willed...strong everything.

You are more than capable of checking your own blood sugar (when you want to) and you can even read the number on the meter! You are so tall - tall for your age. You can help yourself to snacks in the fridge and you always let me know when you want to eat something so I can carb count for you (I’m pretty sure you do, anyway.)

Site changes are old hat. Remember when they were torture? You would cry so much. And my heart would break. Yet again.

But not anymore. You roll up your sleeve, or expose your upper buttock without so much as batting an eye. You. Are. Incredible.

I can recall reading somewhere - I can’t recall where, now - that managing your child’s diabetes does get easier, but it never gets easy. Truer words were never spoken. It really has gotten easier since that first year. By no means is it easy, but it is a part of our lives - woven into the fabric of our family almost seamlessly. We make it look easy to onlookers. And I can say that you have played a significant role in helping me to get to this point. Yes, you have helped me! I’ve watched you muster courage that many adults haven’t had to tap into yet in their life’s journey. I have seen you get tough and accept what is non-negotiable. I have watched as you make conscious decisions regarding food choices based on wisdom that is beyond your five short years on this earth. I have seen you gain an independence in life that fills me with awe and respect for you.

I am so proud of you, my dear little one. You inspire and impress me constantly. Both you and your sister are two of the nicest, most fun, interesting and delightful people I know. I am filled with gratitude that I am the person who gets to be Mommy to you both. I know you are very well equipped to deal with this diabetes hand you’ve been dealt. And I will always be here for you when you need a break. Or a hug. Or someone to eat too much ice-cream with.

I am honoured to be your Mama. I love you endlessly.

All my love,

Admiring Our Differences

Here it is.  Day one of D-Blog Week 2011!

I try to teach my daughters to empathize with others. I feel this is an incredibly important ability to have in this world. The ability to imagine what someone else might be feeling given their unique circumstances is a powerful skill. This skill, once honed, results in compassion. And a little compassion goes a long way for someone living with an invisible disease like type 1 diabetes.

Both my girls are walking their own path in this world.  I have the great honour to walk beside them right now -- to share in their triumphs and trials as any parent of young children does.  A lot of their experiences I can relate to.  I was once 5 and 7 years old.  I do have a few points of reference.  But there are some things I am unable to relate to as much as I would like.  For Jenna, it is how it feels to have type 1 diabetes. 

I do know what it’s like to have a chronic illness and I have drawn from my own experiences plenty of times while attempting to relate to Jenna.  I am asthmatic. My asthma was less than adequately controlled for the majority of my childhood. It was exacerbated by allergens and my living environment usually included some of the worst offenders.  Therefore, more often than not my breathing was compromised to some degree.  So, in this respect, I can understand what it is like to feel less than stellar most of the time.  It makes being a cheerful, happy, light-hearted, energetic kid rather difficult at times.

I would imagine this is similar to how it can feel when a child has a high or low blood sugar.  It can make you feel pretty rotten. You may find it difficult to be patient, civil and even-tempered when you are battling a blood sugar that doesn’t want to descend from the stratosphere or is plummeting through the floor. You might get a little punchy or find it hard to want to cooperate. Not that diabetes can be used as an excuse for nasty behaviour. But it certainly needs to be taken into consideration, particularly with young children who haven’t yet developed enough self-awareness and insight to be able to identify how they are feeling and associate it with a cause.  

While I can relate to feeling misunderstood for behaviour resulting from the physical trials of a chronic illness,  I can’t relate specifically to how it feels to be hyper or hypoglycemic. Barring a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes in my future, I will never know how it feels to have a fuzzy-toothed blood sugar of 15 or higher.  And while I have gone a long time between meals and had a blood sugar ring in at around 4.8, I have never felt the kick-in-the-ass of a 2.1.  

So who do I look to for insight into how this disease can make my daughter feel? Why the adult, type 1 members of the DOC, of course! This is why I reached out to the online community to begin with. They help me to understand what my daughter goes through as she endures the daily highs and lows.   I have learned a great deal from this group of people. I read their blogs and find little snippets of information that help me to empathize with my little girl. I have gained enough insight that I am able to offer some compassion and comfort to Jenna when diabetes has been particularly difficult and left her feeling chewed up and spit out.  I was unaware until recently that if someone with diabetes has had a stubborn high for a prolonged time it can leave her feeling exhausted and sluggish for a day or so afterward!  This, I understand, can be the case after a bad low as well -- something to keep in mind when the number on the meter says things are back to normal but your child still seems out of sorts.  

It is this kind of information that I would not have known had it not been for the communication I have with so many type 1 PWD who are willing to share their experiences with me. This is like gold to the parent of a child with diabetes. I am forever grateful to them. 

Another benefit I have gained by observing and getting to know these amazing adults living with type 1 diabetes and living well, is the comforting assurance that my daughter will be okay. Somehow, through it all, she will be okay with this unpredictable, naughty, impossible-to-tame “pet monkey” along for the ride.

And that is truly priceless.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Diabetes Blog Week!


The 2nd annual Diabetes Blog Week is set to commence in three days and since last year was such a blast, I’ve signed up again.  I’ve just been to Karen’s site and the list of participants is long and impressive!  I hope everyone has finished any books they’ve been reading because I have a feeling we’ll all be up to our eyeballs in diabetes bloggy goodness for the next couple of weeks.

If this is your first time hearing about this please visit Karen’s blog and check out the details.  You can just read the blog entries as they pour in next week or you can join in on the fun, if you like!

Well, I’ve got some writing to do so I’d better get to it.

Happy blogging all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wounds Reopened

I was awake Sunday night into the wee hours, but this time it wasn’t just because of a stubborn high blood sugar.  That was only part of the reason.  My mind was trying to sort through how I felt about the reactions I was hearing, reading and seeing from people in response to the news that Osama bin Laden was dead.  I was troubled by some of what I witnessed.  Here’s why:

What has been accomplished by the murder of bin Laden? Are we better off? Is the world a safer place? Has a wrong been righted? Is all the pain, sorrow, anger and hatred felt by those mourning lost loved ones suddenly gone?

I think not. In fact, I fear the opposite may be true. The world is arguably a more dangerous place now. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. And all the broken hearts remain broken. Sure, the hurting masses may have experienced some satisfaction - some sense of closure upon hearing the news that bin Laden has been denied the right to live any longer in this realm of existence. I am thankful that those who mourn lost loved ones have that small comfort, at least. But at the end of the day their loved ones are still gone. No amount of bloody retribution will change that. And there has been a grossly disproportionate and, indeed, immeasurable amount of blood spilled since Sept 11, 2001 in the names of those who died that day.

After 9/11 Americans, in their heart-wrenching grief,  had a chance to learn.  To grow.  To see themselves through the eyes of people in other parts of the world.  To gain some perspective and, perhaps a little humility.  And I believe over the course of the last ten years many did just that.

And then Sunday night’s news brought back all the anger, hurt and rage. The lust for raw, primal revenge was reawakened in many. Lessons learned were forgotten. Suddenly, a kinder, gentler nation became a pep squad for murder, cheering like sports fans at the demise of a man, albeit an evil man, who likely handed down his command to another equally diabolical man or men long, long ago.

I wept along with the world on 9/11. I watched in sickened awe at footage of people in faraway lands celebrating in the streets at the news that nearly 3000 human beings were murdered on that unforgettable September morning. I wondered how they could be so calloused, so full of hatred. What wrong had they perceived had been committed against them that they would rejoice in the face of so much death and suffering?

After witnessing an unsettlingly similar reaction to Sunday night’s news, I have my answer.

This isn’t over. Pandora’s box, along with old wounds, have been opened once more. Sadly, I fear that is exactly what the war machine wants.

The following is a link to a video of two grieving mothers. They have much to teach us of tolerance and forgiveness.  9/11 healing: The mothers who found forgiveness, friendship | Video on

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Hate That I Feel Like I Must Apologize For This Post.

I’m tired...

  • I hate waking up to a quiet house and wondering.  Fearing.
  • I hate that I feel relief when I hear her stir in her bed and begin singing.  I’d far rather just delight in the adorableness of the moment, like other moms can.
  • I hate being compelled to wake her just to make sure she will indeed wake up.
  • I hate holding my breath as the meter counts down the three seconds to see the results.
  • I hate the feeling in my chest when the number that appears is stupid-high or scary-low.
  • I hate the guilt.
  • I hate being driven, like a woman possessed, by the thought that my tireless diligence in managing her diabetes now could very well buy her years later.  
  • I hate that people don’t really understand this.
  • I hate that I feel like I am complaining when I do decide to vent.
  • I hate that some people, because of ignorance, will read this and deem me a complainer.
  • I hate that the worry lines above my nose are so deep now that even when my face is expressionless they are clearly visible.
  • I hate how vain that makes me sound.
  • I hate how horrible a high blood sugar can make her feel and the behaviour that can ensue.
  • I hate that sometimes I miss it and get frustrated with her behaviour when I could have been more understanding.
  • I hate trying to distinguish regular 5 year old behaviour from hyper or hypoglycemia-induced behaviour.
  • I hate how long it takes insulin to work to bring down a high.
  • I hate how alone I feel sometimes.
  • I hate even more how alone she will no doubt feel sometimes.
  • I hate that her first school experience was by far more stressful than enjoyable for me.
  • I hate piercing my child’s fingers with needles 8 to 10 times a day and squeezing blood from those sweet fingers.
  • I hate feeling misunderstood and judged.
  • I hate that she may one day feel misunderstood and judged.
  • I hate the idea of her going forth into a world that has such harsh preconceptions and misunderstandings of her disease.
  • I hate the sudden, profound, sobering sadness I feel when she says in a moment of pure frustration how she wishes she didn’t have diabetes.
  • I hate how it makes her feel so angry, uncomfortable and full of rage sometimes that she tells me she hates me.
  • I hate knowing how bad she feels when the moment of rage passes and the guilt sets in.
  • I hate the politics of health care.
  • I hate fearing for her future.
  • I hate this post.
  • I hate diabetes.

I’m so tired.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Whatever It Takes

Today we walked some trails around our rurally set home and since it is spring, the odds of seeing some form of wildlife are quite high these days.  So it wasn’t too surprising when Jenna spotted a marmot about twenty minutes into our walk.  And not just any old marmot - a mommy-marmot!  She was so darn adorable that I stood there for a good two or three minutes snapping pictures of her and quietly talking to her while she posed for me.  Although, truth be told, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t posing, but rather attempting to keep our attention so that we wouldn’t discover her nest of what is sure to contain a brood of maybe a half dozen little newborn marmot pups.

She boldly stood at attention - eyes wide - on high alert.

I know it sounds funny, but as a mom, I felt reverence for this mommy-marmot that I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt as profoundly had I not been a mother myself.  I respected the fact that she was selflessly standing in possible harms way - doing whatever it took to protect her babies - playing to her audience to keep us distracted and guard her precious young.  

I took my pictures from a distance, ever mindful of the stress she was likely feeling.  I could have stayed longer and just kept taking pictures of this adorable creature, but I knew she was probably anxious to get back to her babes.  I didn’t want to delay that reunion for the sake of a few pictures.  I said my quiet goodbyes, thanking her for the photo-op, and moved on.

We walked, took pictures and enjoyed the sunshine.  The girls ran, played and skipped with colourful ropes they got for Easter.  Lots of activity was had by all.  

Fast forward to the end of the day.  Supper was capped off with a piece of chocolate cream pie - a somewhat fatty, carb laden favourite of mine, reserved for rare occasions.  I find it is sometimes hard to know what approach to take with regards to bolusing for certain foods.  I’ve employed the combo bolus in the past only to have a screaming high blood sugar tell me I should have gone the straight up route.  Conversely, I have utilized the straight bolus and had a low make it apparent that a combo would have been the better avenue to take.  Tonight I opted for the straight bolus.

And that was a mistake.

Within an hour of dessert and it’s subsequent bolus, it was time for tired little girls to go to bed.  Teeth were brushed, stories read, covers tucked.  A blood sugar check was performed as per the usual bedtime routine.


And my heart suddenly took up new residence in my throat as adrenaline was pumped into my blood stream.  

The fight or flight response.  

The enemy?  Hypoglycemia.

I proceeded as though I was going to give her a correction bolus with the sole intent to see what insulin she had left on board.  Still at play was 1.8 units.  For Jenna, that is a considerable amount of insulin.  I knew it was possible this low wouldn’t go quietly.  

I shouted down to J who was watching playoff hockey, “2.3 with close to 2 units on board!”

“Shit!” and with that the game was paused and J quickly joined me at Jenna’s bedside with carb tabs in hand.     

Two carb tablets were savoured by an asymptomatic Jenna who was denying feeling anything but sleepy.  I then suspended the basal delivery on her pump.  We tucked her in and I told her I’d be back to check her in 15 minutes.  I went to Jazmine’s room to tuck her in and give hugs and kisses before joining J downstairs in the living room.  

Five minutes went by and the sound of little feet hitting the floor was heard.  Jenna soon appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Are you okay?”  

“I feel all floopy-floppy” she responded in a weak voice.  She was on her way down the stairs and joined me on the couch with an obvious need for hugs. 

I could tell by her behaviour that this had all the makings of a potentially bad low.  Although, how I knew this was not because of much past experience with stubborn lows; Jenna almost always comes up from lows after one treatment.  She seldom requires more.  

I knew because her behaviour with this low was different - unprecedented for Jenna, but in a very subtle way. 

Jenna decided she wanted to go back to bed.  So I settled her in the covers once more only this time I offered to stay with her.  She agreed.  

The next few minutes were marked by moderate restlessness and complaints of being hot and hungry.  So hungry!

Another check was done 15 minutes after the first and she was now 2.1.  I felt panic encroaching on my calm, rational demeanour.  That’s the wrong way!  She should be going up, not down!

Another two carb tabs were devoured.  At this point I decided that I would far rather battle a high in the mid teens until the wee hours than have to pull out the glucagon kit and start mini-dosing.  If I had to I would without hesitation.  But I decided that if the poor kid was hungry, she should eat. 

Down stairs we all paraded where pretzels and juice were divvied up between the three of us (Jazmine wanted in on this normally forbidden, past bedtime snack-fest too, of course).  We sat there chatting and  munching on our snacks.

By the time the last pretzel was crunched and the last swig of juice was chugged, Jenna was back to her old self once more.  All subtle signs of the low had dissolved freeing my beautiful, delightful, spirited little girl.    

Back to bed for a third time where hugs and kisses were exchanged yet again.  A final check revealed 6.8 and my heart eased back into its rightful home in my chest.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I resumed her basal delivery, knowing full well that in another hour her blood sugar would almost certainly be in the mid to high teens.  But at this point I was okay with that. 

Indeed, the next check was an hour later and rang in at 16.  A small correction was given and our alarm set for rechecking in another two hours.

And now, two hours later she is 18.1 and moaning in her sleep - something she does whenever she is running high at night.  Another considerable correction of one unit dosed ... another alarm set ...

... and so it goes.  

Whatever it takes to keep our childen safe. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today’s Gift

Our life with diabetes has evolved over the past three years.  Our focuses, fears and concerns have morphed and matured.   We no longer stress and stew over precision carb counting and the ever elusive “control” we covet but can never achieve and maintain.  I never put dessert on hold to translate an Italian nutritional information label in an effort to obtain accurate serving size and carbohydrate content information anymore.  I just wing it.  It’s one of the perks of three years of carb counting.  We’ve gotten good at guesstimating.  I never consult any of my three copies of The Calorie King anymore.  Oh happy day!

Bolusing for every meal, snack and unplanned treat is second nature now.  Oh sure, it is still inconvenient at times, and other times its downright maddening.  But performing the routine, pre-carb consumption blood sugar check, calculating the carbs, followed by a quick assessment of the situation to factor in any fat content, physical activity, insulin resistance ... blah-blah-blah, then an expeditious pressing of a couple buttons is something we can practically do in our sleep now (and sometimes, I dare say, we do just that!)

We no longer freak out over rogue, wee hour blood sugar readings.  We usually know, or at least can wager a reasonably safe bet on the why.  We check, mutter an expletive or two (thanking our lucky stars that Jenna is a sound sleeper), bolus to correct, set an alarm for two hours and get on with life.  We don’t hold nightly meetings anymore to discuss what we may have done wrong at the supper bolus then discuss our approach for the next time we have whatever the offending meal was.  We don’t pick apart the whole combo-bolus, how-much-up-front-and-how-much-over-how-long conundrum.  It’s become fluent for us now - like studying a language in it’s country of origin for years - one gets used to the colloquialisms and subtle nuances of the language.  Not that we get it right all the time; we have just resigned ourselves to the fact that always getting it right is a ridiculous goal to hold ourselves to.  Getting it close now and then is more realistic.  Expecting the unexpected and not having a clue why things sometimes go wrong is a way of life with diabetes.  That’s just how D roles.  It can be a real jerk that way.  No sense beating ourselves up about it.   

But with these issues fading into the background din of our life with diabetes, other new issues are slowly, quietly emerging.  

Jenna was only just two at her diagnosis.  She was always with me.  I never had to worry about her going low or high away from my watchful eye.  I was on it.  Checker at the ready, like a gun-slinger with an itchy trigger finger, I was always poised to perform the ubiquitous check with lightening speed.   

But she is five now.  Not only has she had her first school experience, making it necessary for me to come to terms with entrusting others with her care and safety, she also wants to go outside and play with the neighbourhood kids.  

Of course she does!  She is a kid, after all.  But with this comes other issues.  The whole “Can I go to Lisa’s house to play, Mom?  Her Mom says it’s okay” scenario has started to play out.

Now, to non-D folks this likely doesn’t seem like that big a deal.  But to D-parents it strikes fear and anxiety in our hearts.  Yet we don’t want to deny our children what all children have the inherent right to experience.  We don’t want to be overprotective, but we know only too well how diabetes can sneak up and bite us in the ass when we least expect it.  How can we be certain our child will be safe in someone else’s home if that person doesn’t have a sniff about diabetes and its jerk-face ways?!  

There is so much to consider.  Jenna doesn’t like drawing attention to her diabetes.  I understand this.  She wants to be like other kids.  I get it.  But, as much as Jenna doesn’t want to make diabetes a focus, she has surprised me with her awareness of the situation and her responsible approach to managing it.  She may be only five years old, but it appears that she knows the importance of disclosure.  This came as a surprise to me just today.

I was doing my best to allow Jenna the freedoms any five year old should have.  She wanted to go with her big sister to a neighbourhood kid’s house for a while to play.  I gave permission for them to do so.  But as I watched her disappear inside a house that wasn’t ours, I knew I had to disclose Jenna’s diabetes to the Mom.  I jogged up to the door where the Mom stood waiting for me and began my speech:

“I just want to let you know, Jenna has type 1 diabetes....”

“Oh yes.  I know.  She told me yesterday when the kids were playing outside.”

I was surprised to learn that Jenna would offer up this information on her own.  She has scolded me in the past for doing such things.

I finished my spiel then turned and walked back to my house, went inside and closed the door.  What no one knew at the time, was how hard it was to make that walk back to my house.  Alone.  Without my five year old diabetic child.  Trusting a mom who only received a 30 second summary of the situation to identify my daughter’s need for intervention, should that need arise.  It helped that Jenna’s older sister, who has proven to be excellent at spotting symptoms in the past, was with her.  It also helped that the house she visited was just steps away from ours.  Yet it was still an unsettling, foreign feeling to leave her there.

But I did it.

I made up my mind I would return within half an hour to perform a blood sugar check.  And as I went to the kitchen in my suddenly, unnaturally quiet house to make myself a cup of tea, it occurred to me; Jenna is starting to take ownership of her diabetes.  She isn’t ashamed of it.  She just doesn’t want it to be the main focus.  She wants some control over the flow of information.  This is a good sign.  I have always been concerned about Jenna being embarrassed or ashamed of her diabetes which could prompt her to hide it.  Nothing scares me more, as she gets older, than the thought of her being around people who don’t know what to do should she require someone to act quickly on her behalf to thwart a low.

Today gave me reason to believe that Jenna is developing a healthy view of her diabetes.  Today renewed my faith that Jenna will be okay.  Today gave me hope.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Everything Is Going To Be Alright.

When we left our home of four years I felt uneasy.  It was the community that saw us through Jenna’s diabetes onset and diagnosis - the town that supported us and comforted us during a dark time in our lives.  The doctors, nurses, pharmacists and support staff -  they knew us.  They knew our little girls.  They knew Jenna.  To leave that was scary and upsetting.   Diabetes isn’t something that can be left unattended for any length of time at all.  It requires constant attention and a steady stream of medical accoutrements.  Consequently, people with this disease quickly find themselves on a first-name basis with their friendly neighbourhood pharmacy staff.  It’s like our home away from home.

Today we spoke with a pharmacist at the pharmacy we will be using in our new community to obtain all the supplies Jenna requires for her diabetes management.  He had us feeling comfortable, taken care of and at home within the first five seconds of our interaction with him.   As he input Jenna’s information into his computer data base he told us there were lots of insulin pumpers in the area and he likely stocked everything we would require.   My eyes widened.  “Really?  Lots?!”

“Oh sure. players...lots of people.” He looked up from his computer and smiled.   I felt like I was being hugged by our new community.  

But it wasn’t just the idea of there being others in our new town with type 1 diabetes - like Jenna - who pumped insulin - like Jenna - that had me wide-eyed.  It was also the fact that this pharmacy had an ample supply of everything we would need at any given moment.

“So...if I wanted a box of infusion sets right could hook me up?” I asked trying to sound poised and hide my giddiness.


I peaked around the counter in disbelief when he disappeared behind the shelves to retrieve a box of infusion sets to show me.  Sure enough, there on the shelves were stacks of boxes of infusion sets, cartridges and every type of meter you can imagine.  The multi-clix we love so dearly were also stocked in abundance in tidy little boxy towers, lined up just as neat as you please.  

I stood there like a kid in a toy store, my mouth hanging open.  

“Wow.  That’s...that’s just really awesome.”  At this point I’d given up trying to sound cool and together.  I think I may have even giggled this ridiculous, little girl giggle.  I was treading on uncharted territory.  I have never dealt with a pharmacy that not only had  “lots” of other type 1 diabetic insulin pumpers for customers but had an impressive reserve of supplies at the ready, for the asking.   

I left that pharmacy with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  I felt safe.  My little girl will be taken care of here.  

Everything is going to be alright.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

You Can’t Go Home

It should be noted that the D word is not mentioned once in this post.  But we all know that even though it isn’t mentioned, it is always present - stealing sleep, demanding attention and consideration, and sapping energy.

*   *   *

We have spent the past nine weeks of our lives on an incredible adventure.  We have seen amazing sights and pushed the limits of our comfort zone.  I, personally, have grown and gained invaluable insight and perspective into certain aspects of my life that have been a bit of a confusing puzzle for many years. 

I’ve been amazed at the courage my two little girls possess.  They are incredible.  Their intelligence and maturity has me in awe.  They are kind-hearted, compassionate, polite, capable little people.  I am so proud of them.

I’ve learned that it’s true; you really can’t go home.  And the longer a person has been away from home, the more that proves to be true.  I’ve realized that I need to heed my inner voice, especially when it is screaming at me.  I’ve learned that I can let go of the past and live fully in the present.  It’s okay to do what I know to be right for myself and my family, unapologetically and in spite of others disagreeing.

I’ve discovered that the word “family” means different things to different people and it can be surprising, sometimes, to discover just who comprises your family.

If you’ve ever wondered if doing without and simplifying life can actually bring about personal growth and a heightened awareness of what is really important, I can say, undeniably, it does.  The old adage - you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone - is accurate but incomplete.  It should end with - but you learn to appreciate what’s left so much more.

This has strengthened my little family, and we were a pretty cohesive unit to begin with.  We are quite a team.

We are going back to the mountains - my husband, two little girls and I - because that is home.  It’s where I left my heart nine weeks ago.

And it’s there still, awaiting my return.

“Come home, Sherry!  I’ve missed you!"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Diabetes + School = A Pickle

OH MY GOSH!  How do you parents of school-aged kids with diabetes do it?!

Honestly, I’m in a bit of a pickle.

Okay.  It’s not entirely a pickle, per se.  I’m pretty sure I know what I need to do here.  Let me lay it down for you:

So, Jenna started junior kindergarten last week.  Now, keep in mind that Jenna has just undergone a major life shake-up, having just moved.  You may also want to factor in the fact that Jenna has been by my side almost constantly since she was born.  Her diagnosis was at 2 years of age -  I didn’t go back to work after I had her, and her diabetes has made it difficult to be away from her for any longer than 2-3 hours at any one time.  I have had no weekends away - no days at work... nothing.  So Jenna is accustomed to me being there.

Now, developmentally speaking, I know that she is at an age where she can handle school.  She is very ready for the classroom environment and to start the formal, structured learning process.  Developmentally speaking!

Emotionally, however?  All things considered?  Not so much.

She cried.  A LOT.  She did not want me to leave her.  We tried, my husband and I.  And it would be one thing if we could just go and not return until the end of the day.  But, since the school hasn’t had a chance to arrange special needs care -- heck, they don’t even have a diabetes protocol prepared yet!  And since it isn’t clear which province will be footing the bill for said special needs care due to our recent move from the west coast, I must be available twice in the day to check Jenna’s blood sugar and administer her insulin while the school gets its ducks in order.  Furthermore, since no one in the school has any solid knowledge about type 1 diabetes, I am incredibly uncomfortable leaving her for any length of time anyway!  It’s all those what ifs we know all too well. What if she goes low?  What if she goes high?  What if she goes so low she requires glucagon?

Anyway, I’ve been somewhat consumed by this over the weekend.  Should I persist and bring her again tomorrow?  Should I insist on staying with her in the classroom until she is comfortable?

Or maybe I should just let it go for now -- maybe even skip the junior K experience altogether and wait until next September to start senior K.  By then we will have moved into our permanent home and we will be more settled - more stable.  Jenna will have had a chance to get her bearings - maybe even develop a strong desire to start school.

I should tell you that Jenna is strongly in favour of that last option.  And I want to take her feelings into account here.  She may only be 4 and 3/4 years old, but she has been through a lot.  She knows what she needs in some respects.  And right now, I believe her when she says she isn’t ready.  I trust her when she tells me “I just want to wait until I’m a little older, Mommy.”

Furthermore, the school isn’t ready for Jenna’s diabetes.  They are clearly daunted by idea of a type 1 diabetic, junior kindergartener right now. They are intimidated by it.  (To give credit where credit is due, they have asked a lot of the right questions and have attempted to see to our needs - this, in spite of having to talk myself down when they recommended I conduct her blood sugar checks and insulin bolusing in a “handicapped bathroom” located at the end of a long hallway, a considerable distance from the kindergarten classroom -  a suggestion that smacked of discrimination and an attempt to hide the perceived blood and gore away from all those “fragile little kindergarten minds."  But that is another post I will write very soon.)

And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’m ready to entrust her diabetes care to a stranger.  I’m feeling hyper-protective of Jenna right now in light of all the changes she has endured.  And I’m not sure I’m up for the task of educating those requiring education and dispelling the myths and prejudices to make this school diabetes-friendly.  Not just yet.  I have a lot on my plate right now and the task of educating and preparing the school is one that requires my full attention and a great deal of preparation.  If I wait, I will have the next seven months to do just that.  And that might just make a huge difference in how both Jenna and I feel about her starting her scholastic journey.

If anyone has any advice, resources or ideas regarding how to make this school a safe place for Jenna, I’d been keen on hearing from you.  I’ve been told by the office staff that Jenna will be the first child with type 1 diabetes they have had in attendance, as hard as that is to believe.  I think I have my work cut out for me.


Jenna has been attending her junior kindergarten class with me present.   Initially, I decided to wait until next September to start her in senior kindergarten.  But after talking to the principal about this and being assured that Jenna’s school day duration could be shortened to accommodate her anxiety, and after being told I could remain in the class as long as I like,  I decided to persist.  Jenna has gradually increased her stay each day and now remains until the end of the school day.  I have been gradually decreasing the amount of time I am present in the classroom in an attempt to get her accustomed to being on her own.  She is doing incredibly well - even telling me “I’m fine, Mom.  You can go now.”

However, I am only absent for about an hour and a half at a time right now, provided her numbers are in a good range and she has eaten well prior to my departure.  There is still no funding for additional assistance from a nurse to do blood sugar checks and administer insulin for snacks and there has been no education aide assigned to Jenna specifically to watch for signs of trouble.  Furthermore, I have yet to do any diabetes teaching with the staff so I am not comfortable leaving Jenna for a prolonged length of time.  Next week I have made arrangements to conduct teaching with several staff members.  I will also be supplying an emergency kit to the classroom to perform checks and treat any lows.  This should help with my peace of mind a little.

I would like to thank all you amazing, clever Moms who gave me such awesome advice and tips and pointed me in right direction for resources and support.  I am so grateful to you all.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Made It!

I’m a little late posting this but we arrived at our destination in southern Ontario late Friday evening and have been basking in small town charm and the loving warmth of family ever since.

Our trek across Canada was not without it’s trials but we played it safe, travelling during good weather and staying put when the weather got nasty.  Which was often.

Frosty prairie morning

A word about the prairies: COLD.

How cold?  I’m talking scary cold; the kind of cold that makes you thankful for shelter.  And central heating.  And cars that start, regardless of hell freezing over!

But along with the breathtaking temperatures came the equally breathtaking sunrises.  The sun coming up over a distant, flat horizon on a crazy-crisp morn is an incredibly beautiful sight to behold.  It almost made the early morning wake-up calls and the frozen-together eyelashes and nose hairs worth it.....almost.
A prairie sunrise

The girls were incredible on the road!  I had purchased a few road-friendly activities at a craft store and kept them hidden away until I was desperate for a diversion - something to keep them occupied and help pass the time.  My scheme worked surprisingly well.  But with that many hours of driving, even the most engaging activity couldn’t guarantee a trip completely free from the occasional bout of restlessness and boredom.  The girls had their moments, especially during the final leg of the journey.  But overall, they did far better than could be expected.

How did the D behave?  Not too shabby!  Jenna’s numbers stayed in or near target for the most part, with the help of raised basals.  There was one day I forgot to raise her basals and, as you might imagine, with sitting all day in a vehicle, her blood sugars crept up into the mid teens.  It served as a reminder of how important activity is to good diabetes management.  The guilt I felt also served as a healthy motivator to remember to raise her basals.

Beautiful sunrise in northern Ontario

So yeah.  We made it.  And now begins the process of starting life anew - registering the kids for school, setting up a case conference to address Jenna’s needs at school, finding G.P.’s and endocrinologists, signing up for provincial health is busier than ever.

But life is good.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Behemoth Icicles, Big-Horned Sheep and Behaving Blood Sugars.

We are stuck.  Again.

It appears Mother Nature is determined to ensure that we stop and smell the...snow drifts?  Our progress is not what we had hoped, even though we knew that travelling in Canada in January by road could mean unexpected weather and unplanned, extended delays along the way.  This isn’t all that surprising.  Disappointing?  Sure.  But not surprising.

We’ve been stuck in snowy, blowy, bitterly cold Calgary since Saturday afternoon, waiting for a nasty blizzard to bug out.  The drive through the mountains was incredible.  But once we got out of the mountains and things started to flatten out, the wind and snow made driving pretty dicey.  We were hoping to make it to Medicine Hat.  It wasn’t in the cards.  

But what amazing things we have seen - like the herd of big horned sheep climbing the mountain on our way out of Golden early Saturday morning.

And the monster icicles, the length of which I would only be guessing.  But given their size in relation to the trees around them, I’d say they rival many high-rise buildings.

And the avalanche that occurred as we were driving by, not long after we entered Yoho National Park.  It was as if it had been timed just for us - for our own personal awe and amazement.

And the thick, blue, shell-like glacial ice blanketing the rock on the side of the mountain.

And of course, the majestic, awe-inspiring mountains themselves that will forever hold me in their spell.  

Canada is a country of wild and dangerous beauty.  I’m proud to call it home.

As for diabetes, I am almost afraid to comment.  I don’t want to jinx what has been a fabulous run of amazing numbers.  But there you go;  I’ve gone and said it.  I hope this doesn’t mess with our good glycemic fortune.  

Snacks while driving have consisted of baked potato chips, 100% pure fruit juice, water, beef jerky, pumpkin seeds, apples, salami slices, popcorn and during one weak moment in Revelstoke, when J and I were in dire need of a good cup of coffee - a small box of ten assorted Timbits at Tim Hortons.  

We have made two visits to the hotel pool and have roamed around a fantastic mall outside of Calgary for hours to satisfy our physical activity needs.  This mall had one of those interactive floors that the girls had a blast jumping around on.  

We were hoping to be on our way tomorrow, but highway closings east of us may delay our progress for yet another day.  We will make the best of it, though.  Calgarians are pretty friendly, hospitable people.  To be stranded in this city another day would hardly be considered a hardship.  

Fairer weather is forecast for Tuesday.  We’ll be on our way before we know it.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the peace and quiet in my cozy room (all are asleep, except for me) and drink my outrageously priced, hotel room-service pot of tea.  I haven’t had a decent cup since somewhere between Kamloops and Revelstoke.  I’m desperate.  I’ll be sure to savour every precious drop.

One last thing, I want to thank those of you who made snack suggestions and everyone who has written supportive and encouraging comments.  It has been incredibly helpful and means a lot to me.  Talk soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Journey Interrupted

There was a time, not long ago, when an adventure involving the open road, a cooler stocked with snacks and no set itinerary would have thrilled me to bits.  But when you factor in two kids, winter driving conditions and diabetes?  Well, lets just say my adventurous side is being trumped by my practical, protective, momma bear side.

And when the highway this momma bear is travelling on with her precious little bear cubs starts to look like this...

...momma bear starts to want to crawl into a cave and not emerge until spring.  Preferably a cave with cable TV, a couple of comfy beds and a hot shower.

So far this trip has been about what we expected, which is to say unpredictable winter weather, kids that get road-weary long before the adults and the hard lesson learned that when a pit stop is made, everyone - whether you feel the urge or not - must go.

OH!  And the cost of gas is atrocious!

But what I am most disappointed in at the moment is the Frio pack we purchased for the trip.  We can’t rely on a cooler to keep Jenna’s insulin cool and yet avoid it freezing in sub zero temperatures (the joys of winter travel).  So, we purchase a Frio pack to try to keep two vials of Novorapid cool enough to preserve it during our journey.  But I’m not so sure it is doing an adequate job of maintaining the proper temperature.  The vials don’t feel much cooler than room temperature.  And I’m quite certain I’m using it correctly:  Soak inner pack for 10 minutes, pat dry with towel, place in outer fabric bag, keep hydrated.  It’s not rocket science.  And I’ve been careful not to hide it away - keeping it where the air circulates around it.  It is, after all, the evaporation process that is supposed to act as a cooling mechanism.  But I don’t think the cooling is sufficient.  Anyone else had any experience with this product?  What was your take on it?

Oh well.  Our main concern at the moment is the weather.  We have had to take a slightly extended break from our progress due to a winter storm warning that we prefer not to mess with.  The picture above is nothing compared to what could lie ahead.  We are erring on the side of caution and hunkering down until the storm passes.  Thank goodness for kind-hearted, generous family members who have offered us shelter for as long as we need it.

And thank goodness for 4-wheel drive.