Sunday, 2 January 2022

"To heal is to touch with love that which we previously touched with fear" - Stephen Levine

Surviving 2020 - almost a whole year of physical, mental and emotional challenges/turmoil seemed huge. Little did the world know 2021 would throw its share of curveballs and uncertainty - making it as hard or harder than 2020 from a pandemic perspective.

I think the isolation and divisiveness has traumatized much of the world, and that doesn't even take into account the normal life challenges that would normally be mentally exhausting on their own.

When Emily was diagnosed in March with Type 1 diabetes after almost a week at Childrens, I started having anxiety attacks all day long shortly after we got home. My family would randomly find me laying on the floor with my legs up in the air (or against a wall) trying to breath through the racing heart and feeling like I was going to puke or pass out.

I've been on cipralex - an anti depressant used for anxiety - since after I completed my cancer treatment but was paralyzed with fear about re-occurrence. I'm such a lightweight when it comes to drugs that I only needed half a pill (5mg) to settle the anxiety. It now helps with my hot flashes from the hysterectomy.

When the all day panic attacks started after we got home from the hospital with Em's new diagnosis, the 5mg wasn't cutting it.  I had to up it to a full pill a day. That allowed me to function again and settled the panic attacks. 

I dropped back down to half a pill a month  later when it seemed like we had a better hold on things. Then Em hit a very rough patch emotionally as her new reality started to hit her of living with constant insulin injections every time she ate, I unraveled again. Some of my biggest fears as a parent left me once again laying on the floor, legs up, breathing through the anxiety.

It was made worse by my thinking all the stress would lead to a stroke (...and what would Phil do on his own? and what if he had a stroke and kids were orphaned? and...and...and...)

Talking to Andrea- one of the few people I opened up to - we decided maybe staying on the full pill for all the firsts of the first year of diagnosis might not be a bad idea. I could re-evaluate then. My amazing family doc agreed and was very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. Once we upped the dose, the panic attacks settled again.

Em found her way out of the darkness and is in a much better place with regards to her diagnosis. We started an insulin pump at the end of November and this disease is finally starting to feel like a part of our lives and not the main event. 

And then my Grandma died December 1. Her quality of life had been decreasing the last few months especially but she was the fiery, funny, matriarch of our family and honestly a world without out her seemed...not possible. My family lives out east, and every single trip back, there was always lots of visits with Grandma. I have never visited and not seen her. I think the first trip back will be hard.

There are some other things going on that have made me really hate 2021 but they are not things for me to share or talk about as they are not mine to share. I don't say this to be evasive, but just to say without Covid and all that has entailed, 2021 would have been one of the most challenging and heartbreaking years. Ever.

All this to say I think a lot of us are hurting or have been through tough things this year - silently. I know for me I feel like it's been hard for the whole world - how can I justify laying my burdens on anyone else?

It's made me turn into my family and made it very hard to see friends I desperately want to see. How do I answer the question "how have you been" without lying or sounding like "poor me" when I know their dealing with their own stuff?

I am scared of what will happen if I do go there. Tears this year have been few. Its just been easier to bury the hard feelings then deal with them.

And I guess that's why I felt the need to write this post. I don't want to go into 2022 - a year full of new beginnings - making the same unhealthy decisions. Now that we have a much better hold on the diabetes stuff, I want to "un pause" my life. Because that's how its felt the last year (maybe 2). Like its been paused - while I try to just keep my head above water (often unsuccessfully).

Maybe I haven't given myself enough grace for what we have had to adjust to, but I feel like now its time to grow again - not simply exist.

I want to be a better friend.
A better parent.
A better daughter.
A better Sister.
A better wife.

That list completely overwhelms me to be honest. So I'll take it one step at a time. I'll try to remember its ok to not get it perfect. To make mistakes. But I need to learn from them, and build from those lessons. 

They say you can't pour from an empty cup. The pandemic has made it easier than ever to eat unhealthy, not exercise and isolate from friends. Going through cancer taught me when I exercise and eat well, I feel good. Really good - and that motivates me to take on challenges.

So I'm starting with doing dry January. I've gained weight and have found eliminating booze is a good way to drop a few pounds even if nothing else changes. Since "dry January" is a thing, I won't be doing it alone...I'm hoping some friends will do it with me...

And I'm going to be more mindful of taking Steve for his daily walks. It's an easy way to get simple exercise and I'm more motivated to do it cause he needs his daily walks.

We can't know what 2022 holds, but I agree the mindset you go into something - in this case a new year - is important. 

So instead of taking on the world Jan 1, and getting so overwhelmed I quit, I'll take it one day at a time. I'll make a list of some of the things I want to tackle, and figure out a system to tackle them, in baby steps.

I'm going into 2022 not fiercely, but gently. And I hope that makes all the difference.

Monday, 12 April 2021

"The best advice I've ever received: No one else knows what they are doing either". - Charles Bukowski

It's amazing what a few hours of sleep can do. I got about 3 hours and woke when the nurse came in for bloodwork.

Em is perkier and squeamish about getting bloodwork - a good sign. She had been woken up every hour. She's not a fan of finger pokes, which they'd been doing pretty regularly since we got to Children's.

Breakfast comes and my wonderful girl says she will be ok for a few while I (literally speed walk) to get a mocha down the hall to bring back. We are on the 4th floor and its so handy having a coffee shop on the same floor! I go grab one (with extra whip!) and head back.

The doctors come in. They check on Em and start talking to me. Once Em is more stable, (her blood sugars that is) we'll meet her Endo team...


It's the team that will follow her until she's 18. Dietitian, Endocrinologist, Nurses and Psychologist (social worker too if need be).

Jeeze she's got her own medical team! Guess diva runs in the family lol

The Doc's tell me there will be learning in the clinic and to have Phil come. 

Hooray he can join us!!!

We are still awaiting Emily's Covid test, so are still in isolation (she can't leave the room until it comes back negative). We don't have to wear masks while in her room - which is really nice.

Small victories, but I'll take them where I can get them. I feel almost manic - immense relief that I don't have to do this alone, and try to relay the info to Phil. I talk to Phil. He tells me he broke down last night when telling Ethan and Ethan cried too. So Ethan slept in my spot in our bed.

Not sure who was more of a comfort to who. My heart feels better that they have each other right now and me and Em do too.

I text the parents, call them and Em sleeps.

She eats a bit - no more nausea! Yay!

She has a TV too so we put it on as background noise but she's bagged still and sleeps. When she's awake she's so alert. My panic has subsided some.

I text my boss. I can't even think about work. He tells me not to worry, he'll keep the team updated. My whole world is in this room so I'm thankful for him taking care of that for me.

Phil arrives and relief floods through me. 

Shortly after the diabetes nurse comes in  to teach us She brings 2 pens that have  needles on the end. 

These are Em's pens. She'll need 4 shots a day - 2 of each kind.

Oh God.

We will give them to her.


We can start practicing while in hospital so we'll be comfortable when we get home. She has a whole bag of stuff. She shows us how to open the insulin package, and add the vile to the pen, and how to prime the pen by clicking 2 units and pressing it out. She tells us we have to always confirm the dose with another pair of eyes. 

Oh God. We are gonna be responsible for shots? OMG there's a cloudy and a clear one - one is long acting, one is short acting but how will we know when to give which one?? They just seem to know. I know they are different, but there's no will I know which to use when??

How do the nurses keep this all straight?

We are given a log book to keep track of her numbers and doses. OMG. So much to remember. What if we screw up? Her life is in our hands. 

There's ketone sticks that we have to check her urine when her blood sugar is over 14. The nurses have been making her pee after each finger poke because she's way over 14 still so that part I can remember. But everything else?

Why is this happening to Em? A few days ago our lives were just chugging along. Now its needles and 4 shots and carb counts.

Carb counting?! OMG

Everything...there's "free food?! How will we keep this all straight?

We got a big green binder.


When the nurse is explaining the 4 shots, Em pales.

"4 shots?!" 

I see tears in her eyes. My heart hurts. Oh babygirl how I wish I could carry this for you...

By the time supper comes the nurse asks if we want to give Em her shot. We ask if we can watch. Finger poke first. They give us a kit for that too...finger poker (less hard than the hospital one - finer needle!) a glucose monitor and test strips. 

Em is not wanting anymore pokes. I can feel her stress rising.

We get the finger poke done (the nurse does) but now there's tears and she's adamantly refusing to get the insulin poke.

This is awful.

Will we have to hold her down when we are home? OMG I can't do that to her....but she'll get sick without insulin. We are in a no win situation.

The nurse convinces her to get it and its done! She made it look ok. Except for Em not wanting the are we going to get her to let us do that 4 times a day?!

Her dinner appetite is great - she finishes almost everything. What she doesn't eat they "replace" with juice. 

OMG so many things to learn. How did they know what to replace? With what?

Phil, Em, and I chat and when it comes to the bedtime shot, Phil volunteers to do it.

I watch in awe. I'm nervous. He looks calm. It's done!

Phil leaves and I crawl into bed with Em. We snuggle and watch TV and talk. Just us girls. Feels nice and safe laying here together. She's not tired.

It's almost midnight but she's spend most of the day asleep.

"Wanna go for a walk?" I ask her.

"Now mom?!"

"Ya, why not?"

So we get up, put slippers and shoes on and sneak out of her room like naughty children and walk around the unit. We get back, she lays down and very shortly is asleep.

I have a GREAT sleep on the daybed.

I think the first, albeit tiny, spark of hope was lit tonight. 

As long as we are together we'll get through this.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Blindsided on Some Idle Monday

Well 2.5 weeks ago our lives changed again!

Nope not cancer.

But my 11 year old daughter Emily got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes...its not in the family, so it was a complete shock...

Let me start from the day our world was rocked..

Emily got 2 vaccines on Thursday afternoon at school  She then slept all weekend which didn't concern us too much because it was listed as a side effect. She had also been more tired about 2 weeks leading up to this point, and her appetite was off. I was starting to wonder if there may be an eating disorder - because how could she not be hungry almost all the time? 

Anyways so she slept basically all weekend. Sun around 11pm the vomiting started. Now I was wondering if it was a stomach bug, or could it be a reaction to the vaccine? Its been like 4 days so seems late but maybe...She and I are up all night and she is throwing up pretty much every hour and is insanely thirsty. She actually sneaks water in between, which she can't keep down.

Understandably she's exhausted the next morning. I take a day vacation from work because I'm so exhausted as well. Oh and Phil had all 4 wisdom teeth out on the previous Wednesday under general anesthetic so he's still on heavy pain meds and still recovering.

We finally get to the point that she's keeping pedialite down. I'm only letting her have a sip every 10 minutes. Then we graduate to 1 shot every 10 minutes. She's begging me for water but I don't want her to throw it up. I notice one time as she walks to the bathroom in her underwear and sports bra that she's lost weight. Like she's skinny - and not in a good way. Now I'm more worried about an eating disorder. Her face is pale and her eyes look sunken. She looks gaunt.

I'm super worried.

I decide I'll call our family doctor and get her in this week and go from there. If she suspects the same, we can go from there.

Around 1 pm or she goes in the bathroom and is in there a while. She's up to 2 shots of pedialite every 10 min and has had a few slices of banana to see if she can keep that down. So far so good. 

We have hopefully taken a turn for the better now!

Then I open the door to the bathroom, and she's sitting on the toilet (as a seat not going to bathroom) and looks kinda dazed.

"Em are you ok? Shall we go back to the recliner to sleep?"

"I can't. I just want to sleep. I feel like I'm gonna pass out..."

She crawls onto the bathroom carpet and closes her eyes.

I'm immediately concerned.

This is NOT normal. Something is very wrong.

"Em, is it time to go to the hospital?"

She nods.

Panic sets in. Do I call 911? I've been up all night - am I in any shape to drive? Phil is still on pain meds so shouldn't drive.  With Covid only 1 of us can go with her - what if she passes out in the car?

I call our friends Kyle and Aimee, panic slowly rising. Aimee is a paramedic so I ask her. I've been on hold for over 10 min with 811 and its telling me the wait time is longer than normal due to covid.

Aimee asks a bunch of questions then calmly reassures me she doesn't sound in imminent danger but yes she agrees Em should see a doctor. Likely at least severe dehydration, so she can get some fluids by IV.

I start to cry.

She talks calmly and assures me its ok to call 911 if I can't drive or don't feel comfortable driving. She looks up wait times for me and all the hospitals are over 2hrs but urgent care (10 min away) is only 30 minutes. I ask if it should be Children's - she again reassures me if Em needs to be transferred we can get an ambulance ride there from Urgent care. We decide on Urgent care to get her in ASAP.

Em needs Phil's help to get down the stairs - he's almost carrying her. My panic continues to rise.

We load the whole family into the car. We call parents, and ask Phil's to meet us at urgent care to get him and Ethan.

Em needs a wheelchair to go in because she doesn't have the strength to walk or wait in lines. I keep telling myself its all going to be ok, its just cause she needs fluids and was up all night.

My stomach is in knots.

There is a line up now. Apparently everyone decided they needed urgent care. I scan the crowd. No one else looks as bad as Em.

Its comforting and scary all at once - we should be seen quickly.

We get to the admin nurse and after bp, questions, she pauses, tells the other nurse to get a bed ready.

My stomach lurches.

I'm texting Phil, Andrea and the parents in a group string.

10 min later, we are called to the back. We are going into a covid isolation room because of the vomiting.

They immediately get her an IV. She barely responds. Em is terrified of needles. I'm even more worried from her lack of response.

They take blood, ask for urine sample when she can, poke her finger and hook up her IV with fluids.

Finally something to help!

Then the nurse starts asking about diabetes.


No, its not in the family. Yes, she's been drinking more, but we are big water drinkers. hmm, ya there was fruity breath, but that was from her not brushing her teeth well enough with her braces...Well ya, she's been tired the last couple of weeks, but she's a tween so that's normal right?


The nurse pats my hand and says the doc will be with us shortly.

I text Phil.

Doc tells me they are gonna see what the bloodwork shows and go from there. She's dehydrated and the fluids will help

Ok. Makes sense. I text Phil.

An hour or so later the doc and nurse come to see me. Its maybe 9pm now. 

"So Emily will need to be transferred to the Children's"

Time stops. It cant be good if they are both here to tell me that?

"We can't confirm, but suspect that Emily is diabetic..."

My heart shatters and I burst into sobs. WHAT???

The nurse is patting me, Em is out of it and the doc is slowly talking but I'm not hearing any of it. 2 lovely paramedic ladies show up with kind eyes and speak slowly and reassuringly. We are going for an ambulance ride. Oh Em an ambulance ride! She sleeps on.

I text Phil. I don't want to be alone. He's at home with Ethan.


He calls the parents to update them and has to explain what he can to a very scared Ethan.

I'm loaded up with Em in a snow storm into the ambulance in complete shock. I don't know much about diabetes.

But I do know since the pandemic we have been eating badly.

This is all my fault. She is paying the price because we got lazy?! 

OMG I'm the worst parent ever.

I ask the paramedic "we haven't been eating well. Did I do this to her?"

She looks at me, takes my hand and says "This is not your fault. This isn't about eating or foods or diet. It's genetics, viruses etc and not preventable."

Tears fall down my face. But I wonder if she is just trying to be kind. Isn't diabetes when you eat too many sweets? Bad food? Not enough good stuff? it's not in our family - I must have done something wrong. I must have been feeding her the wrong thing. The guilt fills my heart.

We get to the childrens and go into the ambulance bay. Its warm and dry. I follow Emily's stretcher with the paramedics. We stop as they transfer all the info to the nurse at Children's. 

I'm tired. And scared.

So scared.

We get into a small room. Em sleeps through all this except when they do conscious checks to make sure she knows where she is and who she is. they added insulin at Urgent care just before we left.

She looks a tiny bit better. Heart rate isn't as quick.  I try to lay down in the chair but I'm over tired now and my mind wont shut off. And the guilt.....

Docs come in, tell me she's in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which is serious but not uncommon with kids who are first diagnosed. Her sugars were at 20 and normal range is 4-10 (holy shit - even if I don't know what that means exactly) She is Type 1 diabetic (tears) which is an autoimmune disorder where her own body has attacked the beta cells who produce insulin in her pancreas. She stopped producing insulin so now her body can't absorb the energy from any carbs she eats (insulin acts like a key) so her body started to burn the fat for energy and produced key tones in her blood which made her sick. the insulin is already helping, so that's kinda how they can confirm if its diabetes. 

Its not my fault they say - they still aren't sure what exactly causes it but ask about auto-immune diseases. They run in Phil's family so she may have been at higher risk and we didn't know.

Is it really not my fault?! Could that be true?!

I cry again.

They tell us we will be admitted shortly, likely for a few days. She has type 1 which means insulin dependent. She will need insulin for the rest of her life. 

OMG. What does that mean for her?

3AM we get brought up to a room that has a daybed for me! She gets a 2nd IV because her levels of potassium and phosphate are all out of whack too because of the DKA. She's now hooked up to like 5 IV bags.

She looks so small in that bed.

My heart is breaking but I can close my eyes for a few hours because they are checking her every hour. 

Thank God for Alberta Children's Hospital. We are safe here.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Choose Your Hard.

 Although my alcohol blog post that I just posted was from March 2020, its fitting it was posted now as I am currently doing Dry January. 

"But didnt you decide to give up alcohol until you were healed inside?!"

Ya, i drank in the last 8 months of pandemic chaos. I don't have it all figured out yet, especially about where alcohol fits in my life. But it was definitely more mindful drinking. And I'm proud of myself for not falling back into the really bad patterns - with everything going on in the world, it would have been so easy to do.

Were there some days I had more than necessary?


And at the time I beat myself up and was not very kind to myself. But looking back, overall I think I did good...considering. 

But, I know I can do better.

So in 2021 I plan on building on my progress from 2020. It may not have been perfect progress - but there was definitely progress. And I think I need to acknowledge that - even if it wasn't huge. I know for myself it's so very easy to focus on what I could have/should have done instead. But I'm trying something new - I'm going to try to build myself up, instead of tearing myself down (this is actually very difficult for me - I'm my own worst critic). It's also so much easier to do hard things if you have accountability partners, and/or people doing it with you. So I have 3 people in my life who are doing dry January with me!

Isolating myself the last 8 months (longer actually) made things tougher than they needed to be. My 3 accountability partners are a connection. Maybe it's easier to start with connections that are mutually beneficial. We are supporting each other - it's not one way. So there's no guilt or fear of judgement since we are all trying to reach the same goal. And we all find parts of not drinking tough. 

Along with dry January, although cliche, I am determined to get back in shape. In order to be successful, I'm doing it in baby steps. And I'm putting a lot of thought into what has and hasn't worked in the past so I can set myself up for success. 

For example, by focusing on dry january as a part of getting back into shape instead of  as a punishment, it helps me to stay focused and motivated. It lessens the feeling of being deprived because I'm doing it to reach a goal that I will physically see and emotionally feel. It's been 10 days and I'm not finding it too hard so far to not have a beer.

As for getting in shape, I have many options. But aside from walking the dog and some hikes, I've been pretty sedentary. 

I've missed sweating. 

Well ok, maybe not the sweating part itself, but the way I feel after I've moved my body to the sweating point. I know starting will be tough and it won't feel so good (hence putting it off for sooooo long...). But once I push through the beginning, it gets better. A LOT better. Mentally, emotionally and of course physically. When I feel strong, I feel invincible...

I have not felt invincible in a long time.

Looking at pictures and seeing the weight I've gained is hard. Looking at pictures in the past (ironically through cancer treatment and after) when I was fit is harder knowing the work ahead of me. But as the saying goes, you need to chose your hard.

So I'm choosing running. 

Yes you read that right: running. 

Everyone who knows me knows I loathe to run. Well, running for "no reason" anyways...I played soccer most of my life and loved it. But I see running in soccer as with a point - ie trying to kick the ball into the net. Running for the sake of running is not really my idea of fun. I always laugh when I see a meme that says "if you see me running you'd better run too cause it means I'm being chased" - that's me to a tee. I've never been able to run on a treadmill and I watch people who use it to train in amazement! Just like the people who do marathons or the people who just run because they like it

However I will admit it's a good way to sweat in a shorter amount of time than lets say, cycling. When Phil and I go cycling, we are out for a few hours. Being lower on motivation to get started, shorter is definitely better! With the gyms being closed, and us being short on equipment, working out at home is also more challenging. I am currently looking at a few apps that i am going to try, but I didn't want to put off getting my body moving till I had it all sorted. Hence how I came to my decision to start off by running. No equipment needed, no schedules, and you can do it anywhere.

I have the app I used when I started to run while going through chemo. I always felt fabulous after - which says a lot. So I'm putting aside my dislike for my greater good lol. It's a couch to 5k type app called 'Get Running' that's very simple and walks you through each run (and it's free!).

The other reason I've chosen running is that I know I'll hate whatever I start with at the if after I start to get in shape I ditch running, and stick to HIIT type workouts and cycling, it's no loss since I don't like to run anyways. As opposed to starting with riding on my bike trainer, and not enjoying it because it's harder at the beginning. Riding outside is so therapeutic so I don't want to be put off indoors.

And the other thing is that I find running hard. Its challenging and daunting to me. So when I finish a run, I am pumped and proud of myself. Which is helping with the whole "building myself up" mindset shift I'm aiming for.

10 days into 2021 and so far so good...

Friday, 1 January 2021

New Year, Same Me - I’m just going to love her better than ever! - Unknown

Jan 1, 2021

Leave it to me to take a leap with both feet and bare my soul less than a week before the world goes into full shutdown for a pandemic...

In March 2020 I wrote and published 2 blogs, and the third one (before this post) I wrote but didn't morning I got rear ended, ending up with a mild concussion and by the time I could look at a computer without turning green, we were in full lockdown. To be honest, how could I share my story of struggle when now the whole world was turned upside down? There was enough suffering to go around without adding my own to the mix.

At first for us not too much changed. It was like a cocoon being in lockdown - those first few weeks we enjoyed the slower pace of life. We even had a schedule for the kids and a points system for earning things like screen time or junk food (pinterest Mom anyone? Closest I've come ha)

But as anyone knows, 8 months is a long time to live apart. It seemed like on social media that people were doing ok. But I wasn't. The stuff that started me writing my blog again was still there - except now I had the perfect reason to pull away and to disconnect from friends. To hide the pain. We were all in this together, but I was sinking before Covid and I didn’t feel worthy to share that with anyone - after all everybody now had their own corona burdens.

But something amazing happened on New Years Eve. A few people told me they were struggling too - with some of the very same things I was struggling with! I think talking to each other may have been the first time we said anything to anyone (it was hard to do for me!) - and I could have cried with relief that these same people I pulled away from, still love me. That it's not just me - and whether their struggles started with Covid or it exacerbated them doesn't matter. We connected again, and it flipped a switch deep inside.

So today I woke up, and did another hard thing - I took our dog for a run! (I HATE running and have done very little for a LONG time exercise-wise) And I felt happy to sweat...and that I didn't drop dead ha. 

I did another hard thing today posting my previous blog on alcohol. 

The first day of a new year is a good day for hard things I guess 😉