Archive for December, 2007

The Sweet Smell Of Ketones

Last night, my uncle was complaining about how late one of his mates was. We were having a semi -formal BBQ, with a huge variety of people attending. He was supposed to arrive at least an hour before, and as a result there were a lot of people all looking at each other not knowing what the correct etiquette regarding “should we wait or should we eat?”. Just as my Uncle Ryan pulled out his phone. the guest rumbled up the driveway in  his slick little car, much to the delight of the hosts, as they really didn’t want to start the proceedings without him.

I had met this guy, Pat, a year or so ago at a similar function. I was interested and intrigued at how much he had transformed. Those “spare tyres” were completely gone, and all of the men pounced on him, wanting to know his diet secrets and what was going on!  I listened with interest, as there was something not quite right. Pat seemed tired and flat, and had a don’t-care-ish vibe emimating from him.

” Oh it must just be the warmer weather, because I have been drinking so much water and soft drinks as well.”

MY EARS PRICKED UP.

I tried to distract him a little and luckily he forwarded his attention to me. He had a drink bottle with him,  I watched him lovingly swallow each mouthful like it was his last.

I made small  talk with him about various issues..the new Prime Minister, the cricket, and then out of the blue I asked ” Did you forget that the party was on?”

He replied “Ohhhh I slept in. I had to go to the bathroom all night so I slept in this morning.”

I started to feel really sick, and envisaged an ambulance arriving in 15 minutes. I couldn’t believe I was sitting beside a Type 1 Diabetic man who had no idea about how drastically his life was about to change.

He also told me that it had taken 3 months to shake a influenza bug, and that he had athletes’ foot that left his socks ringing wet each day after work.

I asked him “So, how do you feel right this minute?”

He replied, “Oooh look at that sparkling water in the jug over there! Be back in a sec, Kate.”

I was innardly sobbing, and I didn’t know what to do. There was something else about him that told me that he was not well, and needed urgent medical attention. Besides his emaciated body and sunken eyes, there was something else..something else.

He came and sat beside me once more and chugged dowm the water. He put his head back and exclaimed “Wow…..Good water!”

Fruit Tingles. Juicy fruit. Orange lollipops.

His breath was tainted with that very familiar scent that I know so well.
I called Lance for a fingerprick, and he set it up whilst I continued to work out how I was going to tell him.

Lance was 3.5mmol/L- I reached for three Glucodin and asked him to pour a drink of juice. He clumsily poured a cupful and asked me what was going on, his voice tinged with urgency.

“Pat. do you have anyone in your family with Type 1 Diabetes- I mean, dependent on insulin injections? Or Type 2 Diabetes?” I asked, as my son’s head lolled about in my arm.

“Ok, well I need you to sit with me and stay here until Lance has recovered.” He agreed, and rubbed Lance’s forehead and told him that his Mum was like Superwoman.

I tested Lance again, and he had shot up to 8.6mmol/L. Perfect. He resumed playing.

“Pat, were you thinking about going to the doctor in the near future about how you are feeling?” I asked, frantically.

“Oh..well I will make it my New Years Resolution then and get my bloods tested, OK? He laughed as he said OK, as if I was trying to hassle him out.

I took a deep breath. and I said, “Pat, this is unbearable to say to you, and I don’t know how to say this other than I think you could have Type 1 Diabetes. I mean the condition that my son has.”

A lone tear ran down my cheek as I looked into his green, watery eyes.

“How do you know? I mean, that’s a big call to make!!” he said with a slight quiver in his voice.

I know, I know..it’s just that I know this condition back to front. I mean, I could be wrong, but it doesn’t look great. I can tell you if you want to know right now.”

“HOW??”he exclaimed, this time sounding angry.

“Well. I can give you a fingerprick test now.” We will know the answer in seconds.”

He stared at me and held out his finger on his left hand, totally numb. He was still, I could hear his breathing quivering as he waited for the result.

I stared into his eyes and squeezed his hands as we waited for the beep.

And there it was.

23.8mmol/L.

I swallowed back so many tears and then held out a Ketone Strip. I told him how to use one and he looked horrified that I had ordered him to urinate on a strip of paper. I think he knew that I was deadly serious.

He came out with the demeanour of a  young boy, shuffling his feet, hands in his pockets.
How do I tell this boy that he needs to go to hospital as he has large ketones and four pluses of glucose in his urine. For a few seconds, I thought it must have been a dream. However, the evidence is front of me all pointed to the nightmare that this young guy was about to go through.

I went and got my Uncle, and gave him the rundown very quickly. He grabbed Pat and buried his sobbing face in his shoulder. Uncle Ryan asked everyone if they would mind going home as there was an emergency. Pat was rushed to hospital and was admitted with Diabetic Ketone Acidosis, and dehydration. One minute, he was chatting to a bunch of people, the next, he was hospital with a life threatening condition. His AIc was 9,2 and  his real BGL was 30.2mmol/L.

He is in intensive care right now, but I will be able to see him tomorrow.It’s all  just another perfect example of type 1 diabetes choosing who it wants, no family history of any pancreatic illnesses were able to be traced, including either Diabetes..and being in the right place at the right time.

Insulin is not a cure.

Anyone who wishes to send get well wishes may do so to Pat. He can do with all of the positive encouragement and kind words he can deal with as he learns to accept his new life. Leave any messages in the comment boxes below. I can take my laptop to show him when he is recovered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

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Project365:Australia:Day 25: Diabetes: A Family Disease

Dear Diabetes

You and I have a tumultuous relationship. Over the past 5 years, I have finally accepted that you are not going anywhere. If I am respectful and dutiful to you, you often return the favour, other times you spit in my face. Without sounding dramatic, I have finally accepted that you will always consume my every thought, and that the life I had is totally non-existent, never to return.

For starters, the shock and disbelief that you had ever-so-cunningly invaded my baby’s body without me even realising leaves me with chills and tears spilling onto my desk. I look at photographs of my baby Lance 3 months before diagnosis and I cannot tear my eyes away, because I know that you had already begun the beta cell revolt in his body. His piercing screams in the middle of the night had already confirmed that you were destroying these virtually perfect, brand new cells. ( The doctor’s initially diagnosed these screaming episodes night terrors.)

When you had caused the most of your devastation, the real symptoms came out in my son. Insatiable thirst, 24 wet nappies a day, lethargy, sunken eyes, screaming for no reason (apparently your earlier “night terrors” were severe leg cramps.) You also would have had had nausea, abdominal pains, you had thrush and ulcers in your mouth and on your genitals, and the most horrible side effect of all is that you lost a fifth of your body weight in 4 days. I knew you had diabetes, purely because of your lust for water-you were literally drinking it and passing it straight through-and drinking up to two litres a day.

At the hospital I sat whilst you were examined and I was asked my whole medical history and your short medical history. I looked back and we made phone calls: There was no cases of Type 1 or 2 Diabetes in your maternal or paternal families, even going back 3 generations.  The paediatrician carefully examined your feet, looked closely into your flinching eyes, and then started you on a drip. In amongst all of this terror, two things happened. I read an information sheet about the pre-symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes. You had every single symptom,in its most extreme form. The phrases “insulin dependent,” ” your son will die without his injections,” ” constant care” were carefully explained to me.

I spent a week at the Mater Children’s Hospital learning how to care for you and asking questions all day, all night to anybody who would listen. I read nursing journals with chapters specialising about Type 1 Diabetes, I was introduced to JDRF and Diabetes Australia and given tremendous support by their extensive “what-to-do-when-your-child-is -diagnosed-with-Type 1Diabetes” support information. The nurses and paediatric endocrinologists were living saints.

We were finally allowed to take you home after six gruelling days spent in a hospital ward.

The drive home was surreal. It felt like everything was different, and nothing would be the same, even though we had done that drive hundreds of times before.

I had a beautiful and highly acknowledged nursery of wild and exotic plants that I lovingly nurtured and took meticulous care of. It was my private sanctuary. When we finally got you home, I forgot all about them, not out of lack of wanting to, but because I was on 100% patrol. Night duty, sleep duty, working out how I could distract Lance from the injection in his soft little tummy that he had to have before he ate.

(One night I went out to sit and ponder with my plants, who all had a different story to them, and there they stood, dead or lifeless  in their pots. I didn’t even care. I tried to salvage a few, but I realised that I wouldn’t have the time to nurse them back to health.  I had my own real life Special Care Unit operating inside the house. I had let them perish without a thought, as my son was so much more important. It was a very poetic moment. I didn’t open the door to the nursery ever again until I moved out of that house. )

Going out was the worst part. Not only did I have a nappy bag, I had a bag full of doctors’ numbers, glucometers, glucogon pens, spare clothes and nappies, bottles of water, bottles of apple juice..something to cover every diabetic complication.

Family and friends started talking about things that Lance did as a baby, and how wonderful his first birthday was, and even his attachment to favourite toys. I would stare in his room and focus only on the the things that would keep him safe that day. It soon occurred to me that I had absolutely no recollection of Lance’s life pre-diabetes. Some hazy bits about his birth are there, but there is no way that my sub- conscience is ready to give in and let me see the life that was.

After mentioning it to my GP, I was referred to a psychologist who diagnosed me with  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even today, I only have photos and video footage and my family’s stories to rely upon concerning my baby’s life as a person without Type 1 Diabetes. Occasionally, I will see a baby in a pram smile behind a dummy, and I will have a quick flash of  Lance as a baby doing the exact same thing, but before I have time to savour the memory, it’s vanished again.

Before you gatecrashed our life, I was a fashionable cosmopolitian woman, who knew the entire goings on in the city. The first thing that I did when Lance was diagnosed, was bought myself an expensive eye cream, because I knew I was going to need it.

 I was right. This year, I turned 30, and I look at photos of myself as a young 24 year old mother with joyous, laughing eyes. These days, they are dull, and lifeless, and there is no time for the eye makeup that I used to wear to play up my red locks.

I was so touched that Lance’s father (who, even though I am separated from since 2003; we are still close friends because we want to be, and for Lance’s sake) presented me with a package for Christmas this year.

In this photo, is a small, expensive but amazing jar of eye cream. Even after the most traumatic nights, when honey and lemonade, strips and lancets are strewn from one end of the room to the other, an application of Clinique “All Around Eyes”can make you feel like you can face another day, no matter how fabulous or terrible it is. When people come to the door, I don’t feel like I am a closet alcoholic because I able to look them directly in the eye with confidence and not have them notice that my eyes are almost slits, ot thst I  look like I am literally dead inside. It’s amazing that a container so small could contain so much power and make me feel so positive about the New Year.

A little jar of pick-me-up cream

 

Diabetes makes me feel like I don’t need “that new dress” or
“that new haircut,” because I am constantly thinking about saving money for an Insulin Pump or even a trial that could be ongoing in the Eastern States. It makes me put myself last. Naturally, I have Lance’s primary needs to cater for; food, clothing, shelter, education, and then his health requirements- special low GI foods,expensive gluten free products, and supplies to keep him alive.

Then there is Diabetes. I save money for an emergency flight or for an Insulin Pump, which I know is going to change Lance’s life for the better. I always have to keep money aside for after hours doctor’s visits as well- because Diabetic complications are reknowned for appearing one minute on a Friday afternoon after the Doctor’s Surgery have shut. Weekend pharmacies are also a money vacuum- you can easily hand  over $50 and get coinage in return.

Our pets, Chino and Luna provide love and comfort. In return, it’s a pleasure to provide them with the foods that they like.

And then there’s me. I t’ll be my turn after the dentist and the insulin pump. 😀

Insulin is not a cure.

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The Bi-Weekly Kitten-Chosen by Lance

Jingle jingle jingle-ahh it’s my milk being poured!

Everyone who owns a cat is a cat-watcher.

-Roger Caras, A Catch is Watching (1989)

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My Pets Met Santa!

On Christmas Eve, I was so worried that Chino and Luna would disturb Santa whilst he was leaving his presents.

Santa ended up having such a good time at our house that he left his hat here, and I thought I’d show you some pictures of my pets and what they got up to this Christmas.

The last present that was in my sack was a ten pin bowling set. Chino’s eyes were gleaming when he saw me with these fun plastic toys that would be great to chew up!

Chino wants the Skittles!!

I thought I better distract him and take him outside.  We had our ususal game of chasing each other until he is puffed out or I need a sugar drink! I think in this photo it looks like he is laughing!

Chino’s first Christmas!

So, then we came inside and Mum had made us mango and banana smoothies for breakfast.
We heard a lot of noise going on, and it was Luna, our cat playing in the tinsel.

Luna in the tinsel

Then, my Dad came and took us to his Dad’s house. Chino travels in the back with me. Here he is waiting for us to leave. He is very impatient, especially when he knows he is going visiting!

Chino wants to go NOW!

Luna stayed home, but Chino and Mum and I were out ALL day, visiting people and saying Merry Christmas. Chino got treats from our grandparents, and also from Santa.

By the time we got home, Luna was outside, waiting for us to come home. Chino raced up and they had a play fight. They both raced inside for their dinner. Afterwards, Mum and I were tiptoeing around, and laughing, taking pictures of them together.

Snuggle buddies

All of the excitement of the day had made Chino and Luna exhausted!!!

My next post will be all pictures of all my toys from Santa, and from my friends.

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Scattergories by Kate

My niece sent me this little word game that Lance and I attempted before bed. It is actually harder that it looks! It’s a mini version of Scattergories; you have to answer each question with a letter beginning with your name, and it has to be a real word. We’d love to see some copy/paste answers in the comments section!!            

What is your name?: Kate

Four letter word: Kick

Movie: Kids

TV Show: Kath and Kim

Kath and Kim-Hornbags

City: Kalgoorlie

Boy Name: Kristov

Girl Name: Katia

Refreshing Drink: Kiwi Fruit Juice

Occupation: Knife Sharpener

Something you wear: Kimono

Nihon-jin onna-no hito

Food: King Prawns

Something Found In A Bathroom: Kleenex

Reason For Being Late: Killed

Cartoon Character: Krusty The Clown

Krusty

Something you shout: Knockout!

 

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2 Different Conditions, Both Called Diabetes

“Well. At least you know that all of the fizzy drinks and junk food eventually caught up with him…and now….Penny, Penny! Did you hear the latest? Poor Kate here, her young Lance,  1year old, and because of not enough fruit and veg and wholesome foods, and a little too much of the take away diet routine (ummm where did these ludicrous assumptions come from!), the poor little 

baby has ended up with Diabetes. What a cross to bear!! Well, thank Goodness that we have such fantastic staff here at the hopsital, hopefully they will be able to get his weight down(!!!) and he won’t even have to take tablets. Oh your poor love. This it a hard lesson to learn but at least you’ll be prepared when the next one comes along!” Mwah, mwah, followed by a stiffened hug by Penny. They both sashayed away with the most extreme pity in their eyes, but with a slight ” serve yourself right” thrown in for good measure. I sat down on the floor of the hospital parents’ room and bawled my eyes out, my body involunarily jerking and the inablity to catch my breath. 

Then I started to get angry…Lance was still breastfed!  I didn’t drown his diet in preservatives..he had never tasted soft drink in his life!! He was bought up on fresh vegetables and fruit, bread, fish rice and the best cuts of meat. If I was going to be responsible for this little cherub for the next 16 years, I was determined to do a fine job of it. However, everybody else looked upon me with sorrow in their eyes, the corners of their mouths’ upturned.

 It didn’t take me long to work out that in the “noughties” the term juvenile diabetes was axed and replaced by the World Health Organisation as Type 1 Diabetes. As with Mature Onset Diabetes; it became Type 2 Diabetes. It wasn’t until I spent a morning waiting for Lance’s endocrinologist at the Diabetes Clinic I had a practical experience in the differences between the two.

Specialists are often late,so I began chit-chat with the mother,who was very practised with trying to speak to me as she fought her teenage daughter for a finger prick and ingored her well-rehearsed ranting as she tried to get a blood sample. I felt tinglings of panic…

“Is she low?”  I asked, on my feet about to get help.

“Well no, she’s probably high. She’s very angry.” replied Dr Mum.

At this stage I was very much  on my L Plates, however,  I used the opportunity to listen and watch carefully.

Dr Mum managed to get a blood sample. She was correct. 20.5mmol/L.

The girl sat with a scowl on her face and jiggled her foot up and down. He mother placed a small white pill into her hand, and got a plastic cup and filed it with mountain spring water. The girl shook her head vehemently from side to side, and began kicking the floor. I wondered why on earth that this mother didn’t have her insulin kit out! Half of this episode would be over by now!

A young intern-ish doctor came and gently placed his hand through the teenager’s, so that he was holding her inner elbow. The mother began to follow.

“TO hell with you!! You aren’t coming anywhere near with me! You make up lies!!”

 Dr Mum busied herself by packing her daughter’s backpack. Out of the blue,she looked up at me and said.”Mine’s got Type 2 Diabetes. You won’t have to worry about anything like that.”

I nodded quickly and asked if she needed any help.

She replied that her daughter had always been overweight, and at 13, the blatant unmistakable Diabetes symptoms appeared. She started on insulin, and actually preferred it. However, a blister on her foot would not heal and she was still very thirsty and tired. The doctor’s reassessed her, and rediagnosed her with Type 2 Diabetes.

She was on strict medication, strict diet, and a strict exercise regime to lose to excess weight, all in an attempt to stay off insulin injections.

At that point, I realised that I needed to test Lance. 10.8. Fabulous, considering we were out of our comfort zone.

“10.8! That’s wonderful! How long has he been diagnosed?” Dr Mum asked with increasing interest.

“You know, you are going to cop a beating with the public thinking your little boy is a Type 2 Diabetic. You’ll get asked a whole range of offensive questions.”I relayed the ones that I had already come across.

“Tip of the iceberg,” she said. “You are up for much, much worse.”

The media’s passion for showing the typical person with Type 2 is wrong. There are many, young, fit. determined Type 2 ‘s who happen to have a case of bad genetics on their side,  are from a particular racial background, or just have a dodgy pancreas. I recently came in touch with Dae who is fit, young, brimming with energy and life and someone I hope to remain friends with. She is not your stereotypical Type 2 Diabetic, and I was so relieved when we found each other.

Recently, again I was heartbroken to learn that 2000 Australians diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes each year are children, and our nation has the highest rate of increased Type 1 Diabetes in the world. Yet, do we ever see an advertisement of a child or a young adult pricking their finger? What-to-do-in-a -hypo poster in a workplace? NO.  5 years on, and it’s still as hidden as it ever was. Little breakthroughs come and go, the media grab onto a cure story that has the Type 1 community at a standstill, but that soon fades into the distance when somebodys’ grandmother is diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. 

“Get out there and tell the media about what it’s like to inject your son, have him fall unconcious on you in the middle of the street, how it would feel have your son turn blind when he was twenty, 1000 needles a year..that  sort of news will soon get the phrase Type 1 segragated from Type 2. My daughter is of Aboriginal Descent. She always overate and ate rubbish, her grandparent’s are both amputees from Diabetes complications. She drinks, smokes…her life is a death sentence, and there is nothing anyone can do  except her.”

I remember feeling a lot of fear and anxiety at this moment. I looked at Lance’s tiny foot, the size of Stuart Little and imagined it hacked off at the ankle. Diabetes Clinics are not enlightening places to go to when you’re a newbie.

Dr Mum leapt up as her daughter re-appeared. Her daugher hugged her Mum and said, “My levels are down and I feel really bad that I yelled at you. I just hate this place and I feel like a volcano is about to erupt in me when we are here.”

Dr Mum introduced her daughter to me, and she told her how Lance would be on insulin injections for the rest of his life. She was silent and looked away. After a second or two, she looked back and said “Aw poor little fella. How are you going to deal with that matey?”

She had tears brimming out of her eyes and she asked if she could hug Lance. She wiped her tears and held him on her hip. She held his little hand in his.

“You prick these little fingers?” she asked.

“Sure do honey, he’s only been diagnosed a few weeks so I don’t know where he stands at the moment.”

“And his needles? Where does he get those? In his arm?”

“No.In his tummy. Just a few centimetres away from his belly button.”

“OUCH! NO! I was getting insulin in my arm! Why do you give it in his belly?”

And so the questions went on. Two people, two different ages, two different races, two different conditions.

Yet if there was a News Camera, there, they would have been branded as “diabetics” or “Type 1 diabetics” or “Type 2 diabetics.” Is it any wonder that the likes of Penny and Co get mixed messages?

Mixed messages or not..it still hurts, even now, to be looked upon as if I caused this.

Who would possibly choose this life for their child? For their loved one?

Bite me, Penny.

 

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The Bi-Weekly Kitten -Chosen By Lance

th_catdiabetes.jpg

 Obese cats are far less

common than obese

dogs (or obese people.)

 Desmond Morris

CATLORE (1987)

Note from Lance: I hate what the people who wrote Type 2 Diabeetus were trying to say. I am trying to educate people about how young people with Type 2 Diabetes don’t have to be overweight or drink lots and lots of soda. Besides, I like this cat. He would be very cuddly, and I bet he would have a loud purr.

 

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