Thursday, August 21, 2014

3 ways you become unpopular in the DAD industry...

There are 3 easy ways to get yourself "unliked" in the DAD world. These points below can lean toward being positive and/or negative.
    1. Say something bold
    Each person has their unique personality, some bolder than others. Sometimes a bold person can come across like a bully; so outspoken and blatant, that other personalities fear to disagree or challenge their statements. Usually that bold person is just a confident extrovert; unless their FB timeline is filled with vague "hater posts." Then Houston, you do have a problem...How such a person handles an open challenge is true to the heart of their being.
          2. Go against what seems popular
    If you go decide to take the road less taken, or carve your own path, that can seem threatening and/or competitive to some. You may be considered ignorant and/or incapable. In contrast, you may create a cheering squad and fan clan. Go you. Be your own boss, but stay humble, please. Keep an open mind to listen and learn from experienced sources. Even if you don't fully agree. Ears and eyes benefit from staying open.
          2b. Cult mentality "It's my way or the highway" Lines are drawn, camaraderie ends.
           3. Slander someone 
    Through the process of discovering "our way" of getting a DAD, I probably did all 3 of these points along the way. Mostly in private, because I knew to keep my cool in "public". Slander is damaging and influencing. Because our family chose to withdraw all of our funds from a DAD organization, slander came OUR way. Despite my feelings, I did not publicly return the favor by name-calling and "out-ing" via social media.
    Difficult people are in our lives; and you are someone's difficult person. It's ok, we all are. I certainly am. What is perspective without some difficult person chiming in? It's not reality to surround yourself with just friends who hang on your every opinion coz they think you are so much alike...You may not agree on politics or religion, but you can learn from difficult people about DADs, if gracious enough to listen.
    Dangerous people are not welcome in our lives. Boundaries need to be in place & they must go.
The truth of the ugly is that service dog ownership is fought for in court, and trainers (even with good reason) have been known to "take back" DADs that do not perform their job properly... Anything goes because this is an unregulated industry. So be smart in your journey. Survival tips HERE

If you listen carefully, there's really only one voice that matters. It's yours. What are you saying? Is it lifting up the industry or tearing it down? Do you know FIRST HAND of what you speak and share? Are you open to 
  1. Being bold with grace and taking responsibility when wrong
  2. Keeping it classy when you pave your own road 
  3. Watching what you vague-book, and to whom you share personal details with...
  4. Kindly managing your difficult people, while eliminating the dangerous ones?
In the US alone, type 1's are merely 8.3% of the population. I would imagine just about 1% of us have diabetic alert dogs.  We are going to find one another. We will network and come across each other more often than not. 
                Try to not burn any bridges- you never know who you may learn from in the process!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why ALS deserves its day= stop comparing it to Type 1 funding ideas

EVERY 90 min someone dies of ALS, (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Dave and 3/4 of their kids back when I knew them
This disease came into my life by name after my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was taking the life of my longtime D.C. friend's dad. The Gillam family were my second family for a time in my life. We shared a cabin, and played endlessly together since we lived 2 houses away from one another. I had dinners and sleepovers alongside the kids. Their dad, Dave, was another father to me; which meant he tolerated my presence, fed me when hungry, and had embarrassing stories to black mail me with later in life.

Dave's wife and my mom are best friends from over 36 years now. Lib came to visit my folks these past years in CA, and I'd hear about the mystery taking Dave's life that went undiagnosed until just over a year before he passed.

Lib and my childhood neighbor and friend, Sara
His oldest and only daughter was married this past summer, to which I happily attended. There was not a dry eye in the house anytime Dave was mentioned. It was a beautiful day and tribute to a loving man and incredible father.

This bucket challenge has affected our nation, gone viral in social media, and has some putting the letters "A, L, & S" together for the first time.

What was my first instinct alongside many of you? The obvious: "What about _____" (fill in the cause you care about, the illness you seek cured).
Another instinctual thought, "Can we do this for diabetes?"

The Logic: Type 1 diabetes took my best friends life from her, it almost took my son's life...
Then I recalled a very SIMPLE concept explained yesterday to my young son.
A neighbor of elementary school age shared that he got a cup with his name on it and was very excited about it. Instead of sharing in his joy, my son exclaimed, "I just got one, too!" (which happens to be true).
My husband simply explained, "Share in your friend's joy and excitement for his new things, don't 'one up' him about it. It seems like you missed the point of why they told you in the first place; which was to SHARE it with you."

The reality: We should rejoice with ALS having "its day".  This disease has had little to no exposure, and has not been researched like many other diseases. There is no taste in "me too-ing" the challenge gone viral. Bad form in copy-cat-ing. (In my humble opinion).

Dave and his oldest son, Michael, (from picture above)
with Michael's girlfriend, Stephanie.
More reality: (please view video HERE of former NFL Saint/ALS sufferer Steve Gleason doing it nude. (Don't worry, it's G-rated, parents)!

The man who began the challenge, Corey Griffin, unfortunately died this past week. He was on a mission to raise awareness for his friend. "Griffin was a friend of Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player with ALS who is credited with inspiring the ice bucket challenge. So far it's raised more than $11 million."
(from article link HEREPlease consider this for a moment when wanting to fundraise for a cure:

  • Have you set the example and donated yourself?
  • Are your friends and family aware of your cause?
  • Have you EVER partnered with the organization of choice to find the cure?

If so, you are less than 10% of Type 1 people.  (We are only 8.3% of the US population).
Let that sink in.

Two ladies I "social media stalk" (because they are experienced & wise), and have shared their perspective which is very similar to my own. They are the power couple of the DOC (diabetic online community), good friends miles apart, and when you read on you will see:
Moira McCarthy, author of "Raising Teens with Diabetes", who recently funded $28k of the 1.2million raised in the Ride to Cure for JDRF says," Why not do what I did 17 years ago and

  • do research on what you are passionate about
  • find an org that supports it then...
  • join up with their events and raise donations and awareness."

Makes sense and a bit....unachievable, you say? I'd see her encouragement as "reaching for the stars," except I have had some success with fundraising recently. With no guide or trend to copy-cat, I did what I had done 22 yrs ago to raise money for a Guatemala mission trip. I sent snail mail. My dad helped me; he has been the fundraising coordinator for major non-profits. He gave me the "secret formula" again when we needed $15k for a service dog, and it worked. In 5 months we had all the money asked for. It was unbelievable, and I cried in gratitude every day we got a response card. Read more HERE on how to do this, too. I did not "crowd fund" or get a news team to feature our story, I merely asked those (not even immediately) within our family and friends circle. And it happened.

It took a few years to "come down" from all the work it took to find our way in the diabetic alert dog industry. By the time it settled, the family of my best friend (who died from T1 complications) and I decided last min to team up for a walk for the CURE (diabetes). We invited everyone we knew and literally had step by step ideas and guiding on HOW to raise money form the website once we registered. I did it every way but the way I had for our dog. Can't even say we got much more than $600 in the few weeks we "went at it" because we did not do it the same way. The yogurt shop that offered a dollar sneaker to put on their wall raised $50 from the community. The shop owner, donated $200 because we have known her for many years (and we didn't even ask)!

It's our relationship to people that makes things "happen"
Do your friends know your passion for awareness and to CURE?
If they don't; start there. Get moving on speaking up. SHARE IT. 
L-R Jonathan, Michael (me) and Mark. the brothers
I never had...
I know about ALS because of the Gillam family. I cried with, and hugged these boys just a few months ago; and now I am elated to share in their victory for ALS awareness and research. I haven't personally gotten the bucket challenge, but I don't need to. I just need a link to know where to donate. Do I need to be asked? Not at all, because there is so much hype on it.

Type 1 needs HYPE, and we are the only ones to generate it. November 14 is World Diabetes Day and we have a choice.
We can unintentionally sound like my 9yr old son, (from the cup story), or we can start the awareness where it deserves to be noticed; where it makes the most sense. 
What's the plan of action? Who knows. It's been suggested by Moira's better half, (insert friend humor), Michelle Weisenberg, " Maybe just post "hope" on our hands and ask others to do the same? But not call it a 'challenge'".
I personally agree and every year I have changed my profile picture to that hand picture and asked my kid's school to wear blue (since they do PINK so well in OCT). I have yet to find success in that request, but I'm gonna keep on doing it until it WORKS!

What say you? Join HERE  to further the discussion: Talk it out in this group of T1 parents and advocates...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How my son's DOG warned me of my own diabetes

I had been diagnosed with hypoglycemia for just over a year now. Given my own meter, etc. and let me tell you, I GET why my son eats us out of house and home when his blood sugar is low!
(Skip this red part if you are savvy)
  • FOOD & SUGAR are the ingredients that solve low blood sugar episodes. When under 70, a diabetic (or anyone, for that matter) need a combination of sugar and then food (good protein/carb ratio) to steady out from dropping again. Sugar bombs don't solve it alone, but they help keep BS (blood sugar) up.
  • When a diabetic is HIGH (like over 150) they must take insulin to help bring them back DOWN into a safe 80/90-120/150 range. That is what an INULIN PUMP does; it gives artificial insulin hourly into the blood stream to release blood sugar, because the tiny part of the pancreas that did that naturally is out of business, no more insulin.
  • Pumps deliver insulin, and some, with another added sensor piece under the skin, can tell one's blood sugar range at any moment. (This is a CGM- Constant Glucose Monitor). These need to be calibrated by one actually pricking their finger and drawing blood. This is done with a METER, and this METER is also used frequently throughout the day for diabetics (with & without CGM's) of all types (1, 2 and hypoglycemics).
  • Exercise naturally lowers blood sugar levels.
I am an over-protective, anxiety ridden basket case over my son's blood sugar levels. I'm in recovery, but still wear the badge. One night, as I went in to check his range (as he slept), his diabetic alert dog pawed me. Flint  kept pawing me. My son was fine. 117 to be exact. I thought to humor the dog and myself by checking my own level, and I was 58. 

Over the next few weekends of taking our DAD (in training) places, he would again let me know I was low. In the car, during my son's rugby practice...and a few times I'd "sugar up" to raise it but forget to eat and he'd paw me 20min later and I'd be back down to 70.

I am used to feeling crappy and out of sorts. I have Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, migraines, and my pituitary sac is flat in my brain stem, (Empty Sella); so I see my own Endocrinologist. I have been for years now, and so these consistent alerts began alarming me.
Then I got fat. Like instant fat. 
I had been steadily gaining, but credited it to my lack of exercise, energy, and need to eat small portions constantly to help from dropping from hypoglycemia. Yet within 10 days before flying back East for a wedding, I gained 14 pounds. And trust me, I was watching it. I had a lot of old friends to see! So I figured something was up and visited my Endo upon getting back in town.

The doc found was over-producing insulin and cortisone. What did that mean, exactly? Well his first idea was it could be a tumor (since my pituitary sac is already compromised). I cleared that test, (whew) and see my OB to rule out polycystic ovarian syndrome this week. (update: CLEAR) Now it's been solved on his end that I am "insulin resistant" and in the very early stages of PRE-DIABETES.

Say WHAT?! EFF me. EFF that. EFF. I will NOT do the "fat man's" diabeetus! (I know, not so nice, but that's the point of this blog).
Me at the biggest, then after 6 weeks of eating low glycemic diet

My dad & his brother both had been diagnosed with type 2 years before my son got his Type 1. I knew of them taking pills but being able to "reverse it" via diet and exercise. My dad and uncle (former football players) both did exactly this. We bonded over A1C numbers (that's when a test tells the blood sugar average over a 3month period), and I was very happy for their continued success. They are big guys; tall, strong, broad shoulders and big hearts. I never have, nor will see, "fat" when I picture them. But I knew it for myself. Last time I was this large I had my final baby ready to deliver.

So I cut out sugar and carbs and got on a low glycemic diet. I took this VERY seriously coz I know my son's life, and it is NOT easy; counting carbs for everything, checking his BS multiple times throughout the day.... Forget diet, diabetes is a life-style. 

I learned the OVER-PRODUCTION of insulin MAKES one fat and KEEPS one FAT. So this big body I now waddle around in is making so much it'll eventually exhaust itself from over-production, not make enough, and my blood sugar will SOAR. (go high)
Right now my blood sugar and A1C are aces. Gold Stars! But my lows are from the over-production and how I'm eating. It's a vicious cycle. So I have to be smart and am grateful to at least know there is something "fixable" in my life!

I do NOT have this because I suddenly ate myself or lazied myself into it. I got this from genetics, and we caught it early enough to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Type 2 Diabetes is genetic. I have friends heavier than myself, the same age, and not struggling with this issue. My Type 1 diabetic son has heavy friends who are not Type 1 OR 2.

  • You CAUSED this.
  • You could have AVOIDED THIS
  • You need to EXERCISE
  • LOSE weight
  • This is YOUR FAULT
Who gets these stereotypes? EVERY type. 
Is it fair? 

Fair enough to tell me "watch what you eat and get off your @$$ a bit more."
NOT FAIR to tell my Type 1 diabetic son. He needs to eat well and exercise, of course. Don't we all? 
You think this possesses any CONTROL or VARIABLE over his condition? You are WRONG.

We don't do fried or fast food, and I hardly ever finish a soda. I even was Gluten Free for 2yrs to boost my immune system. I always thought I should eat as mindful as my son does. Well now it's even more than him, coz he can have carbs, he can have sugar, he can eat a cookie! I can't. 
My son takes insulin to cover what he is ingesting. He can have a burger and bun, I will go "protein style."

Does this make sense? I hope my journey has enlightened this whole prejudice and unawareness of some differences between type 1 and type 2.

I still have much more to learn, I have 3 months of metformin (Update: didn't take afterall, made me way too sick), and yet WITH dietary changes ALONE my range (should be 3-11) went from 18 (too high!) to 6! 

I will beat this and "reverse" all I can, my son cannot. 
That is the bitter difference when Type 1 people hear about Type 2 things and associations. 

What say you?

Monday, August 11, 2014

You want a DAD? 4 simple points to consider.

This is a very good question. If you don't know the answer, please consider the following:

1. Who wants this more? That's who will be handling the dog more.

Helpful Links: Your DAD is only as good as you are
 DADs 101 & TOP 5 reasons DADs turn into expensive pets

2. Have you exhausted all other options?
  • Giving your life TIME to settle into the change this disease has brought
  • Considering a CGM (Constant Glucose Monitor)
  • Talking to a counselor regarding the fears and anxiety that you may have connected to this disease.
  • Teamwork. How much a partnership do you have with your significant other? Do you have support in this decision?

Helpful Link: How diabetes and DADs connect

3. Do you already like dogs and all that goes along with them? 
  • puppy bootcamp
  • continued training (older dog)
  • the fur/hair/grooming and vet costs associated with proper maintenance
  • pet insurance
  • cleaning up after, and caring for the dogs physical needs (exercise)
  • acclimating them to current household pets
Helpful Link: DADs are dogs, too 

4. Have you "done your research?"

I've explained in detail (above link) how painstaking this advice is. What do you consider a reliable source? A stranger from social media with awesome pictures? A testimonial found on a news clip? A group of parents who have "been there done that" and seem to "know it all?" 

Please be your own best investigator and be smart about it. Do what makes sense, and be mindful that your fundraising efforts + donated money DO NOT = successful DAD. You need a contract, you need extensive discussions and references. You should not feel "owned" by any DAD organization or trainer; and you should not feel any "one way is THE way." (cult mentality is never good-lol)

6 months of research is nothing. Consider spending at least a year on this big and expensive decision. You owe the next 10yrs of this dog's life at least 1% of your time making sure you do it the best way for YOUR family!

Still on board? Great. I have been told my blog info and education made a family choose NOT to get a DAD; and for that I am happy they took the time to consider all that is means. If you are "green light" ready to go, and not sure how to get started, here is How to Get a Dog. and HOW MUCH does a DAD cost...

ps- If you care to know WTH we chose this route, please LOOK HERE
~ Blessings on your journey!