Thursday, January 26, 2012

watercolour 101

last week i mentioned that i was starting an art class.  well the first class was cancelled due to weather.

class was on this week!  i have been very excited about starting this!  i have always thought it was incredible that people were able to paint scenery, portraits, animals.  whatever.  i never, ever thought i would be able to do it. 

well last night, i surprised myself!  i actually painted!  and it is something that i am thinking about hanging on a wall! (it may be the basement wall, but a wall none the less LOL!)

the class is small.  only 4 students.  myself, my friends J and R, and one gentleman, G.   our teacher M, teaches out of her home.  she is very talented, and makes it look sooooo easy. 

we are set up in her basement.  it is a lovely area, with a fireplace, and some soft music playing in the background.  she does not rush.  she answers questions, and helps us.  R and I have never done this before.  J is on her second time around and she missed the first 4 classes in the fall.  G seems to know what he is doing.  he has brought a sketch book with him, full of pencil drawings he has done. 

M treats us all the same.  she has a slightly british accent, and her voice is very encouraging. 

first we are given a sheet of paper and asked to tape in along the lines to a heavy piece of plastic.  first we draw a line for the horizon. we then sketch very lightly, some mountains in the distance, and a few scrubby looking scribbles which apparently will become trees.  then we soak the area we are going to be painting with water.  now this is nothing like the watercolour painting i remember from my childhood. 

what happens next is incredible!  i dip my brush in some paint and spread it on the water-soaked paper.  i listen to M, as she tells us how to blend, and the when to add a little more water.  how to add colours to create texture.  how to use a crumpled up piece of kleenex to take some of the paint off and just like that a cloud appears.   with different colours and different brushes, we become artists!  imagining the way the light is shining, we create shadows, and with a fine brush there appears a tree, stark and void of leaves.

the process is amazing! 

i did 3 paintings in 3 hours.  i never could have imagined i would be able to do this. 

here are the results. 
painting #1

painting #2

painting #3

so?  what do you think?  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

i am slowly going crazy (1,2,3,4,5,6,-switch!)

crazy going slowly am i 6,5,4,3,2,1,-switch!

for many, many years, i pretty much ignored Diabetes.  by that i mean, i just didn't talk about it much.  i did not advertise my Diabetes.  i played along, by occasionally testing my BG.  i counted carbs sometimes.  i did my MDI's based solely on how i "felt" at the time and a lot of swagging.  obviously my family knew i was diabetic.  my friends knew.  some of the people i worked with knew (but probably only because of a low blood sugar episode). 

Diabetes was my private demon.

so over the course of the last year or so, i have taken ownership of my Diabets.  i test somedays up to 10x.  i now have an insulin pump.  i have become a lot more vocal about it.  and a lot more obvious.  i am not really afraid to talk about Diabetes.  to educate people when it seems necessary. 
i plainly wear my pump hanging out of my pocket.  i test in public if i need to.  i started blogging, instead of just creeping. i wear my Blue Circle lapel pin everyday!  in september i even got a tattoo telling the world i am a Type 1 Diabetic.

and yet, i really don't know any other Type 1's in "real life".   i think i have mentioned this before.  i have an estranged niece with Type 1.  i work with a lady who is coming to terms with her Type 2.  i met with a women from Medtronic when i was deciding on which pump to go with who was a Type 1.  but this isn't what i need.

i need to be able to meet people.  have a coffee (or diet pop), talk about diabetic things, face to face.
i love the DOC, don't get me wrong.  i really do.  and i think it is what's pushing me forward to being more active in the D-world.

i have thought about volunteering with my local chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Assoc.  i have thought about attending one of their Information & Support Group Sessions.  the problem with these is the time of day.  i have a list of sessions all the way up to June.  each and every one takes place at 10:00am - 11:30am.  this, unfortunately, is not a good time of day for me. 

i need to find another way to meet up with other PWD's.  i cant be the only one.  there have to be others.

my family thinks i have gone off the deep end.  they ask why i feel the need to meet others.  i try to explain it to them, but for the most part, they just don't get it.  i think, out of all of them, my daughters are more able to relate, especially my youngest.  and in all honesty, i don't really even understand this new need.  i just know it is something i need to do.

i would greatly appreciate any ideas any of you may have, on how to go about meeting others. 
should i take out an ad in the local paper?  should i put up notices in the local grocery stores?  perhaps a radio announcement? 

"Hi.  My name is Kim.  I am a Type 1 Diabetic in desperate need of meeting other PWD.  if you too are looking, call me at ***-***-****.  lets meet up for coffee"

i am slowly going crazy, 1,2,3,4,5,6, switch ~ crazy going slowly am i 6,5,4,3,2,1 switch!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheap Night

earlier today my daughter asked if would like to go to the movies with her and a friend.  i thought i might like that.
as the day wore on, i was kind of debating about going.  there were things i could be doing this evening.  things like cleaning out my hall closet (i'm afraid to open the door in case things fall on my head!).  i could clean the bathroom, or do some laundry. 

the girls are planning on seeing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

from the commercials i have seen on television, i think i will enjoy this movie.  it is the type of movie that a few girls can laugh and cry over.  men need not accompany.

after some hemming and hawing, and some badgering from the girls, i have decided to go with them. (i am sure they just asked 'cause it's too cold to walk to the theatre and they know i will drive!).

so now i have to figure out the carbs in Movie Popcorn, 'cause i can't go to the show without eating the popcorn!     


Sunday, January 22, 2012

help is always here

today, my Type 2 friend at work came over to talk to me.  she said that she went to her Dr. and had an A1c done.  the results were not great. 

i must tell you that for the last 2 years or so, i have been mentioning that she should probably test more.  she always said that she was doing fine.  she said that her Dr wasn't too concerned, and she did test occasionally.  as long as she took her Metformin she was fine, and she always took it.

so this morning, with a sheepish look on her face, she told me her A1c was 18.  her doctor has increased her Metformin from 2 pills a day to 4.  he apparently has given her 2wks to get that number down, "or else" she will be going on insulin. 

when i asked "down to what?" she said she didn't know.  she seemed bewildered by it all.  and just a little scared, if the look on her face was anything to go by.  i was a little stunned that her Dr. didn't give her a little more encouragement.  perhaps a goal number to work towards. 

i want to tell her that insulin is not so bad.  that she will feel so much better and she will feel a little more freedom.  metformin should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level of the drug in your blood.  MDI's  would give her a less structured day.  like myself, her days are never the same.  work schedules in the grocery industry vary day to day.  on insulin she would, in my opinion, be better able to "manage" her diabetes, and bring her A1c down.  i am not a doctor, nurse, or CDE but to me, this only makes sense. 

i am going to bring her one of the new meters that i have so she can keep it at work.  i am going to tell her about the DOC and invite her to come have a read.  i am sure she will find tons of information and all the support she needs here. 

it's going to be a tough road, but she can only go up (or down!) from here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the tale of the unhappy painter

yesterday's post was about the art classes i was supposed to be starting tonight.  1 really am excited to be starting this.  it is something i have thought about doing, but never really thought i would do. 

i have reached an age where i have decided that i CAN do things for me.  i have raised 3 kids.  they are fairly normal adults (hahaha!), and now i look after my 2 grandchildren during the weekdays and work most nights and weekends at the grocery store.  i still cook, and clean and shop and do the laundry for the 3 of us still living here (myself, my husband, and my youngest daughter, who's 22).  so i believe after years of looking after others, it is time i do something for myself.

i received a call this morning to advise that tonights class has been cancelled due to "inclement weather".  needless to say, i am very disappointed.  i was soooo looking forward to tonight.  i sit here looking out my dining room window.  the roads are clear of snow.  the sun is shining.  it's cold but there is no sign of a storm brewing or anything "inclement". 

i understand the teacher lives out in the country, and i get that where she lives, the weather can turn quickly bad.  but i am fairly certain that the freezing rain they were calling for has passed us by.  it was incredibly windy last night,  blowing in the lattice on my back porch.  but even the wind has calmed down.
this lattice...

used to go in here

now i have to wait until next wednesday for the artist hiding inside to make an appearance.  perhaps i'll just break out the paper and a pencil and start drawing some Charlie Brown for old-time sake.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

art 101

tomorrow i start an Art Class.  i am really excited by this.  it is a painting with watercolours class.  my good friend took this class before Christmas and really enjoyed it.  she did some really good (by my estimate!) paintings, and encouraged me to join up with her.  so tomorrow i start painting.

when i was young, i used to draw.  i would copy the cartoons in the newspaper.  when i say "copy" i mean draw freehand, not trace.  and then i would make up my own words to go with the drawing.  i could draw Charlie Brown as good as Charles Schulz!(just kidding!)

 those little "love is..." cartoons,  i would draw them and give them to my boyfriend (now husband).

but painting?  i'm not sure how this will go.  the first couple paintings are apparently trees.  just sticks.  coloured sticks.  i am a tad nervous, to say the least.  my friend keeps telling me it's fun, it's easy, i will love it.  still not sure. 

i will go to class tomorrow, and i will let you know how it goes.  maybe i'll post a pic of my first painting. 

wish me luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fish 'n Chip Fiasco

for the past couple days, just about everyone in my family has been feeling the effects of some sort of stomach bug.  nothing too serious, just well you know.  it seemed to start with my grandson.  said his tummy hurt, and his bones "feel broken" (he's 5, i'm guessing he meant they ached).  then my daughter (his mom) came down with a bug that kept her home from work and close to the bathroom for a few days.  because i look after the kidlets during the day while she and her husband work, i knew it was just a matter of time before my own house would be feeling it.  my daughter that lives at home, was next.  then my husband.  and last but not least, me.  last week i wrote about getting the flu shot.  not sure if what i had was the "real" flu, or just some weird stomach thing.  no nausea, no fever, no coughing or aching.  just, well you know.

so last night, i finally was feeling well, relatively speaking.  i was in the mood to eat for the first time in a couple days.  there is this great little Fish 'n Chip shop here that we really enjoy.  i was going to pick my daughter up from work, so decided to pick up dinner.  unless it comes from a box (yuck!), fish and chips are always a crap shoot (excuse the pun) for me.  one drawback to this wonderful dinner is that the restaurant does not have any nutritional info to hand out.  so i broke out the Calorie King book, looked up Long John Silvers, and found that 6ounces of fish and 3ounces of chips equaled 82grams of carbs.  i measured my fish and fries, checked my BG(4.5) and bolused according to Ping(7.25u).   

mmmm.  it was soooo good.  so bolus worthy!  

at a little after 8 i decided to go to the grocery store and pick up a few things.  they were calling for snow and sleet so i decided rather than go out in the morning, i would go then.  my daughter decided to come with me.  i made out a quick (short) list, and off we went.

now normally, i would check my BG's before driving, but i figured with all that yummy fish and chips in my system, i would be good to go. 

we got to the store, and i looked at my list.  bread and english muffins at the top.  to the bakery section i go.  now keep in mind that i work at this grocery store, and could probably find just about anything you ask for in my sleep.  well apparently that was not the case last night.  

i remember putting the bread in my cart.  and that's it.  next thing i remember is my legs are kind of jerking and hopping along and i "come to" in the frozen pizza section.  my daughter was going to look at nail polish and says she saw me skipping along and wondered "what the heck??"  

suddenly she is standing beside me and says "are you okay?" and i say something like " i am freaking out".  having said this i pull out my meter and right there beside the frozen pizzas i test.  2.7  WTF??  HOW.IS.THIS.POSSIBLE??  and i still have almost 2units of IOB!! she looks at me and off she goes to grab orange juice.  and yet i feel perfectly fine.  no more jerking legs, no more feeling of how did i get here.  no numb lips or anything other that a little bit warm.  and pale.  deathly pale.  

i drink the oj and wait.  test=2.9   eat some candy of some kind (says 13pcs=31gr carbs)   wait.....test again 2.7  HELLO?? are you kidding me?  eat more candy, finish oj   wait....test again 3.6  finally!! upwards!!   i decide that by the time i finish my shopping i should be up to 5 and we can head home. 

we get home and i am soooo tired.  i sit down to watch some tv and decide to test.  5.8  okay i'm good with that.  i know that it is going to continue to climb.  i have eaten enough carbs to send me through the roof.  BUT it took me 2 hours to get from 2.7 to 5.8.  and then it only took me and hour and a half to go from 5.8 to 13.6.  

this morning i am met with 17.5    i know what i should have done.  i should have set a temp basal increase and got up through the night to test.  but i was soooo tired, and frankly, i will deal with the high and carry on.  

i really enjoyed my Fish 'n chips though.  worth the glucoaster ride, but i won't be doing it again any time soon.  =)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


January 10, 2011 

Toronto General Hospital


one year ago today.  it's hard to believe that a whole year has passed.  i remember the morning vividly.  the rest is, well, blank.

i remember the room.  yellow paint.  two beds.  one close to the door, the other, the window.  the windows run along the wall covered in blue curtains.  there is a heating vent along the wall under the windows.  and chairs.  two of them, also blue. a small bedside table.  the washroom at the end of the bed. 

this whole ordeal actually started in December 2010.  i had a Dr's appt on the 15th to get some prescriptions re-filled.  after getting that out of the way, my Dr. asked if there was anything else going on.  i mentioned that i was having some heartburn and wondered if there was anything he could suggest for it as nothing i was taking seemed to be working.  he asked me to tell him about my symptoms.  as i mentioned the pain in my chest, the occasional shortness of breath, the being woken from sleep , he asked how long this had been going on.  i couldn't really remember.  my best guess was sometime around April.  he asked what i had been taking and was i doing anything in particular when i noticed these symptoms.  i told him that sometimes it happened when i walked, sometimes when i scraped my windshield.  i could be sleeping soundly and suddenly awake with pains in my chest, or simply sitting watching TV.   when i happened to mention that i would get a pain in my jaw, sort of coming from my neck the look on his face changed.

he immediately said that he thought it was something other than heartburn.  he was going to call the Cardiac Clinic and have them set up some tests.  he gave me a prescription for some heartburn medication, but he said he didn't think it was worth filling. 
later that afternoon i got a call from the Cardiac Clinic asking me to come in the next morning at 8am.  i would undergo some tests.  i would need to bring running shoes and be in comfortable clothes.  naturally i was scheduled to work an 81/2 hr day so i phoned my boss and told her i would not be in and explained the situation.  she told me to keep her posted.
long story short, after 2 days of testing (which apparently i failed), the Cardiologist was going to schedule an Angiogram for sometime after Christmas.  until then, she told my husband and myself that i was to relax, try to remain stress-free (ahahaa!!) and work was out of the question. i work in a grocery store as a cashier, and she thought that it would be too stressful during Christmas.  i guess i had a look but she gave me a note to take in to work and told me to listen to my Cardiologist!  i left knowing the hospital would call me with an appointment. 

and so for the next week, i stayed home, i shopped for Christmas, i wrapped, i baked, i cleaned.  i tried not to stress.  i tried not to think of what Dr. S had told me.  she said that what i had been feeling was Angina.  she was not sure what was going on with my heart but the tests were concerning.  the Angiogram would tell them whether my condition could be controlled with Nitro, or if perhaps Angioplasty would work.  worst case scenario would be bypass surgery, but that was WORST CASE.

Christmas came and went.  it was a sort of quiet affair.  no one really saying much about what was going to happen.  my youngest daughter came home from college.  we went to my sister's for boxing day.  my parents were there also.  it was a little more sombre than previous years.  finally the day came when the hospital called with my appt date.  Jan 6 7:30am.  was i nervous?  a little.  was i scared?  i'm not sure.  i guess i figured that whatever they found out, there was a way to fix it.  and if, in the process, i died, i would be none the wiser.  odd, i know, but it kept me sane for the moment.

so Jan 6 arrives.  we are at the hospital at 7am. my husband and i.  i fill out paperwork.  wait. wait. trying not to stare at the other people waiting.  wondering what they might be there for.  i can't help it, i'm kinda nosy like that.  finally they call my name.  i look at my husband, he squeezes my hand.  in i go.

i've had angiograms before.  twice.  but this was different.  they gave me "a little something" to help me relax.  they were talking to me while they were doing their thing.  my chest was starting to feel heavy.  i guess as the dye got closer to my heart it started to react.  finally they gave me a couple good sprays of nitro, and i started to feel better.  next thing i remember is being in recovery and seeing my husband and daughter.  the test was done.  at this point the Dr told us that basically i had 4 blockages in my heart.  the only option was bypass.  definately triple bypass but perhaps quadruple, depending on what the surgeon found once he was "in there".  i'm not sure what i was thinking at that point.  he then told us  they would be transferring me to the Cardiac wing until i was transferred to Toronto.  WHAT!!!??  i need to go home.  i have to do laundry, and pack and, and, and...OMG! THIS IS FOR REAL!  i try to tell them that i feel fine.  i haven't had those pains since i saw the cardiologist!  they say that is because of the Nitro patches. they say i am a walking heart attack waiting to happen.  they transfer me to the Cardiac wing where i stay until Jan 9th.

Jan 9th.  afternoon.  the hospital gets word from Toronto that they have a bed for me.  the transfer ambulance is arranged and i begin the wait.  my family arrives.  we visit while we wait.  finally it is time.  my oldest daughter, her husband and my 2 grandkids are not coming to Toronto.  they will stay home.  my son and his wife will also wait at home.  my husband and my youngest daughter will follow the ambulance.  it is a weird ride.  laying on a gurney all strapped in.  sort of sitting up. looking backwards out the window.  i can see things passing by.  i can see the faces of the people in the car behind us.  i try to read.  i can't seem to concentrate. i try to doze.  finally we arrive.  i am escorted by the nurse and the ambulance guys through a maze of halls and elevators.  and then i am in my room.  the one with the yellow walls.

January 10th.  i am awakened at about 4:30am.  the nurses come in to check all kinds of things.  monitors were exchanged upon my arrival.  they are checked again.  i am told i may shower.  they give me some special soap designed to kill germs on contact i'm sure!  then i may read, watch tv, go for a walk, whatever until it is time.  apparently my surgeon is usually quite prompt or even early.  my husband, son and youngest daughter arrive.  they will be staying for the day, and into the evening.  my other daughter and her husband will come up later.  we talk and go for walks, until my time arrives.  finally they say it's time.  back on the gurney and down to the pre-op area.  my family can wait with me until i go into the operating room. the surgeon comes to talk to us.  they will be doing triple bypass.  they will decide on the fourth artery only if they deem it necessary once they are in.  the nurses are prepping me.  getting BP's and such.  trying to insert IV's and my veins are not cooperating.  it is decided that they will do it in the OR.  i am given something to relax me.  i think i'm stoned.  my son is laughing and it really is pretty comical, in retrospect.  then they tell us it's time to go in.  there are hugs and kisses and I Love You's.  i am freezing, and they give me a warm blanket.  the last thing i remember is them trying to get a line in my arm.  then nothing.

i am told that the nurses in the CVICU (cardiovascular intensive care unit) woke me up later that evening.  i am told that i was awake, and conversing.  i am told that i kept falling asleep halfway through sentences.  i have no recall of any of this.  i believe all of my family were there.   i remember nothing.  my first memory is of the phone in my room ringing and a very friendly souding nurse answering it.  it is my husband.  then i remember waking up and my parents and my sister are standing there, with worried looks in their eyes.  I AM ALIVE! I MADE IT!  i want to yell, but all i can do is smile  =) 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

to flu or not to flu

this morning i was wondering how many of us out there actually get the flu shot.  at my last Dr.'s appointment (just the family Dr.), he asked me if i was interested.  he also offered me a "pneumonia shot".   now just let me say that my family Dr. is not in the least bit pushy.  nor does he do too much digging in your business.  although i do credit him with saving my life last year, by actually asking the appropriate questions, when i mentioned that i had been having severe heartburn (more on this in a few days).

so back to the shots.  i declined on both counts.  i have lived with diabetes for 37 years now.  i have had the flu shot exactly 0nce.  and perhaps it was only coincidence, but i thought for sure i was going to die. 

i did a little light reading at Health Canada, and this is their stand on who should get the flu vaccine.

I have a chronic condition. Should I get the flu shot?
Yes, if you have any of the following chronic conditions, as you are more at risk of developing complications from the seasonal flu:
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • asthma and chronic lung disease
  • liver disease
  • diabetes
  • serious obesity
  • diseases or treatments that affect the immune systems such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants
  • blood disorders
  • neurological disorders
  • medical conditions where people have difficulty swallowing or are at risk of choking
  • children’s and adolescents' medical conditions treated for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®).

If you are in contact with people with these conditions, you should also get a flu shot to help protect them.

next, i looked at Health Canada's stand on the pneumonia vaccine.  this is what they had to say:

Who should get the vaccine?
Pneumococcal vaccine should be given to anyone 65 years of age and older, as well as adults and children two years and older who have the following high-risk medical conditions :
  • chronic heart, kidney or lung disease (except asthma);
  • nephrotic syndrome;
  • cirrhosis of the liver;
  • alcoholism;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • chronic cerebrospinal fluid leak;
  • HIV infection and AIDS;
  • other diseases that suppress the immune system;
  • no spleen or a spleen that does not work properly;
  • sickle cell disease.
When should pneumococcal vaccine be given?
The best time to get the needle is as soon as you develop a high-risk medical condition or when you turn 65. Because many people who should get the pneumococcal vaccine also get the flu shot (influenza vaccine) every autumn, it would be a good idea to get them both at the same time. But remember - the pneumococcal vaccine is usually given just once in your lifetime and the influenza vaccine is given every year. Only a few people will need a second dose of the pneumococcal vaccine. Your doctor will know if you need another dose.

this past couple days,  half of my family has had some sort of "bug".  not a very pleasant one either i am told.  my middle child, and her two children, whom i look after every day, have had it.  the two little ones, seemingly only for about 24 hours.  momma, not so much.  onto day 3 with her.

my youngest daughter now seems to have the beginnings of it.  i will not gross you out with the details.  i am sure you can guess!

so my head is now wondering if perhaps i should have taken the good Doctor up on his suggestions.  i seem to be immune to these sorts of "bugs".

but after the year i have had, health-wise, i am now asking myself if maybe i should have gotten both vaccines after all?

what do you think?  do you get the flu shot each year?