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23/11/2015 18:27

Lessons From the Dia-Hill

Some people living with diabetes vividly remember his or her diagnosis anniversary aka the “diaversary.”  Maybe we remember by choice or perhaps we forget by choice.  How about you?  I find that my diaversary date of November 29th seems to stay with me.  What do I do with this I ask myself each year.

This Sunday is my 8 year diaversary.  Some years I have found myself feeling more nonchalant than others when my diaversary date approaches.  This year I admit that I just plain feel beaten up.  That is the feeling of being beaten up but never beaten down.  Thank goodness for that mindset.  Although I feel beaten up I continue to cling to a steadfast hope.  It is not a hope for a cure for type 1 diabetes (that I was assured would be within 5 years).  It is one thing to hope for a cure yet quite another to expect one within my lifetime.  I decided a few years ago to not count on a cure anytime soon but rather to make the most of my life in the moment versus waiting to continue fully with life or putting a portion of my life on hold while waiting for a cure.  Each one of us is a beautiful original so our coping strategies will vary & that’s understandable.

Even the most enthusiastic people with exceptional positive attitudes can feel beaten up at times.  This is where I find myself even though I have been trying to climb out of a feeling of sadness currently.  Then I realize that it all actually makes sense.  Since last November 29th, I have lost 5 loved ones including one of my very best friends.  I kind of get a sinking feeling when the phone rings as a result.  It has been a year of struggle health wise too yet there has been less time than ever to deal with the 4 autoimmune illnesses that I live with 24-7.  A few dear ones continue to need additional support from me due to struggles they too deal with.  I feel such compassion for each one of them.  I get how they feel.  I remain strong yet silently exhausted.  So many times I have tried to block off time to recharge however it is rare to not have something happen to this time.  Over & over again I hear from one medical professional after the other that it is important to reduce stress.  They each treat one fraction of me & my health.  I tend to not disclose just how heavy the load is.  What is the point is where I am at right now.  It changes nothing so I continue to hang on at times by my fingernails each day.  For sure I will get my strength rebuilt.  This is no pity party for one & I am not a victim now or ever.  At the same time though I am 3 dimensional so I live in valleys and mountains just like everyone else.  What I refuse to do is to pretend that everything is perfect.  Type 1 diabetes taught me a long time ago that you can do everything perfectly & still not have success with management on any given day.  I live with my flaws & am okay with it all.  I am okay with admitting to feeling beaten up & knowing that this will not last forever either. 

Being an advocate has played a very important role in my life since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  As I have shared before my role as an advocate began with advocating for type 1 diabetes however this naturally lead to advocation for antibullying, suicide awareness, special needs children and more.  Perhaps the place of cross section for many if not all of the advocation is that feeling that we each feel so often as outliers, outsiders, different or at times not accepted.  I will not take a break ever from advocating.  It has become part of who I am.  There are times where advocating itself puts us on the outside of popularity to say the least.  Telling the truth even when our voices shake is not always the easiest thing to do.  We will not always be the life of the party so to speak.  And stones (metaphorically) will be thrown at shiny things.  In other words we will be challenged big time for various reasons.  Long ago I learned the lesson that I am powerless over what others choose to say or do.  It is my job to take charge over how I react to what others say or do instead.  For instance since I am a hugely sensitive person I have a difficult time letting go of things that bother me.  That is a work in progress.

We all struggle & have those extra demanding days every once in a while.  During the last week of October I had one of those kind of days where you just don’t get a break even though you are trying with all your might to turn it all around.  It began with a preventable injury that our youngest son sustained at school that he now has a permanent physical reminder of.  The day had started out like any other & I was not contacted by this school (this has happened repeatedly during times that our sons have sustained preventable injuries at this school) & upon arriving to pick up our youngest son he was inconsolable due to the pain from the injury even though he is our stoic son.   It always boggles my mind that a parent would not be contacted immediately & also that everyone around a crying, distressed child can be so oblivious to this.  Not one person bothered to try to comfort my crying son.  What a world we live in sometimes!   To make a long story shorter the frustration continues with this particular school even though years & years of advocating have been invested.  Our son lost a couple of days off from school including the next day whereby I had to take another one of our sons to a specialist appointment downtown Toronto.  That trip back & forth to Toronto was brutally frustrating.  It was teaming rain so it took 3 hours each way to drive there.  Unfortunately to top it all off, sometime on the way to the appointment my infusion set got ripped out & I did not have a spare set with me (although I usually do).  That meant that my blood sugars kept rising & rising.  By the time I got home my blood sugars were in the 20’s so I tested for ketones, corrected, drank what felt like buckets of water, felt like something the cat dragged in & it took about 8 additional hours to see my glucose readings anywhere near in range.  A few days later when I changed my infusion I hit a blood vessel & had to change out the infusion a few hours later & again go into sick day management mode.  Life however as you know continues at the speed of light so just because we feel like we have been through the ringer so often we have to keep going & going.  My calendar is literally covered in medical appointments that I am responsible for whether they are mine or my family members’.  Honestly, I would love to take a big break from all of that.  I am sure you know exactly what I mean.

My diaversary for some reason tends to remind me that when I don’t feel like doing something good for me that I need to do it anyway.  This year I reminded myself that this has been too heavy of a year & I have to schedule in some fun even though I am not feeling like this at all.  Elbows up, a break in the form of fun has been scheduled in short term & long term.  It has been complicated organizing fun for our family since there is so much going on health wise for several of us.  I hope that it all works out.  We have to try.  I do feel hopeful.  Maybe the scheduled fun will prove to be a shift.  I will never stop trying to lighten things up.  As always I am not going to celebrate my diaversary itself however I do choose to be thankful to be here with my family to live a messy, beautiful life.

My heart’s hope for you is that you have at least one person to lean on when life’s struggles become too heavy for one person to hold.



On a lighter note our 3 sons just completed their letters to Santa & our 2 younger sons brought back a humourous memory from a Christmas Eve a few years ago.  I had forgotten to leave carrots out for the reindeer so the reindeer apparently got into the refrigerator & left half eaten carrots on a couple of shelves & also hoof prints.  The boys included a stern warning to the reindeer about ever doing that again.  It really is about the wee moments.  This is one of many.  May your week ahead include many memories that bring a smile to your face.  And may we all live presently in each & every moment.  Next Monday’s story is “The Light or the Reflection.” xo


09/11/2015 11:59

Chas' Chips

If you could step outside & place something to sit upon in the carpet of Fall leaves what would that seat be & more importantly who would be sitting right beside you?  My seat of choice would be an old fashioned apple box & the person next to me would be my Grandpa Brown.  What a paradox of emotions it can be to miss someone yet never lose that profound & unmistakable feeling that they have never really left.  My Grandpa left us far too soon & I was just 13 years old however we packed a lifetime of love & laughter into those 13 years.  The most precious champions that are big time heroes to me are every day heroes…many of which are in my very own family.  My Grandpa remains in my heart a gentle giant of a hero.  Although Remembrance day is in 2 days I honour & remember Grandpa every single day & most especially when I find something to laugh about.  I search out things to laugh about daily.  Some days there would not otherwise be something natural to laugh about however I have learned to seek out humour on those tough days because those are the days that laughter is even more medicinal.  I like to believe that I honour my Grandpa throughout the whole year however it is a more private, introspective form of honour.  Today, I share my Gentle Giant with you with love stirred in.

Time shared together is precious don’t you think?  The outside world will tell us that we don’t have the time to share time with dear ones.  We rob ourselves when we buy into that belief.  I believe that we cannot likely do everything that we would like to do however that is where triaging our days comes in.  Sometimes the prepared “to do” list has to be thrown out in favour of what matters most.  When we are truly present with one another, being part of one another’s love stories we can pack in a lot of lifetime love even if we only have a short time together with one another. 

Are you a laid back person or more intense?  Popular psychology refers to this as type A & Type B personality style.  You will know which one you fall within.  I fall into the first born type A style by nature however by self nurture & redirection I have chosen to reside as much as possible in the more pleasant type B world.  That world does my health many benefits.  Stress management is one of the largest benefits that have resulted from switching my thinking to a more laid back tendency.  Left to my own devices I would remain overly intense, stressed to the max & self critical.  Instead I decided many years ago to go out of my way to take myself & situations a lot more lightly.  That is a constant work in progress.  The most precious example of a person who was proficient at being laid back was my dear Grandpa.  He provided a lasting example of what a beautiful life looked like.  He also taught me the appreciation for the simple things in life & that has sticking power because I find myself grateful for someone or something with no effort at all every single day.  Without gratitude & the power of simplification I know I would find myself on the the hamster wheel of life of dissatisfaction.  That would be a life lived tragically I believe because there is enormous beauty within each & every day & most profoundly vivid within nature.

Long before I was born my Grandpa served our country in World War II.  The most exposure to that time in his life that I have consists only in the photographs I cherish of our Gentle Giant in his Canadian Army uniform.  Grandpa had an infectious laugh that caused everyone around him to instantly laugh along with him.  He loved a good joke & he always had one for everyone he came across.  There is something dear about East Coasters & Grandpa was one of the finest example of Eastern friendliness, hard work, generosity, care & humour.  Most naturally, Grandpa moved to Ontario following his time with the Canadian army with his love of fishing & camping & a dream made reality through his & Grandma’s hard work of becoming apple farmers.  Grandma & Grandpa bought many apple orchards & they worked indescribably hard.  Grandpa was most content in the outdoors & there was never any doubt that he poured love & hard work into his many apple orchards.  When I was about 8 or 9 years old I got the opportunity to have a small job of picking up “grounders” &  my Grandpa made sure that I felt like I was one of the crew complete with my very first cup of coffee poured from his very own thermos.  It was mostly milk but boy did I feel like I was being treated like a grown up & not a little kid.  I will never forget the smell & taste of that first cup of “coffee” & how it warmed my hands & tummy on a cold Fall day.  My Grandpa lived his life from start to finish never leaving a man (or gal) behind & that made him one of the finest soldiers & human beings. 

Grandpa had a passion for camping & fishing & had a natural flare for life outdoors.  In a treasure box contained in a special place in my heart I will forever keep the memories of times shared with Grandpa on camping trips.  He had a silver wee camper & every so often I spot one somewhere & smile every time.  Grandpa was a morning person & on camping trips he could hardly contain himself as he awaited the first light to each morning sky.  When dawn arrived he was always down at the Lake “scaring up some breakfast.”  There are 2 people that I know that seem to have fish almost jump into their fishing nets:  my Grandpa Brown & my Dear Heart Dad.  Their rate of success for catching fish is staggeringly high…well into the high 90% & that is no tall fishing tale.  Countless times I was awakened to the smell of fresh fish cooking over the campfire & coffee & fried potatoes & the look of Grandpa grinning ear to ear to share the breakfast that he had all ready for all of us at the camp.  A favourite camping trip was one shared with Grandma, Grandpa, my well preserved Uncle (ha ha…he is only 3 years older than me) & my Mom, Dad & my dear friend “Bones” to the East Coast.  Grandpa’s smile was the largest I had ever seen & that is saying something on that trip.  He was in his element introducing all of us to his home town.  Grandpa remains an East Coast gem.  To this day the combination of fresh fish & fried potatoes & coffee is a huge treat. 

Family dinners at Grandma & Grandpa’s place were a hoot.  At least a dozen family members gathered around their kitchen table squished in like sardines (in a good kind of way) at exactly 5pm.  Since I was the youngest at the time, I always got to sit on the tall kitchen stool & that meant I sat higher that everyone else which gave me a bit of a diva status in my own imagination versus feeling like a little kid.  Somehow I always got seated next to my well preserved uncle (ha ha) who is a leftie.  To this day whenever there is a family dinner I still somehow end up next to the same “leftie” & when possible that guy somehow mysteriously ends up with a plastic fly in his beverage.  I know the Gentle Giant loves that too.  Every family meal at Grandma & Grandpa’s place was filled with almost everyone talking at once, the smell of Grandpa’s homemade tea biscuits, a delicious homemade feast made by Grandma & Grandpa’s ongoing challenge to me to try to eat my dinner without bending my elbows. 

Isn’t it funny just how much we each remember with a smile from our childhoods?  One especially dear memory to me of a moment in time of lifelong love & perspective was a wee, big one.  When I was about 9 years old my Mom & Dad bought me an autograph book that I had my eye on.  You might think that I wanted it for a signature of someone famous.  There are no famous people signatures in that autograph book however there is one of the greatest everyday hero’s signatures in it.  I asked my grandpa to write on the first page of that autograph book.  He wrote, “in your wood box of memories, consider me a chip.”  At the time I did not get what that meant.  In time I have smiled though & nodded my head towards heaven & said right out loud, “I finally get it Grandpa.”  It turns out that the wood box has come to symbolize the big little moments that I hold especially close to my heart.  The wood box that I would love to be able to sit on outside surrounded by the smell of fresh picked apples would be an apple box that has spray painted on it is “Great Lakes Orchards, Chas Brown.”  There would be 2 of those apple boxes pulled up right beside one another & my Grandpa would be there beside me & I would simply say thank you to our family’s Gentle Giant.  Throughout the year though I do still say thank you with a smile to my grandpa for his legacy of love, humour, gratitude for the outdoors & his special way of making sure that whether you were a soldier fighting beside him, a family member, a community member or a stranger you did not get left behind.  And Grandpa you are so much more than a chip in my wood box of life.  Your love & your encouragement to take myself lightly & to just plain laugh more remain bigger & brighter than ever…you are the whole wood box.

In honour & love of a soldier, a Gentle Giant, a hero on Remembrance Day & everyday.


Saundie xo

Lest we forget November 11th & everyday.  My heart's hope for you  is that you take time to remember the precious every day heroes in your family that made the sacrifice to serve your country as soldiers.  There are no words huge enough to say thank-you.  The next story sharing will be in 2 weeks on Monday November 23rd.  Be gentle with yourself.


26/10/2015 12:39

The Cool/Hot & Not

Strangely there are collisions in life that are anomalies.  In everyday life we may not think about it that way.  We may not consider many things when we are living in the noise of life.  During the quiet, reflective moments various thoughts cross our minds & maybe we temporarily become our own version of a philosopher.   Over time I have learned how to take myself very lightly & that frankly is extremely helpful.  I use to find it emotionally exhausting to remain in the land of the super intensely serious mode for long.  Humour is a gift that I give to myself daily & at the top of the list is laughing at myself as often as possible.  For sure countless wonders touch my heart deeply & I feel everything at a level of intensity set to maximum however I also laugh like a mad woman from my toes to the top of my head.  Up until about 15 or so years ago I did not embrace humour as a daily necessity.  I cried too much for too long over things that would have been better laughed off many times.  A turning point for the choice to laugh more off came ironically while I was at one of the scariest times I have experienced.  Normally my go to reaction would have been fear & tears at that time however grace entered my life to stay almost 16 years ago in the form of a peaceful feeling & a tap on the shoulder to take myself lighter.  It was when my husband & I were expecting our first son as I have shared with you before.  We were told over & over again that we were going to lose our precious son.  I have never felt more fearless though as I did during that otherwise what would have been terrifying time.  And as you know our son beat the odds & now stands over a foot taller than me.  I like to tell everyone that he gets his height from me & then wait for their reaction.  Yes, I learned to welcome & embrace my inner rascal many years ago.  The rascal in me is even taller than our 6 foot 5 inch oldest son.

Have you noticed that we each have our very own way of communication?  It is a style that is part of who we are or have become or are growing into.  One of my traits is that I have kind of a sidebar form of communication.  That just means that I have a tendency to begin several different conversations within a chat with another person with many seeming to be disconnected.  Then I circle back around sometimes an hour later & finish up all the different conversations.  Often I will poke humour at myself at doing this by telling my husband when I am about to have a sidebar conversation within a conversation that I don’t want him to get whiplash so the next topic has nothing to do with the last.  Perhaps finding myself with a shorter memory these days could provide a tidy excuse for this communication style however honestly I have had this communication style my entire life.  I am a messy, flawed human being & there is nothing wrong with that because we do after all live in a messy, flawed world.  Yes, I do like my tall inner rascal big time.  This sidebar is brought to you by my way of circling back around to the original point of this story of asking you whether you found yourself philosophizing over certain oddities during the quiet moments.  Recently an oddity that came to my brain is that the words “cool” & “hot” have come to mean the same thing slang wise.  During your growing up years did you use the words “that’s very cool” or “that’s hot” to describe something that you thought was the bee’s knees?  Maybe you have used both of these descriptors.  I grew up with the “that’s cool” & landed on that permanently.  Either way, there are bound to be some things in our lives that we each find “cool” and other things that we find irritating, annoying or cumbersome or just plain not “cool.”

Let’s build a sandwich together.  The outside will be positive reflections, the inside will be pet peeves and the other outside piece will be perspective.  The positive sharings may seem a wee bit random but I think that is just fine.  You can think about some of your random “cool” things in your life too okay for fun.  My list of cool musings is just the tip of the iceberg of the things that I consider “cool” these days & yours likely will be too.  It seems as though my generation is the first one to have a cool collision of musical commonalities with our own children of today.  My husband for instance is obsessed with the band “Rush.”  I have come to learn a great deal of trivia about “Rush” from my Dear Heart & also from our 2 younger sons.  Our middle son asked my husband to hand him down one of his “Rush” tee shirts even though it is a couple sizes too big for our son, Brian.  Brian usually pulls this shirt on over top of his school uniform at the end of the school day until I seek out the shirt to wash before it grows legs & walks away on its own.  This past week I was in a “Smashing Pumpkins” kind of mood so while preparing dinner this was the music that was on.  Our oldest son, Matt came into the kitchen & told me how much he loves that band.  He & I share an enjoyment of many bands including:  Collective Soul, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots and many more.  In past generations the norm would be for the parents of teenagers or kids to complain about the music that the kids were listening to & to turn the music down or off.  In our family our sons often ask my husband to turn his music down.  They add that they like the music however it is too loud.  It is a funny role reversal.  The next random cool thing that I like is spell check.  Growing up in the 1900’s (ha! ha!) meant that I went all the way through school without computers.  We had typewriters but you had to know how to spell or find the word you needed in the huge original desk top dictionary.  To this day the dictionary causes me to roll my eyes.  Spelling was not a huge struggle for me however it is super convenient to enjoy spell check all the same.  Spell check is a God send for my mathlete husband who still struggles with spelling.  Now I could use math check on a lighter note.  A couple of diabetes related cool developments in conjunction with the blood lab have come about recently.  One is that we can make appointments at the lab & then show up at that time & not have to wait behind a couple dozen starving marvins who are fasting for their blood work too.  There use to be a lot of “lab rage” that I witnessed before we could make these appointments because hungry people having to wait could get somewhat ugly at times.  Last week when I went to the lab to have 2 different sets of blood work done the tech told me that patients could now have the opportunity to view the lab results within a couple of days versus waiting until we see our doctors.  The results for the most part are like Greek to me however the result that I was most fixated on was my A1C.  I have battled the beast of diabetes control over the past 4 months big time.  Blood sugars have been all over the map & I am now doing 12-15 glucose tests a day for my own safety since I don’t know when out of no where my blood sugar will skyrocket or plunge since I am having ridiculous hormone battles.  I was convinced that I was going to get something like an A1C of 7.5% however I went online & was thrilled to see a 6.9%!  Thank you magical blood sugar fairies.  The A1C is up from last visit however given the huge battle over blood sugars I am ecstatic with this result.  Sometimes my husband & I will joke when we get a better result in some area of life then we realistically expected & we will say “it doesn’t suck so bad.”  Diabetes does suck so bad however my working my guts out was not met with an A1C slap in the face…the A1C does not suck so bad. 

Last Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday & the first half of Wednesday were the sandwich filling days or the not cool random things that agitated me. Out of nowhere I got hit with sciatica, a flare up of carpal tunnel, blood sugar boomerangs and life poking at me non health wise as well.    As a strange aside about 90% of the time while I am grocery shopping I experience low blood sugar.  This happened last week while I was in the line up waiting to pay for the groceries.  I inhaled my fast acting sugars like what must have looked like a crazed maniac & then had to wait 45 minutes after getting my blood sugars stabilized to drive back home.  That drives me up the wall. You will know exactly what I mean if you have type 1 diabetes too.  Those rotten low blood sugars are extra brutal when they happen in public I think.  Three days a week for the next 3 months I have a treatment program for one of my other 365’s at our local hospital.  Being truly Scottish means that paying $16.00 each time for parking is not going to happen.  Within walking distance to the hospital there are 12 complimentary parking spots that if you are an early bird you will be able to park in.  Usually it is a seamless trip to the hospital when I attend my treatments.  Last Tuesday morning however I ran into a shoe horn situation.  I was parked in the second parking spot of the 12 spots.  The spot in front of me is for smaller cars so I did not park there & it was empty when I began my walk over to my appointment.  Unfortunately when I returned a person in a luxury vehicle had parked in front of me & not bothered pulling forward properly into the front of the parking space.  Instead they parked literally 2 inches from my front bumper.  The person parked behind me was parked tightly in on my back bumper.  There was no room to get out of the parking space so I had to remain in my vehicle until either one of the people came out to leave.  I had hoped it would be the person in the front parking space as they were the root cause of the trouble but instead an hour later the person parked behind me mercifully left so I could then leave too.  It was a feisty drive home after that with contributions to our swear jar.  The sciatica pain for sure did not add to my patience for that situation.  Tuesday continued to be a challenging day with difficulties arising for one of our sons & 9 phone calls to me from him from school that day.  On Wednesday I woke up with the thought of the day turning around.  I went into work mode trying to catch up on the things I had to delay for many days.  Then I experienced the laws of flexibility.  Sometimes you have to drop everything & work on an unseen priority.  This priority presented itself in the form of our goldie coming to the back door covered in goose pooh.  The priority became a bath for one smelly dog.  Life goes on though & I sought out things to laugh at through these various moments of irritation.  Some days are smoother than others for each one of us.  I am reminded to keep being profoundly grateful for the smooth days.  The other outside slice or perspective through the things that are cool and things that are not contains the magic of gratitude.  I am big time grateful for humour in any form.  There is no word of thanks big enough for how fortunate of a rascal I know that I am to be a part of a nuclear & extended family of caring, loving Dear Hearts & a circle of encouraging, kind & dear friends.  What a feeling of gratitude I have as well for the comforts of home which in this moment are extra special as they contain such an ambiance of current peace.  I have created a zen backdrop in our family room right now of having our fireplace on, beeswax candles lit on the mantle, a gorgeous pot of lemon meringue tea and gentle, classical music and a celebratory cupcake.  This is the quiet, alone time that I have carved out even though there is a “to do” list waiting.  In a short time the noise of life will enter back in but in this moment it is gentle time that I am soaking in & being thankful for.  Tomorrow’s day of anticipated rain brings the opportunity to make many more fresh apple pies made from apples that my mom & dad recently picked from my Grandma’s apple trees.  Making these pies this year is a cherished gift.  Soon my kitchen will be covered in flour again & for sure my music will be blasting although never at the decimal level of my husband’s.

My heart’s hope for you is that the outside pieces of your life’s sandwich are many times larger than the filling.  May you too carry with you chosen treasures of the people & things that ground you…the people & things that you most appreciate.  And let’s all say thank you out loud for these treasured people & things every single day.

Smiles, Saundie :)

May the next couple of weeks contain all outer parts of this type of sandwich.  Be gentle with yourself.  Have a belly laugh every day.  As always I am cheering for you.  The next story will be in 2 weeks on Monday November 9th & it will be in honour of Remembrance Day which is November 11th.  In the meantime remember to pack humour & gratitude for the journey every single day :)


19/10/2015 13:05

Ostrich Free Zone

Are you familiar with the commercial on tv currently that asks whether any hotels in the area allow you to bring your pet ostrich?  There are some cute marketing campaigns courtesy of that particular business I think.  We may either think ostriches are kind of cute too or not quite or we may not ironically think about them at all.  Why ironic?  While I am by nature an enthusiastic & optimistic person with a great attitude by choice, I am no ostrich.  What does this mean when it comes to type 1 diabetes specifically?  Can any of us afford to be ostriches?

Although it is beyond unhelpful or polite (in my opinion) to have a third cousin five times removed or someone else who is not an expert in diabetes spout off the doom & gloom of what can happen complication wise being an ostrich is not a great option either.  Honestly, I have had my fill of hearing the usual list of nonsense from people who kind of think they know more than they actually do about diabetes.  “The Peanut Gallery” can be infuriating especially when “information” is given to us without us soliciting it.  The information usually includes dramatic & horrible complications that the peanut gallery for some reason thinks we may want to hear.  Do I want to hear that complications could include:  blindness, amputation, heart attack, stroke, coma, etc?  I doubt there is a person out there that wants to hear any of that.  It is scary beyond words.  I don’t choose to live my life in fear of the very worst things happening in terms of my health or anything else.  That is saying something too because by nature I am a worrier.  That is a work in progress letting some of that unproductive worry go.  That’s a great thing too because for all 4 of the chronic illnesses that I live with day in & day out the thing that they all have in common is that stress flares them all.  Since none of us to my knowledge live in a bubble, stress in some measure seeps automatically into our days & lives.  The key that I am looking to use is the one that locks out the heaping stress on top of stress.  It can be a complicated world & I find myself trying to simplify life constantly.  Not everyone is going to be on that simplifying bandwagon though so it can be a work in progress.  Undue drama I find pretty pointless for example.  Drama for the sake of drama (or likely more accurate for the sake of getting attention) drives me up the wall.  When I find myself around that kind of behaviour I do one of a few things:  call the person out, or make a joke about it or make a speedy getaway. 

We each experience struggle.  There are times in our lives where we did not invite a stressor in but it happened all the same.  Life is filled with mountains & valleys.  It can be difficult to remain zen if something or many somethings hit us out of left field.  How about health?  When something happens to compromise our health or becomes a health emergency for someone we love we are likely to be in the centre of a stress ball.  The best I can do in those types of situations is to keep what is important in full focus.  Also, taking the best possible care of the health of loved ones & our own health at the same time is a focus.  Type 1 diabetes is already a pain in the butt to look after & I know that I am always going to do everything within my power to minimize complications from this beast.  Taking care of my eye health is a priority.  Every year I go to the optometrist & touch wood so far so great…no eye complications thank goodness.  And no pun…I also keep an eye on my feet to make sure that they stay healthy.  Each one of us have our ongoing diabetes related appointments like blood labs to have A1C, cholesterol, kidney function, and more checked, as well as either endo visits or doctor visits to find out the results, have heart rate & blood pressure taken and more.  It can be an inconvenience to have to go to many medical appointments however it is so worth it.  If something is becoming compromised I sure want to know about it as soon as possible so that I can do everything that I can to mitigate these health issues.  Even with all these diabetes care related appointments the aspects that I truthfully gave little thought to were risk of heart & stroke attacks.  Even with 4 chronic illnesses I still view myself as a remarkably healthy person.  A good part of me does not see any point in fixating on the hand I was dealt health wise but rather all the things I can still enjoy & do enjoy instead with the health that I  do have.  You will not see me get to a point in life of becoming a victim…not health wise or in any area of life.  I am a bit of a feisty rascal that way & it works for me.

For sure I see myself as the quarterback within my ever growing medical team.  When it comes to type 1 diabetes my risk tolerance for potential complications is naturally pretty low so I work my guts out at diabetes management.  I have been fortunate enough to find & build a team of trusted medical professionals not just for diabetes care but also for the other 365’s that I live with as well.  Not every initial team member has been a “love match” so to speak.  The team I have now though I trust & that is a great thing because it is my health that I am entrusting them with.  While I don’t want to hear from the peanut gallery I do ask my medical team about risk factors & the best ways to combat them to try to avoid complications from the beast of type 1 diabetes.  Recently I found myself learning more about heart health & stroke prevention not from my own doctors but from one of my best friend’s team of doctors.  Then I was reminded that diabetes more than doubles the risk for heart attack & stroke.  I paid attention for my friend’s sake & also as a “student” living with type 1 diabetes. 

Heart attack & stroke signs can be missed if we don’t know what to look for.  I was told that heart attacks for example present differently in men & women.  It turned out that the things that I had learned about stroke symptoms were not specific enough either.  I remember being taught at first aid courses to look for signs of stroke of:  slurred speech, confusion, numbness and vision problems.  Little did I know that there are additional & specific symptoms for mini strokes.  What I do have going for me though is a strong gut feeling when something isn’t right.  When my friend was experiencing what turned out to be a mini stroke I got them to the hospital right away.  What I learned though is that the best thing to do is not drive the person to the nearest hospital but rather to call 911 & that then the person would be transported to the hospital specializing in stroke care.  My friend did not have slurred speech or a crooked tongue, or any trouble speaking at all & they had the wherewithal to test themself by doing complex math correctly.  They did have a brutal headache, a brief almost falling asleep foot, some dizziness although not affecting balance and a change in vision.  The hospital that they were admitted to really thought that since the signs were not standard stroke symptoms that it was more likely vertigo & they released my Dear Heart after 8 hours in emergency.  They did though as a precaution refer my Dear Heart friend to a stroke clinic the next city over just in case.  It turned out that it was indeed a stroke.  My Dear Heart told me they knew it was a stroke all along…also a gut feeling.  Things don’t always present all neat & tidy so go with your gut if you are at all in doubt.  My Dear Heart is fortunate because prognosis within the next 6 or so months is encouraging for a full recovery.  The stroke clinic gave me a card to keep with very specific stroke warning signs which include:

Weakness:  Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm, leg, even if temporary

Trouble Speaking:  Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary

Vision Problems:  Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary              

Headache:  Sudden severe and unusual headache

Dizziness:  Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs


My heart’s hope for you is that we can all live our lives with the best possible health & complication free.  May we not get stuck listening to peanut gallery style dramatics but rather be ostrich free as well with information about our health from trusted medical professionals.  May we pass on trusted information with the sole intention of helping to save another person’s life…someone that we may never even meet.  Let’s walk around without our heads in the sand however continuing to live with enthusiasm & passion focusing on what truly matters to us.

Smiles, Saundie :)

Wishing you a gentle week.  Next Monday’s story is pretty much in the creative ether although an idea is percolating.  Blessings for an ostrich free, peanut gallery free week ahead.  And “Go Jays Go!”  ;)



12/10/2015 16:16

Surfing the Mammoth Wave

Doesn’t it seem like there is a national day of just about something or other every day?  Some of them we ignore, others we may roll our eyes over & then there are the ones that we celebrate.  Today is National Kick Autoimmune Disease’s butt day.  Yes, I am definitely celebrating this!  How about you?  Maybe just maybe you & I do our best to kick autoimmune 365’s every day anyhow.  I am pretty excited to have a national kick butt day for this all the same because I know that today we are all kicking butt big time together.  Keep going.

Have you ever felt like you were or are the holder of a profoundly huge magnifying glass?  For sure if we live with type 1 diabetes we have likely at some point felt like we were under a magnifying glass at times.  Those are the instances where it is A1C time.  What would the story tell this time?  In just under 3 weeks I am due to learn the results of my A1C again (for the 18th time) & as usual I am not much looking forward to that.  It will be a shocker if my A1C starts with anything under 7% & that really ticks me off because I have been working my butt off trying to manage the beast of type 1 diabetes.  It has been much like a boxing match where I keep getting knocked down but keep getting up again.  What is the choice?  Just like the surf, diabetes has this way of allowing the tides to come in & out.  In other words there are times when for the most part my blood sugars are tamed & I can walk along the metaphorical shorelines doing the same things expecting the same in range blood sugars.  Then wham, in comes the tide with dramatics to spare out of nowhere & I am left riding the waves of high & low sugars.  I don’t need to tell you that if you live with type 1 too that it is beyond frustrating, exhausting & the struggle is real.  If we are living with an otherwise invisible 365 like type 1 diabetes are the huge waves invisible too?  Can others tell that we are being picked up by the undertow of wacky blood sugars?  My personal answer is “it depends.”  There are a few people who get it & then so many that just plain don’t get it at all.  Thank goodness for the ones who understand because there are days that I find that I need to be able to describe some of those knock down days with diabetes & have others get it.  It makes a huge difference.  I will add that my heart hurts as I will forever miss a Battle Buddy that  shared the ups and downs of diabetes together in person since she left us too soon last Spring.  There were no subjects that were off limits & that was a gift that I will forever cherish.  I know she is still cheering me on from heaven but I miss her so much.  Love absolutely lasts forever though so the love remains & I get to carry this with me.  Maybe one day I will be like a big sister to another gal living with type one.  That would be one way to pass on the love that my diabetes big sister gave to me. 

You never know what a year is going to hold & 2015 is no different that way.  I have at times felt wiped out emotionally this year & there are still 3 months to go.  Admittedly, I am quite a sensitive person.  As I have shared before diabetes & other 365’s magnifies this within me.  For sure my heart is worn on my sleeve.  That’s ok…it’s a fashion statement because it goes well with the “pancreas” that I wear on my hip.  The surf has come in big time on emotional me.  Finally I realize that this is the way God made me so I am ok with just being sentimental me.  And I am ok with cracking silly jokes & being an outlier in more situations than I can keep track of.  When I learned recently that I have burned out my adrenals it came as no surprise because 2015 has been heavy duty.  The thing is that everyone out there has struggles so this is not a woe is me story.  It is however a time to take back some health or rebuild the parts that I can.  Ironically amongst the ridiculous number of medical appointments for myself & one of my best friends past, present & well into the foreseeable future it is at times difficult to rebuild some of my health.  I decided that I would therefore schedule in things I need to do as if they too are appointments because I don’t want to feel like I am 90 years old.  As I await results from bunches of medical tests yet again & diagnosis there is lots that I can do.  For sure getting on top of the wave & surfing it versus getting thrown around the rocks is a starter.  There is so much gratitude inside me that I live in a small corner of the world that offers so much specialized care. Last week I took one of my best friends to the stroke clinic for a follow up due to the stroke they suffered a month ago.   The clinic is only a short half hours drive from home.  The specialist & nurse & front desk there provided a very human experience.  My friend had a wee joke with a number of them there & I could tell that the staff genuinely cared.  It is the easiest thing in the world to be cranky, cantankerous & a complainer especially when dealing with stressful medical illnesses but that I believe does no one any good.  My friend & I make sure that for all appointments we try on our end to make it a human experience for the people working at the medical facilities.  These are not 2 dimensional people in uniforms but rather people…sons & daughters, moms & dads just like all of us.  My friend & I know we are fortunate to live within an hour of so much specialized care.  We are not however looking to bank up reward miles in visiting too many of them on a lighter note.  I choose to ride the wave of appreciation.  Well isn’t that timely since today is Canadian Thanksgiving.

In waking up today I am thankful for:  the boy that I fell in love with when I was just 16 years old & am blessed & smart enough to have married, 3 treasured sons, a home, a lovely meal to celebrate, extended family that mean the world to me, friendship near & far, our goldie and of course the gift of waking up to be here to be grateful & to live & make more magnified memories today.  It is gut wrenching losing a loved one but I know without a doubt that I carry every single one of these Dear Hearts who left us far too soon in the love that I carry & share.  I am one grateful rascal. 

Not only am I one very thankful rascal but beyond that I am one profoundly fortunate rascal as well.  Last week I was feeling a little bit down although never out.  Half way through the week things just turned the bend.  Dear ones that I had not shared time with for a while got in touch with me as if I had sent out the support Bat signal or something.  As the week went along I found myself sharing precious time with these Dear Hearts in my sunlit kitchen & feeling exactly like enthusiastic me again.  Surprises came in the form of yummy surprises as well last week along with the special time.  Cupcakes, apples, Georgian Bay honey, apples from my Grandma’s orchards, my Mom’s amazing homemade chili sauce along with the hugs & laughs entered my home & heart.  How could you not feel cared about?  I did & I do.  Maybe we each just need to be reminded in some way that others do care.  It makes a huge difference.  It can be as simple as an email, a phone call, a smile, tea together or so many other small yet meaningful moments that act as reminders to us.  Let’s face it & that is that while we are kicking butt whether it be on National kick autoimmune disease butt day or any day in between community makes a gigantic difference.  It has taken me what seems like a zillion years to accept care from others.  I love caring for others but it is an awkward learning curve accepting care in return.   It is a work in progress & that is fine.  On a lighter note I am grateful for the smell of fresh apple  & pumpkin pie baking for the second day in a row in my wee oven in my sunlit kitchen.  I am even thankful for the strong advocation that our sons provided this morning as they explained that they had accidentally eaten the rest of last night’s pies & so needed more made.  How can you argue with that?  How do you accidentally eat pie?  How great to get up from the dinner table on Sunday night & have the biggest decision be whether to watch the Toronto Blue Jays’ game or the Montreal Habs?  Yes, I am one pretty fortunate rascal.  Incidentially both teams won their games so that too was a bonus.  For family & friendships from the very beginning of my life to the very last breath I am big time grateful to & for.  This includes you!

My heart’s hope for you is that if you are going through a particularly big time of struggle that you can look at your list of gratitudes & ride that wave.  If you are having an especially difficult time you may not see me but I am here cheering for you.  Every single day I say a prayer for every single person living with diabetes & other ongoing illnesses.  Whether I have seen your face or not, I consider you a friend.  Do not give up.  Ever.  Reach out if you need to because love multiplies when shared.  When we each give encouragement & kindness it has a beautiful ripple affect.  Bless all my Battle Buddies.  I am cheering for you every single day.  Happy Canadian Thanksgiving & Happy National Kick Butt day!  xoxo


28/09/2015 09:37

Just Call Me "Slartibartfast"

Recently, my husband took me out on a mini date to Starbucks where I admit that I am addicted to heavily laden caffeine beverages…specifically the lime refreshers & double espressos.  He would seem like an intimidating fellow to most however he is in fact a teddy bear with a huge heart.  I have lost count of the number of times that Greg has looked me in the eyes & said, “I would take that (any of the chronic illnesses that I have) on if I could.”  There are no words to describe my gratitude to my best friend for loving this rascal for over 2 decades now in words & actions.  One of the things that Greg does from time to time is to take me out to Starbucks for my caffeine fix even though he prefers Timmy’s & that is putting it mildly.  His face generally gives away his utter distain for going into what he describes as a complicated coffee place.  He does not like being asked for his name for the cup & only likes the hot chocolate there.  (who doesn’t!)  The last time we went there for our 45 minute date I waited for it…for the lady working there to ask him for his name.  What kind of mini rant was going to happen this time?  Would our photos be placed on the walls of this coffee shop forbidding us from returning I humourously wondered.  “What is your name for your cup sir?” the coffee jacked up Goth girl asked my husband.  Without a moment’s hesitation the response from him was “Slartibartfast.”  The girl’s response in a polite voice was “how do you spell that?”  That kind of was funny in itself though because if there is one thing that my husband loves it is spell check since spelling is something that remains his nemesis.  He is a mathlete & spelling is not his talent so I had to jump in there to spell the name for the cup.  The girl working there though sadly missed the joke because she did not get the reference.  If you have experienced the movie or the books “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” then you get it.  If you haven’t read or watched this classic then it is well worth it.  As an aside the girl at the coffee shop spelled my husband’s “name” correctly however instead of being “Saundie” I was “Cassandra.”  Oh well, autocorrect usually renames me to “Saunders.”

Do you sometimes feel like you are part of the concept in that story line outlined in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”  Specifically, do you at times feel like the mice are the ones running the show & we as humans are actually the lab test subjects?  The thing about humour is that some truth often resides there be it ever so absurd don’t you find?  I am the first to admit that daily I feel like a human test case especially when it comes to diabetes management.  There are experiments that we conduct on ourselves like seeing if exercise at a certain point will make insulin more “productive.”  There are countless experiments that we conduct to see if this time around our results will be similar to previous ones where the outcome was a beautiful in range blood sugar result.  If we have other “365’s” then no doubt we have tried various trials of potential things or strategies that might make the illnesses better.  An easy personal example comes to mind regarding the celiac that I live with & that is simply giving up wheat, gluten & dairy.  Wow, what instant relief.  When gluten sneaks in there from getting accidentially cross contaminated or not identified properly on the outside of a food product I am quickly reminded through participating unwillingly in this experiment that it is a chronic disease & it is certainly not cured.  It is strange though the number of people out there that will say things like “you are cured because you gave up gluten” or “you are cured because you have an insulin pump.”  What?  The thing is though that people generally don’t understand an illness unless they are living with it.  Sometimes people will ask me strange things like “do you miss foods like croissants, Cinnabon & donuts?” Other times they say “do infusion sets or injections or glucose tests hurt?”  Not being a robot you can insert my feisty response.  As an aside, recently a Dear Heart needed to go to the hospital & one of the things that they needed as part of their care was a needle.  The nurse said to me “I am sorry about the needle that is about to happen.”  Being a feisty one I simply said that I am not sympathetic about needles as I use to have to give myself 4 every day plus 12 finger pokes so it was going to be a suck it up buttercup moment.  I did feel very badly however for my Dear Heart when it was time to get the repeated what seemed like student training for the iv.  Yikes!  Personally I believe that iv’s are needles from hell.

Inadvertently I found myself in a when baking & when psoriasis & celiac & type 1 diabetes collide kind of experiment this past week.  For the past week I have been making apple pie & crisps & have been one peaceful rascal while doing this.  It is a labour of love & with my Grandma’s apples from her orchards this time in the kitchen has been even more precious.  I started out making the “normal” wheat flour pies for my Dear Ones but I did not think that one through I discovered for 2 reasons.  It would have made more sense to start with making gluten free pastry & pies I realized after the fact because it would not have been so arduous to get the counter “unglutened” had I begun with the gluten free flour & pies & then done up the wheat flour afterwards.  Mental note has been made for next year…live & learn.  This is my first adventure with making gluten free pastry.  Frankly I had procrastinated it & kind of convinced myself that it would be brutal to pull off a decent tasting & looking gluten free pie.  I had read up on the techniques & they are much different from making wheat pastry & quite finicky.  The other thing I found out the hard way was that actually making the wheat flour has affects on not just the obvious one of celiac but also on the psoriasis & hey of course type 1 diabetes always wants the loudest voice it seems so it got involved in this unplanned experiment as well.  When you smell fresh wheat crust apple pie cooking it is an exercise in supreme will power to not eat it but I knew that I might have a decent gluten free apple pie to look forward to so will power was invoked.  The repercussions of eating wheat are nasty & I don’t need to say anything beyond that…maybe you live with celiac too.  It is not uncommon to have type 1 diabetes & celiac.  Unfortunately one autoimmune disease begets the next one & I now have 4 but this is no woe is me tale.  I was made for a feisty fight & that is what I will do until I don’t have to anymore end of story!  Long story shortened, I found out the hard way that wheat flour makes the psoriasis (autoimmune disease) go berserk.  When I make pastry I make a mess & flour goes everywhere including on my skin.  The wheat flour took the psoriasis to a whole new level of agitation.  Thankfully there were just 2 days working with the wheat flour so hopefully the psoriasis will get a hold of itself man so to speak.  The link to diabetes…the flowchart always seems to arrive at the bully of diabetes & its loud screams if another “365” is having an outburst.  With the super flare of psoriasis came inflammation & parallel subsequent high blood sugars.  Rats!  It turned out to be less of a hassle to move on to working with the fragile gluten free pie crust dough.  If you haven’t made gluten free pie crust I found it to feel more like working with the salt dough that most of us made in grade school only even more fragile prior to being baked & much sticker & prone to breaking than wheat flour.  The great news though is that once I baked up a mini gluten free apple pie our curious sons insisted on trying it & they all said that they like it even better than regular pie.  Honestly it does not quite taste as delicious as wheat flour pie but it is pretty darned delicious so I am happy…really happy because I am eating a slice of it right now while writing.  Gluten free baking is coming along better I am finding although it does take longer & lots of experimentation (and espresso & feisty determination).

In the last several weeks the medical appointments for me & a couple of Dear Hearts have ramped up.  All of us have felt like part of experimentation at times.  As a funny aside, one of the appointments that I had was my annual trip to the optometrist.  If you have diabetes then you know that feeling of almost holding your breath while you await the test results each year from the eye exam.  The parking lot & perimeter of the optometrist office building was surrounded by massive construction this year.  There was a strange maze like way of getting into the building that made very little sense & there were many people frantically trying to get to appointments while doing the maze.  One lady came out of the maze & said to me “if you figure out how to make it into the building you pass the psychological test.”  That gave me a belly laugh.  The best part is that my eyes I found out are perfect…no diabetic eye complications phew after living with type 1 for coming up on 8 years now.  With a couple of medical appointments that I attended for Dear Hearts there were medical students doing part of the exam or procedure.  That can be a little unnerving & I admit that I asked the doctors in both cases to double check the students’ work not to be disrespectful but just plain because I want the very best for my Dear Hearts (who wouldn’t).  The most recent experiment that I just started is for the psoriasis & I am so hopeful that the treatment will send it into remission.  That would be a bonus for sure.  It involves going to the hospital 3 times a week for the next 4 months so that is a bit of a hassle but if it works it will be worth it.  This afternoon I guess I will be in human experiment mode since I have yet another doctor’s appointment for a newly emerging medical issue that of course has the type 1 diabetes screaming its brains out sending me without warning into highs & lows all over the map.  That ticks me off because these current blood sugar numbers are going into my A1C for my next appointment & they are terrible & I will have to explain it all.  Thankfully my endo & nurse are outstanding so my appointments are an adult experience vs feeling like a little kid being sent to the principal’s office.  Having a calendar filled with medical appointments drives me up the wall but I am working on focusing on the things that I am grateful for instead like access to medical care.  Bigger than that I am focusing on being more peaceful & more okay with whatever each day brings.  That is a new experiment since my natural tendency is to be hyper, a worrier, controlling where my health is concerned, and to pack too much into any given day.  Also I am trying not to be such a contributor to our family swear jar.  I will blame high blood sugar a bit for that though. 

Here’s the thing that I discovered about homemade apple pie & that is that it is a mood lightener.  I love the smell of apple pie baking in my little oven.  I love being in my kitchen & I am as grateful  as I was 9 years ago to be baking in this wonderful chaotic home that we moved into.  When I walked into the kitchen 9 years ago I knew it was home.  When you have 3 sons let’s face it, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  I love it here.  I love my family & I love it when my friends come over & I get to share laughter & life & pie or cake or anything homemade with them.  I love being that friend who seems to have too many teapots until friends discover that I put out a tea buffet along with the treats because having just 1 or 2 or 3 types of tea is just not how I do things. 

My heart’s hope for you is that you find countless things to be grateful about.  Chances are they are the things that are not things at all.  Gratitude makes a huge difference.  May you always have someone in your life to share the ups & downs with.  Maybe it is the person that asks for a second opinion or maybe it is the person that makes you homemade pie.  And yes people with diabetes can eat that!

Smiles, Saundie :)

May your week be filled with bounty from the harvest.  The farmer’s market is filled with absolutely gorgeous veggies & fruit.  Thank a farmer while you are at it.  And if you are in my neighborhood just give me a wee bit over an hours notice & come over to my happy, chaotic kitchen for a tea buffet served with warm apple pie.  Next Monday’s story is in the creative ether as it often is ;)


15/09/2015 12:20

From This Granddaughter's Heart


It would be a Captain Obvious statement to say the same thing over again about having found my way of being in a feisty love kind of living.  Over the years of life with type 1 diabetes & other “365’s” I have described how the feisty rascal who I have grown into has provided strength for life’s journey.  Where did this feisty rascaliness originate from though?  Like a delicious recipe don’t you find that our families sprinkle in a little of this & a little of that.  There are no words fine enough to share just how blessed of a rascal I know I am to be a part of the extended families that I belong to.  If feistiness is really strength dressed up in an advocating role then many of us wear this well.  If feistiness is standing up for what is right & having a voice wouldn’t we all want this stirred into us all?  Life after all has mountains & valleys for every single one of us on this earth.  Different qualities get each one of us through the valleys.  For me having a good sized helping of inherited feistiness is what gets me through it all & with a touch of rascaliness stirred in intentionally.  If you are feisty where did that come from?  If asked that question I have always known that my feistiness came from my Grandma Brown. 

As a funny aside it always made me laugh so much when people who had not met my Gran would relay a picture in their heads about the grandma “type.”  They thought Grandma was a stereotype baking cookies, taking it easy, pinching cheeks & speaking sweet nothings.   My Grandma broke that stereotype & then some.  Gran was one of the strongest people I have ever known.    How great to love your Grandma while you are a child & also as an adult.  As a kid my Grandma was a hoot mostly because of the antics between she & Grandpa.  Grandma you could get going as she was one to get her feelings out & Grandpa was a gentle giant always dear to my heart with a rascal humourous streak.  My favourite example of Grandpa Brown & his ability to get Grandma going was one time when he was late for dinner.  Dinner time at their place was exactly 5pm.  Grandpa came home late for dinner one evening & had tipped a few beverages back with his army friends prior to getting home so he was even more rascally than usual.  Grandma was hitting the high notes as far as her patience went by the time Grandpa opened the door to their home.  She let him know in no uncertain terms that she was not impressed about him being late for dinner.  Grandpa though continued to egg her on & joke around.  Who needs a stress ball when you have a freshly made lemon meringue pie!  Grandma grabbed the pie & threw it in his face.  Grandpa simply smiled  & replied, “you could have put more sugar in the lemon Ev!” 

As an adult I got to learn more of Grandma’s story & I understood & appreciated the gift of the feisty.  Grandpa left us way too soon (heaven is richer having him there) & Grandma was only 53 & had already lived through many of life’s valleys yet you never heard her moan or groan.  She got on with continuing to run her several apple orchards, pie making, preserves for the fruitstand & managed several catering jobs during the winter months.  She was one to pitch in wherever needed without ever being asked.  She was a doer big time & worked harder than three people put together on any given day.  You did not have to wonder where you stood with her because she communicated her feelings unapologetically herself.  I loved that about her & have been embracing that way of being for a couple of decades myself though it is not second nature.  I had a remarkable teacher in this feisty lady.  Last week our family lost our feisty, fierce matriarch.  Within each & every family member though I see such strength & fierce love of family that we all learned through Gran’s example.  Last Friday I had the privilege of sharing from this Granddaughter’s heart just a snapshot of a Grandma who was so easy to draw strength from, laugh with & to love fiercely.  Being an advocate is the easiest, most natural thing in the world for me although at times it seems like I am doing it from the back of the classroom in a voice that is still increasing .  The feisty is there though & it is growing & I am grateful for this gift that came from one incredible Grandma.  May you too have a source of strength & some feisty wells to draw upon so that as you journey through the valleys of life that you know you can get through anything.  And hey why not be a bit of a rascal while you are at it I say.  Here are the words shared last Friday in honour of my feisty role model.


We all share a bond that started with someone feisty & fierce in a great kind of way.

I would love to share a few memories from a grandchild’s heart. 

If there was just one word to describe Grandma Brown it is “cool.”  Many of us know firsthand that Grandma was no wallflower.  She had a feisty cool way that was all her own.  I got to see my Gran in many different roles.  What I will always love best is that she was exactly the same every time.  She was our Grandma that spoke her mind.    

She was my very first boss in 2 different jobs.  The first job was at the fruit stand that Grandma & Grandpa built. That was where I learned the difference between work ethic, Grandma’s intolerance for slackers as well as her intolerance for weak tea.  First thing in the morning during the Fall each weekend Grandma pulled into our driveway & off we went to the fruit stand.  You could gauge Grandma’s level of passion about any given subject by her driving.  Any of us who have been one of her passengers knows that it was best to keep chit chat light because when she got feisty about a subject she took her eyes completely off the road & turned & looked you right in the eyes while going 80kms an hour.  Yikes!  I loved that first job big time though.  Grandma taught sales, marketing & provided bakers training all in the course of a day.  Grandma’s pies were legendary.  She never could however quite understand my consistent difficulty in selling the last pie each day.  Little did she know that Grandpa checked in at the fruit stand & with a wink he said every Saturday & Sunday, “Saundie maybe there will be a pie left over for dessert tonight?”  Grandpa can now let you in on that wee secret. 

Grandma was my boss at Blue Mountain as well.  Everyone there respected her.  There were no slackers & for sure the person that always was right in there working even harder right by your side was Gran.  I got to see her encourage & listen to many young people working with her.  If someone said or did anything rude or unfair Gran got right in front of that.  She had your back for sure.  More times than I can count people at that job told me that I have one cool grandma. 

In the community & within family & friendships Grandma had a heart of gold & is the definition of kindness put into action.  She was rolling up her sleeves & making pies & other delicious treats for any occasion & made it seem like no big deal at all.  One memory that is especially dear to me is when my Dad was in the hospital & Grandma came up to visit him complete with a huge joke file. Some of them should have been censored :) She read out the jokes & made quite a difference.  Then as she was leaving she turned to my Mom & I and matter of factly said “stop in for dinner on the way home.”  By the time we got to her place she had made a delicious dinner complete with warm raspberry pie with raspberries picked from her garden.  She made you know that she cared through these countless acts of kindness.

There are 2 examples of Grandma’s cool factor that are my favourites of all.  My oldest son Matthew has a Kiss poster on the wall in his room.  When his buddies come over they ask him where he got the poster & if he had been to a concert.  “No, I haven’t been to a concert” he replies but my Grandma & Great Grandma went & they brought back this poster for me!”  The reply from the buddies is always the same, “you have pretty cool grandmas.”  How many 20 something year olds would ask their grandma to go on a 2 week trip to Mexico?  When you have a cool grandma you sure do!  What a hoot that trip together was.  Grandma was convinced that between the 2 of us that we could surely master speaking Spanish well enough to go to a restaurant & order anything.  We ended up receiving something that resembled shrimp soup although we were not ordering fish at all & we just laughed & ate it.  Somehow we got onto the subject of drinks we had never tried & decided that we should try long island iced tea at our resort.  When the drinks arrived, I took 2 sips & fed the rest to the plant next to me.  How about Grandma though?  She drank every drop.  After that she literally had a crowd of vacationers around her as she described many of her experiences.  For the rest of the vacation our dining table was full of new friends wanting to hear more of the cool grandma’s stories.  What a character.

It has been fun over the years catching Grandma off guard with a joke of your own.  When I stay at mom & dad’s I like to answer their phone with “Joe’s bait shop, if you’ve got the dough I’ve got the roe.”  One time grandma called over & I said that & she immediately hung up & got in her car & came over to mom & dad’s place.  When she got there she knew she had been pranked & you can insert the word that she used to describe that one. 

In a great kind of fierce & feisty way there is only one thing that I know for sure & that is that love absolutely lasts forever.  Well and that the tea is not strong enough unless the spoon melts in it.  Thank you grandma for your legacy of fierce & feisty love.  Xo


With a wink to heaven,


This past weekend my Mom & Dad & I picked some beautiful apples & pears from Grandma’s orchards on a day out that I am sure she ordered up because it was one of those rare perfect days outside.  There will not be as much rascaliness for me to get involved in this week since my labour of love will be to make these apples into pies.  Grandma & I made hundreds of pies literally together over the years.  The secret ingredient to our pies is a pinch of rascal and a lot of feistiness stirred in ;)  Be extra gentle with yourself, find something to have a belly laugh about & stand up for something that matters every single day.  Hug the stuffing out of all your Dear Ones while you are at it.  As a little rascal sharing for today, I started my light therapy finally at the hospital this morning & as I was leaving the hospital a gentleman that I don’t know said to me “good morning Doctor.”  I smiled & decided not to correct him as the closest thing to a doctor that I am is Dr. Seuss ha ha!    My next story sharing will be on Monday September 28th.  xo





14/09/2015 15:54

One More Day

This week's sharing will be posted on Tuesday September 15th in the afternoon.

As always have a gentle day.


31/08/2015 01:04

Sometimes You Need A Little...Sometimes You Need A Lot


Gotcha!  You likely think this story is going to be about life with type 1 diabetes sometimes needing a little insulin & other times needing a lot of insulin.  That is not the direction I am going at all this time.  Let’s face it that it kind of goes without saying that that whole diabetes & insulin correlation thing has been done & then done again.  It is a little like saying that the sky is blue in other words.  At the risk of completely dating myself, my question for you is do you remember the commercial several decades ago that had the jingle of “sometimes you need a little Finesse, sometimes you need a lot?”  The commercial was playing on the word Finesse since the product itself was entitled that & we are all aware of the definition of the word finesse.  Those were in the big hair days & hair spray commercials were all the rage.  I was a little girl at the time of those commercials & frankly I don’t remember seeing too many ladies that chose to use just a little of the hair spray by the name of Finesse.  It is funny to look at photographs of family during the big hair days.  Each generation though likely finds the previous generations photos to look kind of funny because time & trends march on. 

The finesse that my mind travels to from time to time is the one in conjunction to new forms of cooking/baking.  Is it an art or a science or a combination?  In my kitchen my cooking & baking tend more towards being an art versus a science mostly because I am a rascal when it comes to wanting to follow a recipe to the letter.  I believe in a wee modification here & there.  Some recipes I have come to learn from experience would be better followed as a science.  Two examples come quickly to mind.  The first one is the automatic bread maker bread.  I have gone too far with my modifications from time to time & ended up with something resembling household grade concrete.  The second is the one time when I messed/modified a perfect canned peach recipe entrusted to me by my husband’s grandma.  I learned my lesson on those 2 recipes & found that being a bit of a kitchen scientist provided for a delicious outcome in those specific instances.  Everything else though I throw in a pinch of this & that & take out this & that & pretty much have an out loud one sided argument as to why putting in what is called for in most recipes is ludicrous or ridiculous or just plain gross sounding.  It is a feisty, fun kind of cooking & baking full of animation that takes place in my kitchen.  The ingredient that I claim is the secret ingredient to everything is love.  Okay, enough of the hokey stuff.

Has your kitchen ever looked like a complete science lab or worse an experiment gone terribly wrong?  I am not talking about a wee flop here or there when it comes to preparing a dish.  What if you went from feeling completely at ease with cooking to feeling like a toddler in the kitchen?  How would that feel?  Maybe you have had or are having this experience right now?  You just might be if you have had to give up a bunch of foods.  My list of foods for replacement is lengthy.  Due to celiac & many allergies identified 14 months ago, I am the toddler at times in our kitchen.  The 2 major changes over those months have been learning to cook with something other than wheat flour as well as all things dairy.  That has proven to be challenging at times.  The main courses have worked themselves out pretty well because spices & fresh foods are lovely.  Desserts are often an example of a science lab gone wrong in my kitchen though.  Muffins, cakes, cookies & more have been an abomination looks wise as well as taste.  Is gluten & dairy free cooking a science or an art?  That is a good question.  Is it a case of finding the cook book that clicks for us or getting some tips that make all the difference?  I don’t know.  It is very much a work in progress.  Frankly what I have going for me is that I live within a 10 minute drive to a couple of delectable gluten & dairy free bakeries just in case  the science lab gone wrong situation happens when company is coming over.  The other weapon I have in my arsenal is the wherewithal to make several goodies with some being gluten/dairy free & others on a separate plate being trusted oldies that can be served to dear hearts that can eat wheat & dairy.  It’s pretty awkward though if you sit there watching others enjoy goodies & have to sit it out.  It did not take long to come up with ways of dealing with this though.  First of all, how great is fruit!  Doing up a festive fruit platter means that everyone can have that sense of being at ease.  Then the other thing that I like to do is to find at least one baking item that is dairy free and gluten free that not only I find enjoyable but better than that, my dear hearts ask for the recipe for.  Do you know that feeling when you just are not certain whether people are complimenting a baking treat to be kind or if they really, truly enjoy it?  Well, I suppose I have had so many gluten & dairy free flops in the kitchen over the past 14 months that it is a big win to say that I have one gf/df baking treat that is a win!  This treat has been served to well over a hundred people in the past year with rave reviews consistently so it is the go to recipe for serving along with other recipes that are not gluten & dairy free.  (on a separate platter)  Many dear hearts have asked me for the recipe & so I thought that I would just go ahead & share it with all you dear hearts too.  A friend of mine recently reminded me that I hold my recipes pretty close to the vest so to speak so truthfully it is a push for me to actually share many recipes with others.  I kind of don’t like that about myself so here I go sharing my one & only baking success that is gluten free & dairy free publically.  The recipe is for date squares.  If you have diabetes you will need to know that this recipe has a boat load of carbs in it.  I only personally choose to have a tiny square because I have to take quite a bit of insulin relatively speaking to indulge in just one.  The accompaniment for a tiny date square that I find to be yummy is a cup of Tealish Lemon Meringue tea latte.  The latte is easy to make into a dairy free one by replacing the dairy with your choice of soymilk, almond milk or coconut milk.  I cannot seem to successfully enjoy soymilk without “repercussions” & am allergic to almonds so I make my latte with “So Delicious Original or Vanilla Coconut Milk.”  To make the yummy drink, I make the tea twice the usual strength & then froth the coconut milk & add it in & it tastes absolutely delicious. 

The recipe for the date squares is:


-4-6 cups chopped, pitted dates

-1/4 cup white sugar

-1 ½ cups water

-1-2 tablespoons fresh juiced lemon


-1 ½ cups unrefined virgin coconut oil

-2 cups brown sugar

-3 ½ cups gluten free flour (I use Pamela’s)

-1/2 teaspoon gf baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon gf baking powder

-3 cups of gluten free rolled oats

In a saucepan over low heat, combine filling ingredients & cook until thickens.  While waiting for filling to thicken, make dough.

In a large electric mixing bowl, cream coconut oil & brown sugar well.  Next add oats & mix well with electric mixer.  Add the rest of the dough ingredients & mix well until totally blended together.  Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan with coconut oil & put in half the dough & pat down well.  Next cover this dough layer with date filling evenly.  Cover the date filling mixture with the remaining dough & pat down.

Cook 350-375 F fir 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool & then cut into squares.  Enjoy J

My heart’s hope for you is that you find something that you have had success with & share it with your dear hearts too.  The point of having a win is to share it don’t you think!


Saundie :)

As always be gentle with yourself & enjoy time doing something that energizes you & brings you joy.  And share those things with others around you.  The next Monday story idea will be entitled, “Just Call Me Slotty Bartfast” & it is actually not written yet.  That is how my creativity rolls though…for some reason I seem to start with a title & then create the story from there.  The next Monday story will be posted in two weeks on Monday September 14th mostly because from now until next Tuesday, I am squeezing in fun with our 3 sons before school starts back up for them.  Have a hit it out of the park 2 weeks!  (Go Jays Go as an aside).  And I am as always cheering for you too :)



24/08/2015 01:07

And Then There Were Two

The grid.  Have you ever fallen off “the grid” for a brief or extended time?  It is pretty seldom that I fall off the grid completely with the exception to that month & a half each winter on purpose.  The grid I am referring to is the support that has made all the difference in the world I have found over the past few years.  It is the one that lets each one of us know that we are not alone in “this.”  “This” of course is diabetes.  Specifically the grid is most often the DOC or diabetes online community that I am big time grateful to be plugged into.  A few times I have shared with you that finding another person living with type 1 diabetes that is an adult in person is a lot like playing a game of Where’s Waldo.  The thing is that the population of Canada is roughly 35 million & approximately 300,000 people ranging in ages from infancy to adulthood  in this country have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  What are the chances then of meeting up with another person who is an adult then in person here living with type 1 diabetes.  I am certain that if I posed that question to my mathie husband he would gift me with a gnarly looking math equation with a pretty accurate answer.  I am kind of ok with a guesstimate on that question though with an answer of less than a 1% chance at best.  A couple of years into having type 1 diabetes I tried to improve my odds of meeting & hopefully making friends with another adult type 1 person by being active in my local JDRF Chapter.  I met lots of incredible kids who were growing up way too fast because of this beastly disease & their parents & some teens but I remained the outlier being the lone adult coming out to events.  Countless times I was asked by parents of newly diagnosed children which one of our 3 sons was the one with type 1.  Each time I was met with shock when I responded that none of our sons have type 1 & that it is in fact me that has it & that I got it as an adult.  It can be tricky meeting other adults who have type 1 in my experience at least where I live.  Being a stubborn rascal though doesn’t hurt sometimes as I have the tendency to never throw in the towel.  What I have come to learn in life is that searching for friends just plain does not work out well at least for me.  On the other hand if I just go out into the world prepared to offer my own friendship & be friendly it is like a magnet.  I guess one way is more from the stance of wanting something for me & the other is being ready to offer kindness to someone else.  The second way rightfully results in friendship & when I least expect it I happen upon this precious treasure.

This past week was a rare time when I fell off the grid in a conflicted way.  Do you know that feeling when you want support & encouragement & for others to care when you are having a hellish time with diabetes?  Have you seen that popular meme out there that has a cartoon like picture on it with the person looking absolutely exasperated & it reads, “I am tired of your shit diabetes.”  Truthfully, diabetes beat the crap out of me last week.  It took everything that I had to just fight that beast last week.  Life goes on though & while I was doing that the juggling of family commitments continued.  My blood sugars were scary high for 9 continuous days & nights.  I did the usual change out infusion sets, try a different bottle of insulin, change my basal profile but it did not seem to matter how much insulin I took…I just did not get to the magical number.  The strange thing was that I was not “sick” with something else like a cold or something like that.  It was just one of those series of mysteries like the diabetes triangle.  Finally 2 days ago just as mysteriously my blood sugars turned around.  During the nine days of walking through the diabetes triangle of mysterious crazy high blood sugars our middle son made a bunch of new friends.  I am happy that our house is one that each of our sons’ friends gravitate towards (probably due to the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies wafting into the street ha! ha!).  I will level with you though…those 9 days the timing for the pretty much constant ringing of the phone & door bell were brutal.  Sometimes you “play in pain” & just carry on because that’s what you have to do.  The kids are young only once & summer is short & diabetes…well diabetes & its associated shit (pardon my French) is here to stay until there is a freaking cure.  Diabetes robs me of many things however it will not rob our children my feisty rascal self feels.  Meanwhile I felt conflicted emotionally because a part of me desperately wanted to share with my battle buddies on the DOC that I was feeling run over by a Sherman Tank with the crazy high blood sugars & I knew they would get it & would have encouraging words, some words of humour & that I would not need to feel so isolated.  The other part of me though felt like I was feeling so physically & emotionally beaten up by the sustained high sugars that I was so negative & so not myself.  I hate not feeling like myself & diabetes has that ability to do that I have found during sustained high blood sugars.  Not being myself turned out in the beginning to be my biggest clue that something serious was wrong with me physically in the few weeks leading up to me finally going to the doctors & finding out I had type 1 diabetes in November of 2007.  It is nice getting that warm, fuzzy feeling when many people (with diabetes as well as people without diabetes) have said to me that they appreciate my positive attitude as well as the feisty determination.  I have even had people say to me when I share that I am being beaten up by diabetes that they find that hard to believe & that my positive outlook will get me through.  Have you ever had those times in life where you kind of don’t want to hear that though?  How about those times when day after day high blood sugars are knocking you on your butt & the accompanying physiological & emotional tanks are hitting you on either side?  This was one of those times & really I did not want to bring others around me down with how beaten up I was feeling so I got quiet.  I don’t do that very often & thankfully I don’t tend to have high blood sugars for no reason for this length of time.  I have a hunch about what is going on but it frankly does not do me much good.  It is I believe hormones associated with the phases that we go through as gals & finding help on that one has been a dead end road.  It creates a belief in me that I may need to pursue a continuous glucose monitor possibly since my blood sugars are becoming more & more erratic…some weeks being low for days on end & other weeks crazy high for days on end with no clue as to when the coaster will take off in one direction or another.  The patterns are erratic so making sense of it all is tough.  Yes, I am tired of your shit diabetes.  I am tired of it for my family & for my friends living with diabetes & for me.  While I have not grown tired of “Angus” my insulin pump, I feel sick & tired of hearing about more devices in the works versus a freaking cure.  The high blood sugars for some reason must have stressed out other parts of my flawed autoimmune system so I also ended up in excruciating abdominal pain as well as a major painful psoriasis flare up.  The swear jar at our place filled up a lot over the past week & a half truthfully.  Would it be entirely wrong to take the contents of the jar & go out & celebrate the conclusion of this stint of high blood sugars? 

Okay, so here is the end of the crabby part of this week’s story & here beginneth the cool news.  I believe in happy endings so there will be one…yes there will be every time!  The diabetes triangle of high blood sugar funky stuff began to lift in the middle of afternoon tea last Friday with some dear heart friends.  Over our tea & laughs & being real the fog of high sugars lifted finally.  Thank you blood sugar fairies.  Sometimes 3-5 pots of tea with just the perfect, special company is medicinal I believe because somehow my blood sugars went to the beautiful 5-7 (Canadian measures) range & touch wood have remained mostly in that range for a few days now.  That is sweet mercy to me.  You will know exactly what I mean if you live with the beast of diabetes too.  About 15 minutes after my special dear heart friends left, our middle son returned from a short amount of time at our local youth centre with yet another new friend at our place.  The friend ended up staying until a wee bit past dark so I told him that as a mom I could not let him walk home on his own in the dark.  Our 2 younger sons & I walked the new friend home.  Once we got to his place I introduced myself to his parents.  And there it was!  The friend’s mom was wearing an insulin pump!   Within exactly 1 minute of meeting one another we were hugging one another & stating that we were in a secret kind of club…you know the pumpers are us club.  And like all club members the words that other people would have deemed as  personal questions were out there with no discomfort whatsoever.  Within 5 minutes we each knew when we were each diagnosed, whether we used the cgm, the names of our endos, the location of our diabetes centres, the control challenges of blood sugars and best of all without saying the words we smiled knowing that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  It was a relief for both of us to see that “waldo” was living within walking distance.  It turns out that my new battle buddy aka Waldo also was diagnosed as an adult with type 1 as well.  Now that is truly a rare situation & that is beyond cool.  And then there were two.  (Waldo One & Waldo Two).  How cool is that although I felt conflicted about reaching out to another person with diabetes for support & fell off the support grid, somehow against the odds a piece of community ended up coming to me.  This has also acted as a catalyst to remind me that the “me too” feeling is indescribably precious & that I miss all my battle buddies on the Doc & will accordingly get myself back on the grid.  It is time to get back on the grid where it is not a “where’s Waldo” feeling but rather “I’ve got your back” feeling.  There are no words appreciative enough to describe that.  And I will bring my new Waldo with me because friendship multiplies when shared…that is a mathematical fact!

My heart’s hope for you is that whether you too fall off the grid from time to time or not that you always have the support & encouragement of this precious diabetes community of battle buddies who have your back too!

Smiles, Saundie :)

May your circle of friends be ever growing.  Have a gentle week & next Monday’s story is a wee bit of a change up as I release/share something that I usually hold close to the vest.  Next Monday's story is "Sometimes You Need a Little...Sometimes You Need a Lot" :)




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