Guest Blog: A Window Into My Life
I’m currently in Orlando, Florida at the Roche Diabetes Social Media Summit (more on that tomorrow!). Throughout this week and the beginning of next week, a few folks in the diabetes community have chipped in to help babysit Lemonade Life. I’ll have a couple of posts this week, but mostly you’ll be hearing from some awesome bloggers who are ready to share their story with you.
Today, I want to introduce you to Kaitake, an up and coming diabetes blogger from New Zealand. While I have not had the pleasure of visiting New Zeland, my fiance Erik spent a semester there studying abroad, so I jumped at the chance to have Kaitake share her story here at Lemonade Life.
I am an old hand at diabetes (T1 for 22 years, Dx at 5yrs), but still a noobie at this blogging thingymajig. It has been absolutely mind blowing to connect with folks around the globe going through similar situations to me. And it has restored my faith in myself and the world at large.
So, about me. Well, you already know that I’m diabetic. Did you know I live in New Zealand? The land of the long flat white. :P Or that I’m married to a wonderful fellow 18 years older than I? Perhaps you didn’t know that at 27 years old, I am a step-Mum to 3 delightful kids, the eldest of which has just got his drivers licence!
What made me start blogging? Well, Hubby and I have decided we wanna start a family. Together. Our own kids. Only one little problem was a little operation Hubby had while in his previous marriage. So my blog chronicles our achingly-slow progress through doctor’s visits, and eventually, we hope, IVF. Of course, diabetes always wants to be centre stage, so it’s made things “interesting” for me. My diabetes care team (Endo, diabetes nurse, GP, dietician) went into overdrive as soon as I dropped those 3 little letters into conversation: I.V.F. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so disastrously serious.
They started seriously looking at my blood sugars. Talking about getting an insulin pump. Loaning me a CGM. All this stuff I’d only ever heard of in American diabetes blogs. It has been overwhelming just considering it. (These things still seem too distant, like a flying car or something. I’ve only ever seen one insulin pump, and that was for less than 20 seconds!)
New Zealand is a lovely country, and the health system on the whole seems reasonably fair. Most people here don’t have health insurance. Don’t need it. The health system gives me nearly free access to all my doctors, and all my prescriptions. However that means that expensive stuff like a pump, or CGM are pretty much out of my reach because they’re not funded.
But maybe, if I get pregnant, my doctors can magically loan me some of these fancy gadgets? They all agreed that I would need a pump. Fine, but one thing that struck me was how I was getting all this increased level of care – suddenly – but only since I told them I wanted to get pregnant. It seems a bit strange to me that my doctors would only actually start taking me seriously once I plonked a possible pregnancy in their laps. Shouldn’t all diabetics, no matter what stage in life, get the same care? Care that includes medical professionals talking together and working together for the good of their patient. Treating their patient like a human being and even a friend. And striving to provide the best possible care no matter the cost? Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Prior to all this IVF stuff, my diabetes care felt like it was just coasting along. Throughout my childhood, I had what my doctors called “perfect numbers”. They were always incredibly happy. I got consistent low HbA1c tests. Everything was good. Once I became a teenager things started to gradually unwind. Although I stillattended all my appointments, I no longer had any contact with other diabetics. I was too old to go to the diabetic-kids camps which I had enjoyed. And living in a small city meant there was not a single other diabetic kid at ANY of the five local high schools. Or if there was, I sure never met them!
My doctors were not much help, they didn’t understand what it was like to be a teenager with diabetes. I was trying my best to look after myself, but I honestly had no useful diabetes-related education for about ten years. I was basically treating my teenage diabetes using tools and techniques I had learnt mainly from my Mum, when I was still a child.
All this meant that my HbA1c gradually climbed up to an all-time high of 8.1%
Two things have enabled me to get back to 6.7%. I credit both the fact that I told my diabetes care team about my baby-makin’ plans (and they subsequently started to actually do their jobs!), and secondly, I would NEVER have made such incredible progress without the support and knowledge from the D-OC.
I didn’t know what an insulin-carb ratio was. The diabetic bloggers knew! I had no idea what was involved in a diabetic pregnancy. Several lovely ladies were writing about that very thing! I wasn’t sure what I was doing was diabetes “best practice” anymore. My new friends around the world gave me help, tips, and encouragement. I have found that I am in a special little sub-segment of the diabetes online community. There are not very many folks out there talking about diabetes and IVF. My challenge to myself is to find more of these people and learn from them.
Allison’s post about how we define ourselves made me think about my life. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a step-Mum, a diabetic, a designer, a gardener, an amateur photographer, and now I can add labels like “infertile” and “ttc” to that list. It’s very interesting and has made me stop and consider my life. I’ve recently been made redundant, so I’ve had plenty of time to think. I have decided I am happy, and anything else will just be gravy.
Beautiful photograph, Kaitake, and thank you for sharing your story!