Alyssa's Journey with Type 1 Diabetes

An outlet, a diary of sorts, a place for thoughts, a place to connect,
an expression of feelings about Juvenile Diabetes......

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Break

Crazy schedules and eating on the go led to a few sugar spikes and drops, but for the most part D put little strain on our Key West Vacation!  There were even gummy bears and ice cream treats to help avoid lows after swimming and tumbling on the beach!  Our only medical issue was Lu clonking her head on a granite countertop just before we were heading home.  So a trip to urgent care, a stop for lunch and we were on the road!  No concussion and no stitches....just a headache.  🙉

Friday, November 15, 2013

Diabetes Awareness: But she's too skinny to have diabetes......

We have been extremely busy the last few months and I have gotten behind on my bloggin'.....A lot has happened in the Dean house since my last post so I have plans for several posts over the next few weeks!

However, with this post I want to discuss type 1 diabetes misconceptions.  I've touched on this topic in the past, but this issue has been coming up a lot more lately.  I used to get defensive when people would make these types of comments, but then I realized its because they don't know any better.

There are many misconceptions about this disease, but I've put together the ones I feel strongly about.  Here is my top 5 list of type 1 diabetes misconceptions:

  1. "But she's too skinny to have diabetes." Although diet and weight are factors for type 2 diabetes, it is not the cause of type 1 diabetes.
  2. "She can't eat that cupcake." As is should be for us all, moderation is key.  Also, there are times when sugar levels can drop too low and sugar is needed to raise it.
  3. "She can't play sports because her sugar will drop." Exercise is important for everyone including those with diabetes.  Precautionary measures like eating snacks and frequent bg checks can help avoid hypoglycemia.
  4. "She'll never be able to have children."  Diabetic pregnancy require closer monitoring, but there is no reason,  with excellent blood sugar control and diabetes management, that mother and baby will remain healthy throughout the pregnancy and birth.
  5. "Taking insulin will cure diabetes." Insulin is not a cure, it is their life support.  Unfortunately there currently is no cure for diabetes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Enjoying the summer!!

What's been going on.....

Whew....well things are going well with Alyssa!  She is healthy and active and enjoying the summer!  Life is busy and hectic for our whole family and I haven't had the time to catch up our blog!

Before school got out Alyssa's elementary school held a Kid's Walk to Cure Diabetes (JDRF) and Alyssa raised the most money out of the entire school!  She was gifted a huge care package from Chick Fil-A as well as many other prizes from JDRF!

On June 15th Alyssa celebrated her 10th birthday with a party with her friends at the park!

Now we are preppy for walk season and looking forward to taking part in all the activities!  In the meantime Alyssa is working hard at the thing she loves the most, competitive cheer and enjoying the summer!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our insulin pump is the best!

We are approaching our six month mark since starting on the pump.  I have to tell you that getting used to the pump did take some time, but I honestly feel it was the best decision we could have made.  Alyssa has adjusted nicely and honestly knows how to work it better than I do.  Site changes have become much easier and we have had little problems.  I still get up and check her blood sugar between 2 and 3 am, depending on what time she went to bed.  She sleeps right through this check and this makes me sleep much better.  This has helped me catch a couple of lows as well as make corrections for any night time highs. 

In our case the pump has also helped with lows that are the result of exercise.  We disconnect during cheer practice and performances and have had only 2 or 3 lows.  This is because with the pump, Alyssa no longer needs her long lasting insulin that's peak can be unpredictable.  We check blood sugar levels before and after and correct accordingly.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fall happenings and pump update

Well, Alyssa has been using the pump for a little over a month now.  We've had some ups and down, highs and lows; and tears and laughs....I would be lieing if I didn't tell you there have been times I thought I had made a mistake by pushing for Alyssa to get on the pump....I'd be lieing if I said I had not thought about disconnecting it and going back to shots.  But I keep reminding myself why this will be best for her in the long run. 

The hardest part....the first several site changes were a nightmare.  Alyssa's anxiety about them got her so upset leading up to it that it took at least an hour to calm her down to put in the new site. Fortunately that has gotten better.  The problem now is that she'll only let me put the sites on her bottom....we are alternating cheeks.  We have done the stomach once but she hated it.  Alyssa is so petite, her bottom is the only place she has any extra meat. 

We have also had a few scary high and low bgs that seem to have come out of no where.  There were also a few night time lows, but I think we've worked out those kinks with basal rate changes.  In the beginning I was checking her bgs every 3 hours while she slept, now I'm only checking once in the middle of the night.

I do finally feel we are getting the hang of things.  There definitely are many pros of using the pump.  Alyssa has much more freedom with when and what she eats....if she wants something to eat at any time, we just bolus for the carbs.   Its so nice to enter her carbs and the pump figures the amout of insulin...all of this without another injection.  This made Halloween and Thanksgiving a lot less stressful!  One site change every 3-4 days versus 12-16 injections over 3-4 days.

 Also, besides a few spikes and lows, her average blood sugars have been really good.  During cheer and tumble, we disconnect and honestly have had fewer lows during exercise because she's no longer on the long lasting insulin, Lantus. Since she's given little amounts of fast acting insulin every hour through the pump she no longer needs the long lasting.

Overall, even though I've had some moments of doubt, I believe the pump will afford Alyssa more freedom and as she gets older, more independence.  As with any change, adjustments should be expected.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I don't know who was more excited this morning... Me or Alyssa? We've both been anxious for this day, especially since we received her pump over a week ago. The huge Animas Ping Box and the slew of pump supplies are hard to miss when they are taking up 1/2 my kitchen table.

Since we've received the pump, Alyssa and I have played with it. I read 'the book' and watched the video, and when we sat down with the pump trainer things ran smoothly. Alyssa demonstrated most of the functions. After we set up the pump, filled it with insulin and checked blood sugar, it was time to insert the infusion set. The infusion set is a spring loaded device that punctures the skin with a needled and as it withdraws leaves a cannula. The tubing from the cannula connects to the pump and this is how insulin is infused.

Because Alyssa was scared, I asked her if she wanted to put the infusion set on me first. Of course she did... I'm still wearing it :)

She was a little scared but was very brave. As a reward we went out for a chocolate sundae :). So great to bolus for 50g of carbs by remote!!

The next few days are going to require close observation and I'm expecting some changes. In the beginning we'll be checking bg's before meals, 2 hours after meals, before bed, at midnight and at 3 am. The goal here is to eventually improve Alyssa's life and I feel the pump will after we all get used to it.

Another cool thing, we never noticed our endo wore a pump or even that she had T1D... Alyssa saw hers today and its the same pump we use :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Diabetes stinks....

This morning while I was straightening Alyssa’s hair (today is picture day at school), I asked her, “If someone asked you what it was like to have diabetes, what would you say?” She replied simply with, “Diabetes stinks.” Now, for those of you who know Alyssa, you know that she can be quite dramatic. For instance, if she’s has a headache, her head is “killing her to deathhhh” or when she’s told to clean her room, she‘s been known to lay out in the floor explaining she‘s way too exhausted to take on such a task. So, as you can imagine, I was expecting a much more elaborate answer….like “diabetes is horrible!”, or “diabetes is the worst thing ever invented!”

Now most would think that this reply was a good thing. That Alyssa has adjusted to having diabetes, and that although it’s not great, it really isn’t that bad. Instead, her answer saddened me at first. What child should have to endure this? What child should not be able to eat a piece of candy without thinking about it or be able to eat a piece of their friends birthday cake without looking to their mother to be sure it’s ok. (Side note: at a recent birthday party she told me that she wanted to give up eating pizza so that she could have a slice of cake.) What child should have to prick her finger so that it bleeds before each meal, before physical activity, after physical activity, before she goes to bed, in the middle of the night, and every time she doesn’t feel just right. That’s any where from at minimum 4 and up to 8 times a day. What child should have to have 2 SHOTS in her bottom after breakfast, a SHOT in one of her arms after lunch and a SHOT in her other arm after dinner and sometimes a SHOT before bed if her glucose levels are too high.  What child should have to face the risks of heart and kidney disease, blindness, amputations, and early death?  More simply, what child should not be able to go to a sleep over or anywhere without their mom?

I know there are many diseases out there, and each one of them sadden me….especially any disease that robs a kid of the childhood they are entitled to. Diabetes is a disease that can do just that….if its allowed to….. My husband and I refuse to let this happen. The day Alyssa was diagnosed, I prayed that God would let me take this from her. I think in a small way He has because she has no fear or anxiety about the future of her disease.  I think she sees how diligent we are in advocating for her and researching for new treatments as well as preparing her to be able to manage this on her own one day.  She notices all the people who love, support, and push for finding ways to improve her life.  She knows that without research insulin would never have been discovered and meters wouldn’t be improving each time a new one comes out. Without research insulin pumps would not have been invented (We are so excited that Alyssa’s first pump is on the way and how its going to make life a little bit easier. And instead of 4 SHOTS a day, it will be a new infusion site every 3 days!!) Through all of this she believes living with diabetes will get a little bit easier over time. Most importantly, she trusts my words when I say there will be a cure one day.

I’ve said this many times….Diabetes is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, and I will gladly take that on for her.  In Alyssa’s eyes diabetes is just a small part of her life and I‘m happy in that.

*This year our team, Alyssa's Army, will be walking in JDRF's event, Walk to a Cure at Elon University in Burlington, NC.  If you would like to make a donation to our team, you can do so through the link below.

Alyssa's Army Walk Page