Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I was wondering...

why it had been so long since I last blogged. Have things been too hectic around here? Was I running out of inspiration? Maybe other priorities? I really don't know. It just didn't happen for a while. I had the intention to blog every now and then, but I never really got to it.

Today is the day I need to blog. Because I'm sad. Because I want to scream and shout. Because life is a bitch. I feel devastated and hurt and my heart is bleeding. Scrolling back through my blog, I saw that one of my last blogs was about how we are just promised today, not tomorrow. I can't believe this actually has happened. You had not yet come to terms with your papie's passing. You missed him so much and your heart didn't find the right way to heal. You missed your rock, your inspiration, your guideline and your mentor. He meant the world to you..

Did you ever realize how much you meant to that same world? Did you ever hear your family and friends say how much they appreciated you? You were so special, so unique, so unselfish. Whatever you did, you did in the best interest of others. I never heard you talk bad about anyone. You were always a very good listener and your heart was big enough to hold a great bunch of friends.

I liked to stop by, whenever I went to Bruges. Your cute little dog Troy was your pride, although you still missed Chablis, your previous dog. Troy is waiting for you to come home, sitting by the screen door, not understanding why the house is filled with crying people holding on to each other. I picked him up and tried to comfort him. We tried to comfort each other. Your daughter, your son, your husband and your friends.. we were all there to try to understand the reason for your being taken away. I do understand there is a reason for everything but I really can't see any reason for this loss. You were born 6 months before me. Too young to go explore the other world. Why? Just why???  You were needed here... you had been doing so well lately, trying to get control of your diabetes.
Do you remember our first date, at your parents' house? There was this instant click. It's been just a little over a year since we first met, but it seemed like we had known each other for much longer. Sometimes there is this connection one cannot explain. Even if we hadn't seen each other for some time, we just picked up where our last conversation ended.

You called me, late that Tuesday night. Our eldest daughter had been in an accident and you wanted to know if she was okay. We chitchatted a bit and we were making an appointment for a gathering with D-friends. I was having a low during our conversation so you told me to get some coke and promised me we would continue our conversation the next day. I will never forget that horrific Wednesday, October 22.. I wanted to hold you and tell you everything was going to be okay. I wanted to make sure the hospital staff did not remove your Dexcom so they would know if you went low. Being in a coma would not give you the opportunity to tell anyone if your bloodsugar was dropping. That worried me. What if you realized you were low but you couldn't speak? It is so terrifying..

I guess we will never really know what made your heart stop so sudden, so out of the blue. There was no prehistory of heart issues. Your diabetes was under control and you were not sick. We have been told you didn't suffer at all, if that can be of any comfort to anyone. I just wished we could turn back time..

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's been too long

There were so many occasions to blog about. So many opportunities to share and yet, I couldn't find the motivation to write things down and memorize the important things in life. Weeks go by and there are still not enough hours in a day to sit down and relax. We just came back from Florida, the same day MH17 got shot down in Ukrain.. It makes you reflect over life and you come to the realization life can be over in seconds. So many families that have lost loved ones. Children who have lost their parents, parents without their children, grandparents who have lost both children and grandchildren. We are thankful for having returned home safely and most important: as a complete family.

Florida was like coming home again. It felt so good, so natural. We didn't come in through Sanford Airport this time. We decided to pay Miami a visit before driving that Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Edition all the way to Kissimmee. It was amazing. So different but yet so familiar. How I have missed those trees, the highways, the weather, the people. This vacation was more active than our previous ones. We swam with manatees, went kayaking in Wekiwa Springs, did some shopping, visited numerous restaurants, had the best sushi, shopped some more, enjoyed different beaches and springs (we had never before seen water that clear and pure as in Juniper and Wekiwa Springs), celebrated July 4th near the Lakefront Park in Kissimmee, screamed our lungs out on a local rodeo event, visited Saint Augustine (man, my calves hurt for 3 days after climbing that lighthouse - I really need to work on getting in shape) and had the honor to spend a day at the Children With Diabetes congress in Orlando. I had been invited by Scott Johnson, a T1 colleague who lives in Minnesota and has been a wonderful diabetes advocate for many years. We met so many wonderful people on the congress and I felt blessed for this event, that has been created to make life of children with T1 diabetes a little bit easier. 
It was wonderful. We had been looking forward to Florida all year and it was no disappointment. I really hope to go back next year.. 

The girls did well in school and as usual: we are very proud of them. It's a privilege to see them grow up and do well. They are amazing and a true blessing. They are growing up alright. Lana has bought her first car (thank you Mammie, for giving her this opportunity) and she's been loving it ever since. It gives her independence and I can relate to her joy. It is such a big step into adulthood to have a car of your own and to be able to drive yourself to wherever you want to be. I still get that same overwhelming feeling whenever I get another car. By the way: the next car is a fact: right before we left for Florida, my new car found its way to our home. I didn't want to give up on 4x4, so this time we got a Honda CR-V. It's been a joy driving it so far.

Eva started working weekends in a restaurant. It gives us something new to talk about. I'm proud of her. Working in restaurants is hard and working late hours isn't easy if you need a lot of sleep. But she's holding on and she'll be combining it with her job at the nursing home during the summer holidays. It gives her some extra money to spend and it makes her realize life is hard and you need to work for a living. She gets responsibility and praise for what she's doing and that is so important at the age of 17. It is important at any age.

There's so much more to tell and I will get to it eventually. For now, let things be and get some rest. I need to go to bed and get up early in the morning. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Walk for a Cure

Today is my 12th Diaversary. It's not always been easy but I'm still here and there are no complications yet. I need your help though. Not just for me, but for everyone out there who has T1 Diabetes. Insulin is a treatment, not a solution. Some smart scientists are working day and night (well, they probably do sleep at times) to find a cure for T1 Diabetes. How could I just relax and sit back and wait for that cure to happen? Things don't work that way. It takes effort and fundraising and motivation. Most of all: it takes hope! If we have no hope there will ever be a cure, why would others hope for us? Don't give up, my friends. I know our doctors have told us there will be a cure in 10 years and some doctors promised that 30 years ago. We can't give up! That is just not an option. I know some of you are tired of fighting. Diabetes takes a lot of energy we don't have. We're not alone in this story. So many people out there who have family members, friends, co-workers, ... who share this condition.

Make your donation today. Don't delay any longer. 

We need your support big time! 


Monday, June 9, 2014

We just have today, we are not promised tomorrow

I first met the two of you last August. I had no idea who to expect and I was surprised by the friendliness you and your father welcomed me into his home with. Immediately I was impressed by the bond between you both. He was your inspiration, your rock, your adviser and caretaker. You could talk on the same level, like adults are supposed to do, even in a father - daughter relationship. I admired you for that. You cared deeply for him and I could tell by the sparkle in his eyes, how much he loved you. Right there and then, I realized how deeply a father can love his daughter and wish nothing but the best for you. I could read from the look on his face, how proud he was of you.

You told me he was very ill. He had had surgery and times had been rough. But he was doing better and both him and your mom spent several vacations abroad to enjoy each others company. You would take care of his dog in the meantime and keep an eye on their property. That's the kind of person you are: caring, loving, generous and loyal. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, I suppose.

Today I came to see you, completely out of the blue. We normally meet and talk about diabetes, since we share the same condition. There were no intentions for a meeting whatsoever, but your parents had brought me a tortilla pan from Spain. A pan I had been wanting for quite some time. You are so good at arranging things and surprising other people. We talked about your father and that he needed a check-up at the hospital, for he wasn't feeling too well. You always spoke of him in a soft voice and with love and compassion. He was your friend...

We said our goodbyes around 4:00 PM and I returned on my steps and said to you: don't worry about your dad, he'll be just fine. And you said: of course he will, he has to. I didn't expect your phone call later this evening. I'm so sorry for your loss, my friend. This must be so hard on you. Your father is at peace now. He has left a true legacy, a loving family and an amazing impression on so many people. Take care now. I'll talk to you soon xx

Saturday, May 31, 2014

It's been a productive day

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
I hate to clean house, I really do. Don't get me wrong: I love clean houses, but I don't like to clean them. It makes my back ache and it's really fulfilling the moment you're done, but within the hour, the sparkle is gone. It seems so pointless although I see the point of living in a clean house. Are you still with me?

Anyway, today my schedule read: Hubby work - tennis tournament, Lana - studying in Bruges, Eva - babysitting in Ghent. Meaning: I'm home alone! Meaning: the ideal moment to clean house :( I got started early this morning and by the time I had got the hoover out of the cabinet, my urge to clean had already left my mind.. I wanted to cook and bake and stroll through recipes on the Internet. I wanted to go grocery shopping and I wanted to present some kind of fancy dessert in my new Jamie Oliver bowls. But sometimes things just need to be done and today seemed like a good moment to do so, since I was home alone, the sun was out so the dogs and cat could play outside all day. Not?

I cleaned. I really did. But I cooked and I baked more than I cleaned. It was so satisfying to have fun in the kitchen. So many recipes to try out, so many ingredients to be tasted. In between recipes, I would sweep the floors and move furniture around. I would dust window sills and vacuum all of that pet hair on the couch. I must admit, it kinda looked good to see those pillows neatly on a cleaned couch with freshly washed throw blankets. The windows were ajar to let
Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
some the breeze in and my bottle of Febreze cleaned the air of dust and kitchen smells. Nevertheless, the kitchen was calling me to make Oven puffed pancake topped with berries for lunch. I enjoyed every bite sitting on the deck and was already thinking of my next dish to cook: home made ricotta ravioli with a lima bean and pea side. How I love to make my own pasta dishes... it's so satisfying and pleasant and a wonderful way to have some Me Time. No other hobby can give me this amount of pleasure as cooking and baking does. It's addictive to come up with new recipes, try them out, improve them and share them with the world. So many people who want to try out my food. I'm convinced they would like a BUY NOW button on the Internet when they see the food pics pass by.

Just the other week, an acquaintance asked me if I could make dessert for 50 guests next weekend. Of course I can! I have given it a thought and I came up with 5 wonderful desserts her guests will endeavor. So looking forward to that!

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
Should I go back to school and get a professional training in cooking and baking? I would love to... but I don't know if it's possible. Things are already quite hectic around here. Those classes are time absorbing but my fingers are itching and my heart is longing for more knowledge and improvement. Thinking of it, I'm ready to indulge my grilled peach dessert... wanna have a bowl?

Cooking and baking is not the best hobby if you have diabetes. I decided not to use substitutes in my recipes. I want the real thing so my recipes are nowhere near low carb. So be it. I put enough effort in taking care of myself and I try to keep my A1c as low as possible, but I'm not willing to give up on good food. It's too important for me to keep doing what I love to do. Too bad cleaning is not my hobby.. It would make life a whole lot easier.. and boring.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking good there!

It had been a while - you said 2 months at the least - since we last got together. Things have been quite hectic around here. I can see you during the day and you prefer evening get aways. So it's not always easy to schedule a date, but today we finally met up again.

Foto Cathy Van de Moortele
You looked fab! You dyed your hair and it was a bit shorter than last time I saw you. I felt like caressing your growing belly, but I wasn't too sure you would appreciate that. It was almost emotional to see you pregnant, since I missed your previous pregnancy. I was so anxious to hear the sex of your baby. You didn't want to tell me over the phone, so I had to be patient, but it was worth the wait. I'm so happy for you. That baby will be loved and cuddled and spoiled rotten. Not only by you and your family, but by your beautiful and intelligent son as well.

We sat down for a picnic that I had made for us. We babbled and laughed and ate in between the story telling. It was nice to sit out there, just the two of us - and that little cutie in your belly of course - discussing life and motherhood. You're a great mom. I hear your insecurity and your worries, but there's no need to. Children do real well if loved and you have plenty of love to give.

So looking forward to the end of August. This time, I'll be there to support you and stand by your side xx

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I can fight my own fight

We have lunches together. We like to hang out and chitchat. Most meetings are diabetes related. That's what happens when you have lunch with peers. Probably very boring if you're not interested in diabetes, but hey: we can all relate! It's not that we have nothing else to talk about, but diabetes is always one of the subjects. Not one person with diabetes has the exact same treatment as yours so it's always interesting to hear other people about their experiences. Although we always make fun of our friend Jan - we keep saying he doesn't really have T1 diabetes, since his numbers are just so steady - we wouldn't want to skip a meeting with him. He's witty and smart and he's so good at keeping his blood glucose steady, that he numbs us with the result. There's no way we will ever get where he has always been, but that's okay. We all do the best we can with the tools we have access to.

Same for our friend Katrien. She has had diabetes for a much longer time. She was just a teen when she got diagnosed. Back in those days, treating T1 diabetes was really hard. The tools were different and so was the approach. Things have evolved since. Katrien said goodbye to her insulin pens and instead, she starting using an insulin pump. Just before that switch, she got herself the best device possible to treat her condition. She and her loving husband got hold of the Dexcom G4, the Continuous Glucose Monitoring system, that tells us our BG at all times, day and night, day in day out. It warns us for upcoming highs and lows. I met Katrien before she got the Dexcom. Her life and that of her husband, was completely different. She would suffer from severe diabetic comas and epileptic seizures. At least once a month, she would loose consciousness due to a severe low. None of that has happened since she started using CGM. What a relief, what a difference. Her life has changed for the better. She has finally got the chance to alter her treatment and it feels good to see her get better.

We can fight our own fight, no doubt about that. After all, we have to fight our fight every day of the
year, year after year. It is a chronic disease, remember? We know what our body can handle and most of the time, we know why we went out of line. But still, it is good to sit down with peers every now and then, to tell our story and hear the other. I'm grateful for these meetings. Love you guys...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

No small talk

Seeing your child suffer, is one of the hardest things moms have to face. You only want the best for your children and you want to see them happy. Teary faces and broken hearts are part of life. You want to protect them from getting hurt, but you can't. Life isn't always one happy story. There are ups and downs and some days are better than others. Relationships can make you grow in life and we need them to learn about ourselves. It is good to love and be loved. Love is wonderful and it is painful at the same time. Knowing the other is always within reach, can be very comforting but frightening as well. Getting too involved can make you feel desperate once the other party is no longer there. It is hard to stay positive and strong when there's so much sadness and grief. I can tell you about my experience as a teenager in love. I'm sure most people can tell you similar stories. But it's not your story, it's not your grief, it's not your loss. Please talk to me. Open your heart and let those tears roll down your cheeks. You didn't give up - you are strong enough to let go. You had this idea of growing old with this love of yours. You can't call it failure. You have loved and you have been loved back in return. It was beautiful and you learned so much. Let your heart heal and try to remember the good times with a smile on your face. He'll be fine. You'll be fine. He will move on and so will you. I'm proud of your mature way of dealing with difficult situations nowadays. I'm proud to be your mom. I love you. 


The Student Exchange Program is an excellent tool for students to see the world. Having a host family abroad, is a fine way to experience other cultures and family life in a country different from yours. Last year, we had been given the opportunity to welcome the Italian Ilaria Landriscina into our home. She was not only our guest for 3 months, she became a family member. We are still in touch, just the way I still contact my American host family every now and then. Those are everlasting memories.

Last week, two German students came to stay with us. We were thrilled to have them over and make them feel at home. Mirjam Gröger and Hien Nguyen Totla were a pleasure to have around. They were like a sister to Eva and our dogs were more than happy with the extra cuddles. We didn't get to speak much German and there was no time to teach our guests some Dutch words. Communication went well though and we had a good time together, filled with joy and warm friendship. These two girls had never met before, but seeing how fast they got along, was moving.
Too bad their stay was so short. We should've had more time to get to know each other. I wanted to hear more about their lives in Germany, their family, their interests and activities. Lana offered them their room, while she was in Bruges. We were glad they got to meet each other right before they had to return to Germany.

It was nice having you over girls. Maybe we'll meet again, one day.

Unconditional love

At the age of 21, my friends were discussing their wish to get married and their hunger for children. I could not relate to their dreams, since they were so different from mine. I wanted to find a place to live on my own. I wanted to travel and see the world. The desire to be independent and free, was greater than the search to settle with someone else. I had had my number of relationships and there were plenty of families with children that asked me to babysit. But under no circumstances had I foreseen a family of my own.. 

Not planned at all and as a total surprise, I gave birth to two beautiful baby girls. Just two years apart but so different, they are the best thing that ever happened to me. Being given the chance to mother these two girls, has made me a better person. They make me look at myself and question my life, so I can give them the education and love they deserve. It brings me so much joy to hear their stories and witness their growth in life.  It takes effort and tears, laughter and happiness and it's a hard job. But being a mom is the only job worth doing for the rest of your life. You can never quit being a mom. These beautiful daughters are my life, my future, my hope and my comfort. They make me breathe and laugh. A film of their progress in life is running through my mind today. I can see them as babies, toddlers, preschoolers and I see their life change going to high school and turning into young teens. They are almost the same age I once was and I wonder if they will ever have a family of their own. 

Thank you for giving me the chance to be your mommy. It's the best gift I could've wished for.. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I hate it when you do that

It's been quite a while since my diabetes was so out of control. I must admit, I had not changed my site in time (okay, I was way overdue), so by the time I got the site out this morning, my skin was red and swollen and icky. I cleaned and disinfected the site and inserted a new one, far from the previous one (there is enough skin to find on my body, that holds enough fat to stand a site insertion). Grabbing my coat, I left the house to rush to work.

Driving the car, I felt this terrible thirst coming up. There's always a diet soda and a regular soda in the car, for emergencies. Instantly, I felt this was going to be one of those days... I emptied a 500 ml bottle of diet coke, but it didn't quench my thirst. My Dexcom told me my numbers were skyrocketing. Great... just what I needed. I'm tired already and a workday ahead of me wasn't going to solve the problem. I needed to focus on getting those numbers down. I got out of the car - it's only a 10 min drive to work - and tested my BG. My meter said 504... My Dexcom couldn't give any more details, since it stops counting at 400. It sure felt like 504. It was like someone made me eat a bowl full of oatmeal and forgot to pour the milk over it. Grumble... this was not going to be a great day...

The little girl I take care of, was ready for her nap and all I could think of, was having a nap myself. But it's work, remember? No time to nap.. She fell asleep in my lap and of course, I had to go pee.. again.. ggrrrrr... that's what high numbers do to your bladder. They make you run to the loo way too often to get rid of that excess sugar in your kidneys. Princess wasn't sleeping anyway, so I didn't feel guilty about getting up. I stumbled down the stairs, holding on to the banisters and making sure little Princess was held tight to my body. I put her down in her chair, went to the toilet, had 500 ml water to drink and went back to the toilet. I corrected multiple times this afternoon, to get those bloody highs out of my system, but it was like my body was resistant to insulin. It just didn't do anything at all. I knew it was gonna hit me in the face at a certain point, so I didn't want to overdo on the correcting part. I was so thankful for my Dexcom, so at least, I could see where I was headed towards without poking my fingers 12 times in a row. My numbers had stabilized around HIGH so I decided to give another correction bolus. I felt sick to my stomach by now and I had run out of diet soda and water. My mouth was dry and my body dehydrated. I was hungry as well but didn't dare to eat anything for I didn't want to go any higher. I was so happy little Princess decided to take another nap. We cuddled and dove into that comfortable couch together, turned on the TV and chilled out. I truly hate it when this happens...

Around 5 PM, my numbers started to crawl down, slowly but at least they were coming down. Right before I went home, I saw a straight arrow pointing downwards. Great... had another bottle of regular coke in the car - it was hot from sitting in the sun all day, but hey, who minds warm coke when you're about to faint? I drove home and decided to skip the carbs for the rest of the day. We had grilled prawns, tuna and salmon sashimi and some wakame salad.
I so enjoyed my dinner and was really full. I can't believe my Dexcom was buzzing again!!! This time to prevent me from going low. Cheese and rice! Come on! Can't you have just a little bit of sympathy here? Hello??? I'm full! Can't have any more food or drinks. I hate you Diabetes, at times I really hate you...

I stuffed down a small piece of toast, spread with Nutella, to get rid of that 78 pointing downwards. Did I get rid of it all right... In just an hour time, my BG read 238 again... WTF!  I want someone to take over. I want to sleep and forget about D, just for a couple of hours. I need that cure NOW!

Friday, March 21, 2014

What if happiness is not that obvious?

We all know the world is full of bellies carrying little babies. Once you're pregnant yourself or looking forward to having a baby, you see even more moms to be. One of my friends has had a baby just recently (and yes, I miss her and our chats, but don't we all know how busy our lives become once those little ones enter our homes), another one has a belly that is full of life and growing way too fast (I want to enjoy that wonderful sight of her pregnancy - I missed her previous one) and a third friend is in the early stage of expecting new life, while a fourth is about to deliver any time now.

Having two wonderful daughters of my own, I know what it's like to expect a child and give birth. I know the feeling of bringing new life into this world, the pain of being in labor and the happiness once that little creature uses its voice for the very first time. It's a feeling only moms can experience. Your life will never be the same, once you can call yourself a mom.

What if you have this dream, this one and only dream that would fill your life with so much joy and happiness that you would do anything to achieve your goal? What if things don't work out the way you want them to? Do people ever realize how hard it must be, when people ask you how come you haven't got children of your own? I can tell you: it hurts like hell. It sucks! It's not a good feeling at all... it can be very damaging indeed. Most of the time, the people asking, don't mean any harm. They are just trying to have a conversation and ask for the "obvious". But apparently it's not that obvious. Having children may not be that obvious at all. Sometimes the process can be really hard and the road to travel very long.  If only we could keep that in mind and support our friends and family that are so looking forward to having a little Prince or Princess of their own. An extra cuddle, some kind words and sympathy or small talk over a big mug of coffee. It's not that much to ask for. It's a delicate subject and there's not much you can do to help the other, but listen and understand. I care for you, my beautiful friend. I wish you all the best and all the luck in the world. My thumbs are still facing the stars. 

I have something up my sleeve

Having the Pisces sign, we knew you were going to be a creative mind. You have a good eye for art, music, fashion, photography, design. Sometimes you come up with real clever ideas. Things we would not have thought of. It is fun to watch your creativity grow and see you explore new dimensions. It's been some time now, since you started using those special markers. I had never even heard of them, but you know your ways around on the Net. I'm still astound by the wonderful drawings you make. The talent I lack in life, is patience. I can tell you: you have patience. I observe you making a piece of art in your sketch book, drawing fine lines and little patterns in a flowing way. You are gifted sweetheart. I am so proud of your latest project, you made for school. The school made it into a poster, to be hung all over school, so people would know about the project your class is involved in. You did real well. The fonts you chose, the colors you picked. Your artwork is neat and clean and unique. I like your style. No computer program involved, just your own creative ways..
Looking forward to seeing more of your talent.