Monday, September 30, 2013

Like tearing off a band aid very slowly

Growing up is about getting chances in life. It's a continuous system of learning and experiencing. Turning 16 makes you long for that 18th birthday. In the mean time, you hang out in school, have good times with friends and there are no worries. The other sex looks more appealing than ever and you start dating. The feeling of being in love is just magical. We all wanted that first real love to be everlasting. Longing to be with your crush becomes priority number one. You write each other little scribbles and his text messages make your cheeks blush. It is exciting to have a boyfriend to love. It feels great to love back..

You loved having your buddy in highschool. Do you remember how the two of you met on the bus? I sure remember the day you asked me if you could spend some time with him. You were in love. I could tell from the look in your eyes. We were happy to invite him over to our house and welcome him into our family not too long after the first encounter. He looked very lovable: curly blond hair, a bright smile that showed off perfect teeth. He played in a band. Blues is what made his heart tick. He was crazy about you. Having dinner together, we learned more about what kept him busy and you sure kept him busy. It warmed our hearts to see the two of you together. I still play his first CD in my car, singing along out loud. He could come over as often as he wanted and you liked spending time at his place too.

Our whippets were not used to having other men in our household and they barked at him the first couple of times he came over. He wasn't crazy about pets since they didn't have any in his household. But he learned to appreciate them and his siblings were thrilled once they got their own puppy. 

We knew difficult times were going to come up once he would leave for University. Things would no longer be the same and the obvious daily meet ups would no longer be there. You would have to figure out different ways to keep seeing each other. That ain't easy, I can tell you. Being a student in college or uni is different from being a highschool kid. He had his own student's room in Ghent and you could visit him there. His rhythm of life was a bit different from yours: he's a true night owl, playing games all night with people all over the world. I liked having him around the dining table, listening to his stories and getting involved in his discussions over life. He got to meet your grandparents, aunts and uncles and he survived! 

You spent a wonderful time with your friend Axelle in Italy. He hitchhiked to Portugal with his friends and that sounded so like him, the adventurous guy. I'm sure he had a ball too.
From now on, you have your own student's room. Not in Ghent, like you planned, but in Bruges. A train ride Bruges-Ghent is not too far off and the picture of the two of you got a special place on your new desk.

Both of you will have good memories of the 2.5 years you spent together. You helped each other grow in life and you learned to love. It was good to have someone around who knew all about you. Things will be a bit different now. You will meet new people and you will have fine conversations with other friends. He will continue to play blues on his mouth organ and he will continue his discussions about life with teachers and friends. We will miss him. You will miss him. He will miss you too... 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Unexpected visitors

We were not expecting anyone. Hubby was working in his garden, the kids were chilling and I was trying to get some more laundry done. Our hallway looked a mess, since we had to break open the floor to find a water leak (that we still haven't located by the way). The house was packed with laundry baskets, waiting to get ironed. And then the doorbell rang. Hmhm... hoping it were not Jehovah wanting to do their Save the world talk, I opened the door. In front of me, there were a man and his wife, holding a present and showing me their best smile. Immediately, I recognized them, as the couple I had helped out the previous month. Driving home from dropping off Eva at the railway station, I saw two car wrecks in the middle of the street. People were standing next to the cars in despair, not willing to leave the place. I was worried about them, so I rolled down my window and urged them to find a better spot. I could tell they were not going to, since they were in shock. Just off the road, I parked my car and ran towards them. Other cars were trying to avoid the wrecks and continued their travel despite the accident that had just happened.

A young girl was still sitting in the driver's seat, wearing her fluorescent vest. She looked calm and not injured at first sight. She told me she had run into the other car, crossing the road on her way home from ballet class. I asked her to step out of the car and find a safer haven. She was reluctant to do so, but I could convince her anyway.

An older lady was on the phone, talking to her son. I heard her say: "She ran into our car! it is totally wrecked! please come over here and help us!! I don't know what to do!" Her husband was standing beside her, looking helpless. He looked defeated and lost and I know they had to get out of there, since this bend in the road is known as dangerous. It wasn't the first and it wouldn't be the last accident at this particular spot. I guided them across the road and asked the owner of the tavern, for 3 chairs and some glasses of water. The young girl was in some sort of shock. She didn't speak, she didn't move. She just sat there. The older couple she had hit, was really upset and the lady said she felt pressure on her chest. Another passer-by had stopped and had called an ambulance. I decided to stay with all 3 victims to calm them and keep on eye on them until the police and ambulance arrived.

My oldest daughter called me. She knew I wasn't going to be long, dropping off her sister in Eeklo. It should take no more than half an hour. When she heard the sirens of an ambulance, she thought it was for me, being in some sort of accident. How foolish of me, not to warn her why I was late. I was at the scene of the accident, but I wasn't involved. I did tell her I was going to join the victims to the hospital, for the lady didn't want to be left alone. I had given her a blanket I always keep in my car. She was shivering, probably the result of being in shock. Trying to keep the conversation going (it is important to keep victims talking so they stay awake and aware), I learned more about this older couple. They told me about their son, who worked with the BOB in Ghent. They told me they had recently moved and they told me about their dogs. I kept a close eye on the young girl, as she was still not speaking or moving. In the meantime, the police had arrived and they invited the young girl into their van to be questioned. Another policeman asked the older man for his insurance papers, which were obviously still in the car wreck. I couldn't believe he asked the man to cross the road again to get the papers... That curve is really dangerous and the man was upset and weak. Maybe the policeman could get it out of the car??

Both the young girl and the older lady were transported to the hospital, in the same ambulance. There were no major injuries, although the young girl started complaining about a swollen leg. Sitting next to the driver in the ambulance, I tried to reassure the older lady, who was still very upset..

It was very nice of them, to stop by and say hi. The lady had already given me a phone call, a couple of days after the accident. She and her husband were so glad I had not left them alone. It was the least I could do.. thinking of my grandpa who had died in a car accident so many years ago..

Saturday, September 28, 2013

And she can

I have this friend, who happened to be my French teacher in highschool and my French teacher later on in my thirties. She knows me better than I do. In only 10 min time, she could tell what was bothering me and what made my heart tick. Some 10 years ago, she told me I should be my own boss. She couldn't understand why I wanted to work as an employee, rather than work just for me. I told her I didn't know how to. I had no idea what I could do to be self sufficient. I did know I don't like to work regular 9-5 hours. I like flexibility and my own rules and I don't like the stress of having to drive 100 kms to work every day. She told me that one day, I would remember her words and I would make myself happy becoming an entrepreneur.

I believe that day has come. We have visited an accountant and supplies have been purchased to organize my office in the house. I like my space upstairs and I like to spend time there, working out my agenda and scheduling appointments. There's still my other job, working as a personal assistant, but from now on, I can do what I like to do as a hobby, for a living. Isn't that awesome?

I'm pretty proud of myself, you know. It'll take some organization, but if I manage, it will be a great way to bring in some extra money and still spend quite some time at home. It will give me the opportunity to meet with friends and work at the same time. I no longer need to cook all by myself, since friends are calling to book a cooking session. And above all: I will have new Tupperware containers and tools to work with. It's always a joy to be able to use wonderful items in your kitchen. I'm having a blast trying out new recipes and sharing them with potential customers.

Ready for your first Culinary Tupperware Party at your place? Give me a call or send me an email. I'm looking forward to sitting around your kitchen table, discussing the recipes and completing your guest list. Hosting a party means I can give you free Tupperware, a great time with your friends and a free cooking session included. Sounds appealing huh? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who's the best doctor?

Assume you have been seeing the same old diabetes doctor since you were just a young teen. For a very long time, let's say around 30 years, this same doctor has been your hero, the man who has helped you through many ordeals. He has calmed you down when you were completely lost. He understood the high numbers followed by those creepy lows when you had gone out with your
friends. He reprimanded you for not using your glucometer for 2 weeks, because you were fed up with D. He reassured your parents you were going to be okay, when once again, you were in the hospital with DKA. Your parents invited him to your wedding and he congratulated you with your first child. He helped you figure out the lows and the highs and he checked the blue marks on your thigh as a result of the daily nighttime shot. He reminded you to take your vitamin D and to change your needles as often as possible. And then, he announced he was going to leave the hospital. He wanted other, younger doctors to take over. Your world fell apart. How would you cope without him? Not one other doctor knew all about your lows and highs. This man knew you better than your own parents did? Deep down, you knew this day would come. You weren't ready for it. It wasn't easy for him either...

Then this other doctor showed up. He was experienced too. He had a calm voice and a firm hand but he was not your doctor.. You built a shield around you and you were not prepared to let him in. He talked about some device you had never heard of. He tried to persuade you to alter the settings on your insulin pump. Was he out of his mind??? If your settings weren't okay, wouldn't your own doctor have said so? What do you mean, 180 mg/dl is not the best average blood glucose?

You were heartbroken. You wanted to talk to your own doctor and make him come back. He deserved his retirement, absolutely. But why now? Why someone else that you didn't know?

Things are different now. You have to rely on a different method. A doctor with an opinion of its own. Why does he keep saying it is so important to count carbs? Why does he want you to change what has become your way of life? It's not fair. It's still the same disease, then why change it all?

You texted me to ask about the carb content of this and that. We sat down together, to discuss this new device, called Dexcom G4. You were impressed, to your surprise. Maybe it was time to let go. Just like a mom, who is setting her child free to flap her wings, it was time to let go of the old days and the old ways. You were ready for a new milestone. I heard you followed my advice and you got yourself a new insulin pump, bluetooth included. I'm proud of you. Carb counting can be tricky, but seeing what those carbs do to a body infected by diabetes, is beyond interesting. I have this feeling, that you are beginning to like this new doctor. Maybe he's not the enemy. Maybe he's your next challenge in life. You can do this. You're on your way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


They expect very little of me. All they want, is that I take care of their little girl in the best way possible. I nourish her, tube feed her the medication she needs and cuddle her on the couch, while she takes one of her naps. I've been taking care of Kiddo for 1 year and a half now and there hasn't been one day of hesitation to leave for work. Every other week I don't work on the weekend. I do miss her if it's been a while. Although she doesn't talk, we understand each other. I talk to you and I sing songs for you. I tell you stories and I comb your hair. I change your knickers and hold your pacifier for you.

I feel blessed, for your parents have asked me to work extra hours. About 9 hours extra a month until the end of the year and then 18 hours extra a month from January on. I didn't have to think it over. Another chance to spend time with you and learn from you. You are very special Kiddo. Whenever you cross my mind, I can see your pretty smile and hear your sound of laughter..

Not for males??

When you think of the brand name Tupperware, what is the first thing that crosses your mind? What kind of people do you see, packing food in Tupperware containers? Does your favorite Tupperware container make you smile, when you think of the goodies your mom used to bake you to bring to school?

I can't believe there's one family in my surroundings that doesn't have their share of Tupperware. Most people have several pieces and some even have their own Tupperware cabinet full. I honestly thought my kitchen cabinets were loaded with boxes and appliances. But what I experienced yesterday, was beyond all expectations. I was truly gobsmacked! My fingers were itching and my heart beats were faster than normal. Even faster than when I get a plate full of my favorite sushi. And you know how I love sushi!

I completely forget this kitchen belonged to a man. In fact, it belongs to two men. Two wonderful cooks and two Tupperware geeks. They won't mind me saying that, because it is meant in a very friendly way. You could call them Tuppaholics, but that sounds a bit negative. No negativity in this kitchen. A bright and sunny place, to experience wonderful cooking moments together or with friends. This guy can teach me things. He got bitten by the Tupperbug at a very young age. His mom nodded and confirmed his story. I could tell she was proud of him. I'm proud of him too. This is a great addiction! I can relate to his pride and enthusiasm. Thank you Eric, for having me over. Looking forward to our upcoming culinary party. Spread the word! Tupperware is NOT only for women..

Friday, September 13, 2013

Quality time

That's exactly what it was: grown up quality time. It was meant as a late birthday gift from my Hubby. Our first intention was to plan a city trip abroad, but we changed our mind and decided to spend some special time nearby. A friend of mine had passed on the link of Manoir Ogygia in Poperinge. It was exactly what we were looking for: quiet time, nature, fine dining, relaxation, wellness and each other of course. It was everything we had asked for and more. These are times to meet up again, away from all the hectic times and busy schedules. Time for each other, time for intimacy and bonding (oh please, I said BONDING, not bondage). It was good, not to say it was perfect.

It was good to stroke the crow's feet next to his eyes, for they tell me he's happy and in love. I saw the sparkle in his eyes and the good conversations made us happy. Watching him stretch his broad shoulders, telling me that he's content and proud and that warms my heart. I love him. He's very special to me. We should have more of these get aways. They are worth it...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Am I missing something here?

Last week, your mommy and I were discussing a future visit to the hospital. You needed some special attention and your parents were scheduling an appointment for the week to come. None of us realized that visit to the hospital would be sooner than planned...

We were relaxing upstairs, in the attic that has been designed especially for you. Watching a movie while you were fast asleep in my lap, your formula was dripping down the feeding tubes into your tummy, just the way it's supposed to do. You were not making any noises but the soft sucking sounds of your pacifier. Your finger was holding my index and I was stroking some strands of hair out of your pretty face. That's when I noticed the little stains of milk on my pants. It does happen sometimes, that one of the gates of your PEG is not tightly secured. Nothing wrong with the tubing though. Hmhm... I remembered last weeks conversation with your mommy and immediately I pulled up your shirt to check your PEG. I was not prepared to see what I saw: a big hole in your tummy. There was some blood around the edges. I decided to call your parents right away and bring you downstairs to take care of the wound. In the meantime, I had called your nana, for I didn't want to loose any time. I had no idea whether I had to disinfect the wound, stay away from it, cover it with sterile bandage. I decided to cover the hole with sterile bandage and tape and wait for your parents to come help out. Your nana was there in little less than 6 minutes. She was a bit stunned since this had not happened before. Apparently the little balloon in your tummy had worn out and deflated. That's why it had come out so easily. It was very important to insert a new PEG as soon as possible, for the hole starts to close real fast. That's when mommy and daddy jumped in. Running upstairs to get the spare PEG, the manual was being spread out on the table to find out how a PEG needs to be inserted correctly. None of us had ever done this. A phone call to the hospital, didn't bring any solution, so it was all up to your mommy. She didn't hesitate and inserted the tubing all the way down to your stomach where it's supposed to be. Time to inject 5 ml of water into the tubing to see if the water went in or not. Out of the blue, someone stopped by to drop off a bunch of pancakes. She happens to be a nurse and she happens to be THE nurse who gives you special injections when you are extremely sick. What a gift she decided to stop by today... She confirmed the PEG to be inserted correctly. What a relief...

A couple of phone calls later (hospitals are terrible on weekends), your parents could finally pick you up and have you checked out.

That were some scary moments Princess. I'm glad you're okay. I'm glad your mommy was cool enough to help you. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A bit shook up

As soon as I entered the room, you said: "You have no idea what I've been through... I'm so sore! My whole body hurts. It's horrible!"

I kissed you on your cheeks, careful not to hurt you. Your right eye was black and blue and purple underneath. I guess that's what a fractured eye socket looks like? We were happy to see your eye was still doing its job. It followed every move we made and there was no blood in your eye. I could see from the look on your face that you were truly hurting. Your left shoulder was packed in a special sling, for it is severely broken. You couldn't lift your other arm either, since some tendons were ripped off on that side. Meaning you cannot eat, drink or blow your nose by yourself.

I lifted the sheets and saw your right leg in a cast. He told me your knee was broken and there were some fractures in your shin as well. You told me how you had been standing on your bed, trying to catch a fly, when your foot got stuck in between your bed and the mattress. You fell down, face first, and ended up between the wall and your bed. Your foot was still stuck. I'm so happy you were not home alone. Your husband ran up the stairs as soon as he heard the thump. He tried to roll you over and pull you up, but it was so painful he had to let go. I know you don't like ambulances and hospitals, but there was no other way. An ambulance had to be called and I cannot imagine the pain you must have felt when they carried you down the stairs. Luckily the clinic is like only a 10 min drive, but to you it must have felt like horrible hours.

I took a look at your other leg. That big toe was black and blue and swollen as well. Maybe we should have the doctor take a look at that foot too?
They won't operate until Monday afternoon. I asked them to schedule you early in the morning, for you are a diabetic. They said it wasn't possible, since they were fully booked. But it was no problem, according to the nurse, because you would get a bag of glucose and another one filled with insulin. They would counter each other. I'm not very convinced, since what happened around lunch time. One of the nurses gave you your mealtime bolus of insulin. A little bit later, the kitchen staff came in with your lunch. They put it on the table and left you to it. Why was it to nobody's concern, to make sure you got help? Someone should have fed you, for you cannot lift your arms and bring the food to your mouth? Washing you this morning, the nurse didn't put your hearing aid back into your ear, leaving you behind helpless and deaf. That's why you didn't understand the kitchen staff clearing your lunch. They must have asked why you didn't finish your meal.. you didn't hear the question..
I did have a little conference with the head nurse, making clear that you cannot hear anything without your hearing aid. I also stated out the importance of having your carbs after an insulin shot. She looked a bit shocked but she understood and noted on the chart: needs help feeding and DEAF without hearing aid. Let's hope that will keep them alert. I'm aware of the fact that it is weekend and there's not enough staff present, but to be honest: my auntie was truly hurting and she deserved some respect and sympathy. I guess the nurses got the message, since they were really friendly afterwards. We gave you a fresh night gown to replace the bloodstained one. I rubbed your skin with a brandnew body lotion and refreshed you with a hint of perfume. People never feel well in hospitals and any kind of pampering can help in making you feel better. Then why not do that?

I felt for my uncle.. He looked beaten and lost. He will need someone to take care of him too. They are never apart from each other. Some hard weeks are coming up. I'll visit you as often as I can. That's the least I can do. For you have always been very supportive of me, no matter what trouble I got myself in to.

Get better now, okay? I'll light some candles for you..

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For the very first time

We had no idea, you had been longing to go on a holiday with a friend for such a long time. You have been working hard in school and you didn't skip any classes. Being a responsible daughter and completing chores without us asking, is a great bonus. So it was pretty obvious we decided to give it a shot and let you book your first vacation without your parents. Despite the fact that Egypt was canceled, we did manage to book another destination. You just texted us that you had landed in Italy. A Jetair hostess would be waiting for you and your friend, to bring you to the hotel. It will be late by the time you get there and you won't have the chance to take a good look around, but I can assure you: it will be wonderful!

Your dad, your sister and I took you and Axelle to the airport. It was as exciting for us as it were for the two of you. We scented that same holiday feeling, although we had to leave you behind and head back to the parking lot to go home. I'm sorry to say so, but I am relieved you're not going to Egypt. I'm sure you understand. It's just not that safe for two young and beautiful ladies. I'm more at ease knowing that you're in Italy now. Too bad Ilaria can't come visit you. Bari is at least 400 km off...

I can only say: enjoy, enjoy, enjoy..

Overwhelming feelings

Photo Eva Joos
You had mixed feelings about this new schoolyear getting started. Finally you would have the chance to see more of your friends. Some of them had a job during the holidays (so did you, YAY), so you couldn't see each other that often. Overall, we can say your 2 months vacation were packed with fun activities. The weather was nice, your friends were welcome in our house, you had your boyfriend to hang out with. There were parties to attend and movies to be seen. Life has gone back to normal now, meaning you can no longer sleep in until noon. This year, you no longer have to share the bathroom with your sister, for she's a college student now and her school doesn't start until September 18. I'm sure it's your time now to enjoy that time alone in the morning.

We were anxious to hear about your first day in school. You were a bit sad your friends are no longer in the same class and having lunch together won't happen because your schedule is different from theirs. You keep track of each other using your smartphones, but that is just not the same. I understand your sadness sweet pea.

Maybe we should take a look at your class picture and see if there's someone left in your class to hang out with. You like the 6th graders too, but I hear they can leave school for lunch (and you can't since you're in 5th grade). We'll talk about. All we want for you, is to be happy and have a good time in school. We're proud of who you are.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's going to be a breeze

That's what I thought when I got diagnosed June 12 2002. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it. Period.
NOT! I definitely had to sober up when I realized my efforts didn't always kick in the way I wanted them to. My idea of injecting the amount of insulin prescribed by the doctor, was that I would always have great numbers. What a disappointment it was when that didn't happen. There were lows and way too many highs and it was very difficult to figure out where they came from or what had caused them. I assume diabetics are the only people around to shoot up not to get high... Those highs are very damaging to our body. They affect our nerves and eyes, our kidneys and heart. It is very important to keep those highs to a minimum. I have had my share of high numbers (I'm talking HI as in over 600 mg/dl) in my first years after diagnosis. Back then, I didn't count carbs yet (I had not even heard of carbohydrates) and I didn't have an insulin pump. There wasn't much information for me yet and I felt alone in treating this stupid condition.

It's been 11 years. Things have changed. I have a network around me of people who share this same disease and we help each other whenever we can. We get advised and opinions are being shared. It's good to have peers within reach to talk things over. Making the transfer from injecting insulin to using an insulin pump, has been a major improvement in my diabetes treatment. The first years were hectic and more difficult, for back then I did not yet have the support I have nowadays. Learning how to count carbs was another big step in moving on and getting better HbA1c's. But still, 8.5% was the lowest number I could achieve. I wanted that number to be below 8% but I couldn't find the way.

For 3 years now, my numbers haven't been higher than 7.8%. I recently started using Dexcom G4 CGM and my latest A1c was 6.4%!! I'm so proud of where I am now! I'm convinced that number will even get lower. I'm not using that much insulin any more and my insulin resistance has gotten so much better.
The cost of this device is certainly more than worth it. It will help reduce the chance of complications in later life. Trust me, I don't want to die at 50 any more. I plan on living way longer now.

Last night was a hard one. Three lows in a row, that I solved with real coke and scoops of candy. My Dexie woke me up every single time. I would have slept through those lows if it weren't for my special helper. It's another milestone in my diabetes career. And yes, I'm very excited about that...