Tuesday, January 31, 2012

T1 Tuesdays: Illness and the Type 1 Diabetic

Last week we had a stomach virus slither it's way quietly through our house.
It was selective in who it chose to take down, but was mild thankfully enough.
It did not bring with it a fever or aches or diarrhea, nor did it strike in the dead of the night strangling it's victims in the grip of death.
It would begin simply near the break of dawn, cause a couple trips to the bathroom, and then suspend itself in less than 24 hours.
THAT, my friends, I can handle.
It's what happened to our family on this week exactly one year ago that I cringe with fear to remember and pray never returns.
You can read about that nightmare here. 

Anyway, one of the victims of this latest bout was our Type 1 Diabetic.
I always take for granted what my body just does on it's own when I'm not feeling well.
But it's different when you're sick and one of your organs is completely shut down.
When Ashlyn gets sick, an entirely different monster takes over.
It's called "ketones."
You can google the term "ketoacidosis" and get a plethora of information on what happens inside her body.
For the laymen though, it means that her body starts using the fat for energy instead of converting glucose to energy.
It results in tremendous stomach pain and usually vomiting for her.
That results in an inability to keep fluid down, so there is a build-up of ketones in her system.
It makes her feel worse.
When her ketones measure "large" {we have ketone strips that she dips in her urine for this reading}we have to give her 20% of her total amount of insulin intake for the entire day.
For example, if we add up all the insulin she takes in a day {humalog and lantus at all meals and bedtime}and the total is 73 units {for both insulins} then we give her 20% of that which would be 14.6 units.
The tricky part with that is how high her blood sugar levels are at that moment.
If she is over 250, we don't worry too much about her blood sugar dropping too low.
But this last weekend, she would have large ketones but her blood sugars would be in normal ranges.
We still have to give her that large dose of humalog to bring down the ketones, but she also has to take in some carbs so her blood sugar doesn't plummet.
That was the balancing act we were playing all weekend.
High ketones.....vomiting....normal blood sugars.....large dose of insulin.....sips of regular sprite {instead of diet}.....more vomiting.....moderate ketones.....feeling better.....low blood sugar....more sprite.....more vomiting.....and on and on.
She pricked her fingers for blood sugar testing at least 10 times on Saturday.
Never complained.
Not once.
She's my hero.
It did seem to take her a little longer to get back to feeling 100%, but then we declared her officially well yesterday mid-morning....so it wasn't bad overall.....
compared to LAST year......eeeeeek!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

First birthday of the year!!

Last Thursday, January 19, 2012, we celebrated the first birthday in our family of this year.
Our youngest turned 4!!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe: Moroccan Vegetarian Stew

In keeping with the adventures of trying different ethnic flavors, I knew I had to try this recipe when I found it.
It did not disappoint either.
It is very fragrant and just looked so beautiful with all it's colors blending together in the pan.
Another thing I've found about experimenting with plant-based dishes is that using lots of bright colors makes the dishes so aesthetically pleasing that it just invites you to try it.
The recipe calls for potatoes, but I had some extra sweet potatoes laying around so I just used those.
That added another burst of color and I think it gave it more flavor.
Next time I'm going to add a bit more pink salt to really enhance the flavors.
Serve it over steaming hot brown basmati rice with a flavorful salad and you've got a fabulous meal!!
Find the recipe here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe: Cuban Black Beans

Let me just say at the outset that this is bar none....one of THE best recipes I've come across in YEARS!
One of my "resolutions" for 2012 was to experiment with more plant-based recipes to expand my repertoire of dishes for our lunch and dinner meals.
When switching from processed food with lots of animal products in the mix, you really need to present your family with lots of different color and flavor choices so they don't get bored too easily.
I don't want them feeling deprived of all their old favorites, so I would like for them to get to try something new as often as I can find something!!

So when I found this recipe.....I knew I had to try it.
It looked really good to me.
And I wasn't disappointed.
It is so fragrant and delicious!!
The very first day I made this, my husband walked in the door from work, practically ran into the kitchen and said,  "Whoa!!  What smells so GOOD?!?"
After he actually tasted it....he told me {jokingly, of course} that if I didn't put this recipe on our regular rotation that he would divorce me!!
I have really enjoyed trying flavors that come from other ethnicities.
I'm learning that thinking outside my "comfort zone" of cooking has broadened my appreciation of other cultures and their food choices!!
We love this dish served with or over brown basmati rice with fresh sliced tomatoes or a salad!!
Find this amazing recipe........here.

**As a side note....I substituted {2-3} 15 oz. cans of black beans for the dry beans.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

{You CAN} Teach Your Child Thursdays!

After homeschooling for a number of years now, I've finally started to see a pattern emerge.
In August/September, schoolwork is new, and fun, and exciting.

By December, we're all into a pretty good routine, but definitely ready for a nice long winter break.
After the holidays are over and we slide back into our routines, sometimes we're dealing with major cabin fever because of the wintry weather, and often are dealing with sickness.

By end of January/February, we start to feel like our routines are cumbersome, and the children get uncooperative and lose interest.
It's hard to want to stay with everything when the end of our school year seems so far away, yet we still have so much to do!!
I recently found an article that was really practical and helpful in combating those difficult stages of the year:

I completely agree that you need to be prepared and organized.
I also am a huge fan of the workbox system. 
We use it in our homeschooling, and it has revolutionized our home!!
I also agree that making quiet time for yourself is a must!!
I get up earlier now than I ever did before because it's the only time I can have quiet time to focus
on the Lord and His Word for more than 5 minute spurts!!
It gets my day started much gentler and more grounded, and reminds me right from the start that God is bigger than anything I may face that day!!
I am also a huge fan of an organized way to make your grocery lists and meal plans so you don't have to be away from the home any more than absolutely necessary!
I would love to go grocery shopping twice a month, but we lack the storage space for all we need.
So, for the moment, I shop once a week!
But that's it.
No running to the store everyday.
But you have to know in advance what you are preparing for meals this weekend and next week so you have everything on hand.
Making a menu for all 3 meals a week in advance {at least} is super helpful, and cuts down on the amount of time you need to be spending in the kitchen as well!!
Just a few simple tips for simplifying our homes that are schools as well!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

T1 Tuesdays: Dexcom Dilemma and a Celiac Screen

At the outset I need to be honest and say that this will probably be a long post.
Can you bear with me?
I promise to try to give you the Reader's Digest version.
Grab a cup of coffee.

I certainly don't want to sound like I'm complaining here.
But I do feel that it's important in this venue with the audience I have to be honest.
It's really hard raising a child.
It's really, really hard raising a child with Type 1 Diabetes.
They go through so much, become so resilient that they are your heroes!
You want the very best for them because it's ultimately impacting their health decades from now.
I want to chronicle this journey of living with this disease so my daughter has a record of it,
and to encourage others who may have just received this diagnosis for their child.....
or even my own children who may one day raise a Type 1 Diabetic.

With all that being said.....here's what happened last week.
Back in June of 2011, our insurance changed.
With it came a brand new deductible of $2000 for each person in our family,
along with our prescriptions quadrupling in cost.

In July, Ashlyn went to summer church camp without a parent along.
I was nervous about this because of all the variables that go along with
a Type 1 Diabetic during camp week.
She in fact had a frightening experience that nearly landed her in the ER,
and that basically resulted in a "chewing out" by our endocrinologist.
When she got home, I immediately researched continuous glucose monitors....
particularly the Dexcom 7.
I won't go in to the wonders of this device, but it is LIFE-SAVING.
Pure and simple.
It will alarm when your blood sugars go either too low or too high,
as well as giving you a continuous reading of your blood sugar every 5 minutes in graph form.
It's a miracle.
I wanted one for Ashlyn!!
But we couldn't get it.
Basically it revolved around that $2000 deductible.
You can read about that situation here.

After learning about all of this and knowing our situation, a family member very generously and very sacrificially and very joyfully gifted that money to us so we could get her into this amazing technology.

See pictures here.

We ended up with three months of sensors, and by the end of the 3 months we were
ready for a little break.
We loved this device, but we had yet a little bit of money to pay to reach our $2000 deductible,
so our sensors would cost us at least $280.
Once we reached that deductible, the rest of the 90 day supply would fall under the $75/month fee.
We didn't have that money on hand with the holidays coming up and our flexible medical account being nearly drained for the year.
So I decided that we would figure into our Medical Flexible Spending Account for 2012 the extra money we needed to cover the remaining amount for the deductible,
as well as a year's worth of paying the $75/month for these sensors.
Last week I called Dexcom to get the order going.

Imagine my horror.....the HORROR....
when the Dexcom representative called me and reported to me that our insurance deductible had
reset on January 1, 2012!!!
We have to pay yet another $2000 before we can get those sensors covered!

I about passed out...right then and there.
I could. NOT. believe what I was hearing.
How could this happen??
Why wasn't I told that deductible's run calendar year to calendar year?!?!

Apparently everyone else in the world knows this......
WHY didn't ANYONE mention it to me before now?!?!

Well, that was it.
I told the representative that there was no point in wasting her time any further.
We simply can't afford that.
If we don't pay the deductible....it's $280.
Basically a car payment.
And for the record......we don't carry car payments!!!

So there you have it.....we can't use this anymore.
I tried calling the insurance to see what I needed to do to appeal this.
She told me not to bother.
Appeals only apply to claims that would be denied for some reason.
Our claim for the Dexcom IS covered.......AFTER we pay the deductible.

I tried callling Dexcom to see if they could help.
Don't have anything in place to help with hardships or anything because they are a non-profit company that's not big enough to offer assistance in any way.

I tried Medicaid several months ago.
Don't go there with me.
Let me just say it was a nightmare and we ended up getting shuffled over to CHIP {with real cards and everything} which we can't use anyway because we already have private insurance.

I've tried all the other places on line I've been pointed to and we fall into all the loopholes.....
we make too much income {just barely over the maximum allowed for this month},
or we have private insurance.

But you know what?
When I made that last call to the Dexcom company, and I got a disappointing answer....I just had peace.

Like the door closed....I don't have to fight this anymore....I'm done spending hours on the phone and internet.....that's just it.
God has a plan here.
There is a purpose for this.

Yesterday was Ashlyn's quarterly visit with her endocrinologist.
I was dreading it like a parent who knows their child is struggling in school,
and is headed to a parent-teacher conference.
I just knew we would have to talk about a bad grade {i.e. A1c}.
And I was right.
Ashlyn's A1c is at an all-time high now of 8.9%.

We were just getting it down from 8.5% to 8.3% with the Dexcom  {sigh}.
Now with December and it's craziness and letting routines slide....
we've lost control.
It doesn't matter what we do or don't eat or how much we check or how much insulin she gets.....
she's always high.
Way high.
She's currently taking 18 units of Lantus in the morning as well as at bedtime {36 units total}.
Her carb ratios are 1:5 breakfast, 1:4 lunch, and 1:3 dinner.
Our endo. was very gracious with us, but obviously concerned about why her numbers are so consistently high as well as having no real pattern to them.
It's hard to adjust insulin levels when there's no trend.
So we have to climb back into the prison of set carb amounts for each meal (tighter carb control),
and he wants her to be screened for Celiac disease.
I was a little surprised that he mentioned that since she has no symptoms at all.
He said that sometime Celiac shows up because their blood glucose levels get all wacky even with lots of insulin and could be the underlying cause.
He mentioned insulin resistance, but wants to pinpoint why right now.

Sometimes it's easy to post about bright and sunny things.
Some days, I just have to lay it out as it is.
I'm just so thankful to know Who is in control here.
I'm relying on this verse of scripture that I've chosen for Ashlyn as the verse I pray for her:

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith the Lord,
thoughts of peace,
and not of evil,
to give you an expected end."
Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe!! Favorite bean soup...

When I think of bean soup, I always think back to my childhood and the bean soup my mom used to make.
It had white beans and ham in it, and on a cold, snowy afternoon this makes your house smell ah-MAZING while it cooks on the stove.
I have tried to reproduce this dish with HER recipe, mind you, but it NEVER turned out right.
I had all but given up hope of having this wonderful homemade soup again until......
I found the best recipe e. ver!  EVER!

Since we're trying to stick to a plant-based diet as much as we can, this recipe was a great fit.
I just left out the ham, and splashed in some bottled liquid smoke instead (I used Colgin's Natural Mesquite)!
I also used an organic vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth, and "Better Than Bouillon" chicken base instead of chicken bouillon granules.
It is so delicious, it knocked our socks off!!

I found the recipe in my Taste of Home magazine, but you can find it here.

As a disclaimer, only 2 or 3 of my children will eat this delicious soup. 
But these are also the same children that refuse to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly.
Just so you know.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Fundays: Why we do what we do

One thing that has become such a hit at our house is our implementing a little thing we call "Monday Funday."
It started because after the crazy busyness of every. single. weekend, not only was I exhausted and not prepared  for a full day of schooling on Monday, but my children are very tired too.  Sunday is just plain hard.  Getting 8 people out the door for a half hour ride to church TWICE every Sunday, and then needing to arrive at said destination in less-than-grumpy moods is taxing.  Plus getting meals around is tough.  We start everything on Saturday, and it's planned down to the minute, but stuff STILL happens, and we still run late, and we're so tired Sunday evening.  Not to mention what a disaster the house is and all the laundry piled up on Monday morning.

So, I decided that we would institute "Monday Funday."  Little to no school work, sleeping in, cleaning up the house, catching our breath......and oh, yeah.......a field trip!!  You see, my husband has his only day off on Monday, so we like to have some quality fun family time together.  We need some time together where there isn't a strict time limit, just come-as-you-are relaxation and laughter.  I think especially important when you are trying to raise children with ADHD.  You see, these kids are CONSTANTLY being corrected.  They have to work SO hard to get anything right the first time, and we as parents find ourselves quick to load up the correction and discipline, and short on praise and positive motivation.  This one-day a week gives us all a chance to just be with each other without a lot of expectations and the children get to see us as parents with our hair down and having fun!!  I really believe it has been hugely valuable in improving our relationship with these children we've been loaned for awhile!

We're slowly sliding back into our regular routine today, and I've got some fun ideas on the calendar for this spring's round-up of "Monday Fundays."  Today, I did meet with each of my students to review where we are right now and where we need to go to finish up this year well.  I also asked them some of the places they wanted to go for their fields trips.  Here are some of the things I'm looking at for this semester:

Lunch at CiCi's Pizza
Lunch at McDonald's
{for a nature walk}
{since we have a membership!!}
Trips to local parks

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Where there is no vision..."

"Feel within deep latent urges to get things done,
to be rising above this slough of unconscious mediocrity that seems to characterize my days.
Father, if these strong currents be flesh driven,
I pray thee staunch and slay them,
but if sublimated, channeled into courses which will do Thy service,
then intensify them,
mobilize them,
give them direction, 
for I long--Thou knowest how earnestly--
that the bride of Thine own dear Son be made perfect and entire in my day.
Yea, Lord, if it cost me my bride in this life,
let me have They grace and power to bring to the Lamb the reward of His sufferings."

~~ 21 year old Jim Elliot
December 22, 1948
7 years before his slaughter on the mission field at the hand of the savages he committed to sharing the gospel with

This has been a wonderful first week of this new year!!
I was looking back at our first week of last year and was reminded that we were in the midst of a horrible stomach virus.
I'm oh, so grateful, to not be dealing with that!
You can read about it here.
We are still on Winter Break.....yep, no school.
Can I just say that I think that has been the smartest decision I've made concerning our homeschooling to date.
THREE weeks of winter break...no school.
There is usually no way that I am ready to jump back in to being strangled by the clock and all the things that have to be done everyday just to stay on track on the Monday after 2 weeks of reveling and celebration and the weekend with church and Christmas and New Year's Day!!!
We have enjoyed leisurely putting away the Christmas tree and the lights,
and getting the laundry caught up, and some cleaning done.
My husband and I have updated our yearly budget this week and have a plan!!
I climbed under both sets of bunkbeds in my girls' room and hauled out unbelievable things!!
I sat down with two of my children and we talked through some goals for projects we want to complete this spring toward earning some badges in our Master Club program at church on Wednesday nights. 
I've tried a couple new plant-based recipes from a folder of ideas I put together when looking through magazines, pulling out what I would actually use and tossing the magazine after it had been pilfered.
I've filled in our new calendar with all the appointments and special dates we need to remember.
I've pulled off all the Christmas pictures from last year {2010} that are on my frig., and put up all the fresh, new pictures from this past Christmas{2011}.
I've had time to knead through some ideas for a better system of making my weekly grocery lists, and maybe a daily to-do list to give me more focus during my days.

But most importantly,
I've been thinking about some goals for this year.
And a plan to make those goals a reality.

First, I did eventually finish memorizing the entire book of Philippians in 2011.
I loved doing that and it was fairly easy to work on during my hour long walks listening to the scriptures on my smart phone.
I'm pondering which book to work on this year.
It may take me longer than a year.
Maybe Galatians, maybe Ruth....or ESTHER!
For more on the critical need for scripture memorization in our lives....watch here.
I've also been thinking about naming this year.
To give it more clarity and focus for what I want to study and live out more authentically.
Last year, 2011, was "The Year of Grace."
I may need to do that one over some time.
But because of this marvelous freedom we have in Christ, because of His great love and mercy and forgiveness, upon our salvation, our accepting His free gift.....
it naturally causes me to want to draw nearer to Him.....to worship.....adore.
I want to know more about what true, authentic worship means.
Is all worship offered with sincerity and reverence acceptable to Him?
I want to explore how my own worship may be falling short or if it is quite anemic.
What more can I offer Him?
These are things I want to focus on studying and listening for.
So I'm naming 2012 my "Year of Worship."
For more on this idea, see here and here.

On a health note, by God's grace alone, I've been able to maintain the weight loss I reached in 2010.  
My goal at the beginning of last year was to get to the bottom of some hitches I was having with my thyroid levels.
Thankfully, I found a tremendous amount of relief from adding natural progesterone cream, completely ditching all my hygiene products that I learned are full of harmful chemicals and xenoestrogens, and my husband and I have determined to journey to a more plant-based diet.
We've gone dairy-free, and virtually left animal products behind.
It hasn't been easy with the children and we're still not perfect in our nutrition,
but we're progressing.
Moving forward in the journey to better health.
As a result, my endocrinologist lowered my dose of levothyroxine at my last visit.
I've had to be off all my allergy meds for the last month, and so far no infections and not a whole lot of itching/sneezing/congestion.
At least I can get by with minimal amounts of over-the-counter allergy meds.
We are saving to purchase a juicer, which we found to be very beneficial to us this last fall when my husband borrowed a Breville and lost 25 pounds in 15 days of strict juicing.
I even lost 7 more pounds in the 5 days I joined him!!!

Lots of things on the bucket list this year, and I'm very excited.
Excited to see what the Lord has in store for us, and to offer thanks for it all!!