Type 2 Diabetes – A Journey

About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. My blood sugar levels were just over the limit but I was able to completely manage it by controlling my diet. Over the next fifteen years, my sugar levels were tested yearly and they were always in the normal range.

Canadian and American numbers differ and I couldn’t tell you why. For example over those years my levels were in the range of 5.5, which translates to 100 on the American scale. This would be the normal area.

About six months ago I had my blood tested and my doctor told me to watch my sugar intake because I was getting near the 7.0 range (126 American) which indicates pre-diabetes.

Three months ago, I had new tests and my level was 7.7 (About 140 American). This would indicate that I was diabetic. But the doctor gave me six weeks to improve this.

I was already going to the gym, so I immediately started to watch every bite that passed my lips and lost 12 pounds. I had another glucose test as well as an AC1 test. The blood glucose test indicates the fasting blood sugar levels. The AC1 test is to determine the amount of sticky glucose that has been coating your hemoglobin cells over the previous three months.

I was eager to visit the doctor after the six weeks were up. I expected her to tell me that I had been successful at lowering the numbers into the normal range. But, no, she told me that my fasting glucose level was worse, 8.4 (155), and my AC1 test showed a level of 7.7 (140). Between us, we decided that I would have to go on Metformin, a diabetes drug that should help me back to the normal range. I was prescribed two pills a day.

One side-effect of the Metformin is stomach upset so my pharmacist told me to begin with half a pill twice a day. I have had several days with a lot of pain but I think I am getting used to the medication.

Dr. O. assures me that I CAN eventually get off the pills. She knows people who have done it. But it is very difficult.

In Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas does not produce enough (or any) insulin, so you have to take insulin, almost always by injection. There are insulin pumps which many people use as well. I have a brother who hasmuch  this type of diabetes and has been living with it since he was 17. (He is now 75.)

With Type 2 Diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin but the cells that need that insulin become resistant to it. Hence, you have too much insulin AND your body is not able to use it. This can cause many problems, with widely varying sugar levels.

There are many secondary effects of having uncontrolled Diabetes, which I won’t go into at this time.

Dr. O. has not given me a prescription for self-testing – glucose monitor, lancets, test strips, but it is probable that I will have to do this soon. In mid-August I have appointments with a NURSE specializing in diabetes as well as with a NUTRITIONIST.

I have a standing order for blood tests every three months to monitor my fasting glucose levels as well as for an AC1 test.

My next tests are in September. I hope to be able to report on progress in both these areas. I would like both my AC1 level and my fasting glucose level to be approaching 7.0 (126).

I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I have no medical training. This blog post is not meant to give advice, merely to be a record of my progress in The Sugar Wars. It is possible that some of the facts and numbers are not quite accurate. If you notice any errors, please let me know and I will try to correct them asap!

Thank you for reading this post and for allowing me to share my Journey with you. – Maureen

Canada Day in Ottawa – 2015

Today is Canada’s 148th birthday!

It's a happy day coast to coast to coast.

My niece's two little girls greet Canada Day.

My niece’s two little girls greet Canada Day.

My grandson, Owen, watching the Prime Minister and the Governor General arrive on Parliament Hill.

My grandson, Owen, watching the Prime Minister and the Governor General arrive on Parliament Hill.

At The War Memorial, where a soldier was killed in October, the heavens opened up.

At The War Memorial, where a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was killed in October. It started raining but they didn’t let it stop them!

The free bus was full of people dressed in red and white.

The free bus was full of people dressed in red and white.

My granddaughter, Brynn, on Parliament Hill to watch the show.

My granddaughter, Brynn, on Parliament Hill to watch the show.

The “Old Girl” went for a Canada Day walk.

The clouds were rolling in.

The cheerful driver asked if I wanted a photo.

My daughter and her family took the free bus to the Parliament Buildings.

Have a very happy day. Fireworks tonight!

Thanks for reading and have a great day everyone!

Walk Like a Ballerina

Winter came late to Ottawa this year. December was mostly mild with very little snow.

Christmas Day was well above zero and it was raining. The grass was still green, for Pete’s sake!

But this past Sunday, January 4, we had:

  1. Snow
  2. Freezing rain
  3. Rain

All in one day! It was Nova Scotia weather in Ontario!

The shovelling was bad, my husband told me. As a result of all that shovelling, the freezing rain fell on a clean driveway which means that it is a solid sheet of ice. So it was salted.  But all the salt mines of Tanzania don’t produce enough salt to melt the ice that covered everything.

The trees and shrubs were ice coated and glistening in the sunlight which followed the “weather bomb”. It is just so pretty!


The temperature dropped from +8 C (45F) on Christmas Day to -25C (-13F) yesterday.

So now, when I venture out of the house, I have to walk like a ballerina.

You know. The teeny tiny steps, like Margot Fontaine dancing in Swan Lake. The arms outstretched and flapping in the air, like a bird ready for take-off. I mince my way down the driveway and do the ballet dance all the way to the bus stop.

I HAVE to get to Tim Horton’s to have a cup of steeped tea with my friend, Joan.

I feel as if an audience cheered as I entered the coffee shop. But I think some of them were hoping I’d fall.

I just hope I remember the dance steps for the trip home.

Happy New Year to all of you. May you be blessed with health and happiness. – Maureen

Getting to 30

In a few weeks I’ll be 70 years old.

My last post was called, “Being 20″.  It was 1965. I became a teacher that year, went to Alberta for my first teaching assignment, met my future husband, and became engaged before the end of the year.

  • 1966 – I got married, joined CUSO (a volunteer organization), and went to Zambia. I taught Math to High School students.
  • 1967 – I gave birth to my first daughter, Michelle. I wrote a Math text-book for adult literacy during my pregnancy.
  • 1968 – We returned to Canada and lived in Montreal where my husband was working. It was a case of reverse culture shock to be in Canada again.
  • 1969 – I gave birth to my second daughter, Lindiwe.
  • 1970 – I gave birth to my third daughter, Carla.
  • 1971 – We moved to Ottawa. I took my first art class, working on oils.
  • 1972 – Looked after babies. Cooked, cleaned, sewed, knitted, cooked, cleaned.
  • 1973 – More of the same.
  • 1974 – We moved back to Montreal. Two weeks later I gave birth to my fourth daughter, Monica.
  • 1975 – I turned 30.

This was, perhaps, my busiest decade. Five of those years were spent with another human being attached to my body in one way or another. Pregnant or breastfeeding. I loved (and still love) being a mother but that was difficult. However, it had always been my plan to have my children in my twenties and “bring them up” in my thirties and forties. And that’s what I did. Successfully.

Getting to 30 was not always an easy road. We had challenges along the way, but we persevered and with the help of God, we entered our thirties stronger and more committed to each other and our family than ever.

So, good times. Good times!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day. – Maureen



Being 20

In early February, 2015, I will be turning 70.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this milestone. I’m pretty sure 70 is not considered young or even middle-aged by anyone under, well, 70!

I’ve been living the senior, retired life for a few years now and it’s been pretty good. Free bus Wednesdays, discounts once a month at local drugstores (and you’ve got to believe we frequent pharmacies a lot these days), special status on VIA rail, and senior coffees at various cafes and bistros.

But my mind has been turning back to my childhood, my youth, and my middle years.


I turned 20. I was finally out of my teen-aged years but not quite, according to the law of the land in those days, an adult.

  • I was in my fourth year at university, studying arts and education.
  • I still lived at home with most of my brothers and sisters, and I used to run up the hill every day in my effort to get to class on time. Successful most of the time.
  • On weekends and in the summer, I had to be home by 10:30, and I was!
  • In May, I graduated with an education degree.
  • I was hired, by letter, to teach elementary school in Edmonton, Alberta, about 3,000 km (2,000 m) from my home in Nova Scotia.
  • I travelled by plane for the first time. Halifax – Edmonton.
  • I started teaching Grade 1.
  • I met my husband-to-be on September 19.
  • At Christmas time we drove from Edmonton to Fort Smith, NWT, to spend Christmas with John’s family.
  • On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) John and I decided to get married and go to Zambia, in Africa, to work as volunteers. (Our next anniversary will be our 49th.)

There were many changes in my life the year I was 20. I left home, travelled, and fell in love.

What could be more exciting than that?

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day.

– Maureen

Farewell to Nova Scotia

I recently returned from a visit to Nova Scotia with my two youngest daughters.


We flew on Porter Airlines and we loved it. The plane was small, a Bombardier Dash-8 Q-400 which is a turbo-prop. Everyone associated with the airline was friendly and helpful. They have a neat service called Sky Check. You bring your carry-on bag to the door of the plane, someone takes it from you, gives you an ID stub and returns it to you as you get off the plane. No more endless waiting at the carousel to pick up your bags.


We arrived in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia and went to pick up our rental car from Enterprise, for the drive to Antigonish. The very nice young man offered us a choice of vehicles. We could have a Nissan Sentra, or…


Our weekend ride. A white Mustang convertible!

Our weekend ride. A white Mustang convertible!


Yes, we chose the Mustang! We were going back in style!


Monica driving the Mustang.

Monica driving the Mustang.


Carla in the front passenger seat.

Carla in the front passenger seat.


Yes, that means I was in the back but the ride was totally enjoyable.


We got to Antigonish after a wonderful seafood mean at The Dock Pub in New Glasgow.  We took a ride down Main Street which has changed somewhat from the 1960s. The buildings were basically the same but new modern trendy restaurants and gift shops were scattered among them.


One of the touristy stores on Main Street.

One of the touristy stores on Main Street.


The Made in Nova Scotia Store was a delight to browse in. There was jewellery made with local sea glass as well as a myriad of tartan items. After all, Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.


The next day we went to a few of the local beaches, where we lolled in the sand. Mahoney’s Beach was one of my old hang-outs.


Toes on the beach.

Toes on the beach.


We then drove along the Sunrise Trail and stopped at Cape George Lighthouse where we were lucky enough to spot whales playing in St. George’s Bay.


Whale watching.

Whale watching.




We stopped at Cribbon’s Point which is a beautiful fishing village.


Cribbon's Point.

Cribbon’s Point.


We also travelled to Cape Breton Island which is connected to mainland NS by the Canso Causeway. We stopped at a gorgeous sandy beach located in the small town of Port Hood. Later on, we drove to Mabou, CB, where I had spent a year at boarding school. This part of the trip was very emotional for me.


Carla and Monica couldn’t believe how peaceful it was there.


The church at Mabou, Cape Breton.

The church at Mabou, Cape Breton.


The convent at Mabou where I lived with 90 girls during my last year of high school.


St. Joseph's Convent, now a Retreat Centre.

St. Joseph’s Convent, now a Retreat Centre.


We had a tour of the building where I lived 54 years ago. It was basically the same and I admit I had tears when I thought of the happy times spent there. A lovely nun, Sister Catherine, gave us a tour of the building and I took a photo of the chapel, where I was usually the first one at Mass each morning. I know that being at Mabou with the wonderful sisters there strengthened my faith. That has stayed with me my whole life.


The chapel at Mabou.

The chapel at Mabou.


I told you Antigonish is a Scottish town, didn’t I? Here is my youngest daughter in our motel, The Claymore.


Monica with her new friend!

Monica with her new friend!


We visited The Wheel Restaurant where I hung out during my last two years at St.F.X. University in Antigonish. We had lunch at The Moonlight Restaurant which hasn’t changed one iota since 1965. We stopped at Arisaig Beach to see the unusual geology of that area. We took a long walk around Antigonish Landing, a protected wetlands area. We drove and walked on all the little back streets of the town that helped form me. We visited the Church, St. Ninian’s, and met some old friends there.


Brierly Brook, which runs through the centre of twon.

Brierly Brook, which runs through the centre of town.


What a trip! What a lot of new memories of Nova Scotia I have to think about on the long winter nights here in Ottawa.


We packed this whole experience into one long weekend!


I hope you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane. I think we should all do this, at least in our hearts.


Go visit Nova Scotia some day. Its beautiful scenery and its friendly residents will steal your heart.


Have a great day and remember to leave a comment.










Going Home

I’m going home!


“There by the sea it stands,

The home that sheltered all my dreams…”

(From a poem, written by my father, George Brasset.)


I was born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

When I was 20, I left my seaside home and over the decades that followed, I fulfilled many of the dreams that were nurtured there. I explored the world, living in Africa, the US, and nearly every province in Canada. I married and had four wonderful daughters who in turn gave us eight amazing grandchildren.

On my next birthday, I will be 70 and I am thrilled to say I am going back to NS for a visit. I am being accompanied on this short trip by my two youngest daughters, Carla, and Monica.

My heart is full as I contemplate seeing the home where I used to live, and visiting the many beaches where I spent so many happy days in the summers.

I am looking forward to showing my daughters where I went to school, where I went to university (St. F.X.) and the beautiful St. Ninian’s cathedral where I was baptized, confirmed, and was married.

I want to show them the streets where my friends and cousins lived and the store where my father worked.

They say this trip is for me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Even if it rains every day that we are there, I don’t mind.

Because I am going home!!!


Thank you for reading and have a fabulous day. – Maureen


48th Anniversary

Today is our forty-eighth wedding anniversary.

I met my husband-to-be in September, 1965, in Edmonton Alberta. I had just graduated from university and John was in his 4th year of engineering. We were 20 years old.

That December, we drove to his family’s home in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and we decided to get married. In the next few months, John graduated with his engineering degree and I finished my first year teaching. We also both turned 21.

We travelled to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where we were married on July 16.

Three days later, we left for Zambia, East Africa, where we would work as volunteers for the next few years. Our first daughter, Michelle was born there. Lindi, Carla, and Monica were born over the next few years. We lived in:

  • Antigonish, Nova Scotia
  • Fort Smith, NWT
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Lusaka, Zambia
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Oshawa, Ontario
  • Ottawa, Ontario

We have five grandsons and three granddaughters. We are retired and very happy.


July 16, 1966.

July 16, 1966.


Thank you for reading. – Maureen


Tales from an ESL Classroom – Part 1

It was the funniest of times; it was the saddest of times.

I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The school I was working at was a language school, where most of the students were adult refugees.

My first class was a group of fifteen men and women from Poland. They were a great group who were eager to learn all they could about Canada.

The course lasted 20 weeks and in that time we were usually able to bring the students from having no knowledge of English to knowing enough of the language to get an entry-level job. We started with the alphabet and progressed to single words and sentences. Near the end of the course we started writing simple sentences. Grammar was a bit of a problem, though, and some students were never able to quite get the hang of it. And idioms, like “get the hang of it” were a real problem for most.

During one morning’s lesson, I asked a man, “How are you today?”  He answered, “Today is Wednesday.”

Sometimes I would write words or phrases on the chalkboard and the students were supposed to write a simple sentence, using the correct verb tense.

  • “every day” – The sentence I got from one man, “Every day I put two sandwiches in my briefs.” prompted a quick lesson on the difference between “briefs” and “briefcase”.
  • “bigger than” – This man must have been using a dictionary, probably a British one, when he wrote, “My cock is bigger than your chicken.” This time the teacher was blushing more than the students!

Occasionally, a student would miss a class and I got some pretty interesting “sick” notes.

One started, “My darling Maureen…” and ended “I love you, darling.”

We worked hard five hours a day, five days a week, and by Friday afternoon we were exhausted.  Sometimes we played BINGO, which helped them with their numbers but also gave the “caller” a chance to practice speaking.

One day my teen-aged daughter and her friend came for a quick visit and two men stood up and said, “We are single.”

The students, men and women, made wonderful progress and one of the women even named her new daughter after my daughter, Monica.

I heard over the years that they all got jobs, had families, and became Canadian citizens. I grew to admire and respect these people so much and they will always be in my heart.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.







Just Puttering Around

I woke up to a sunny morning today and decided it was a great idea to just putter around.


put – ter

verb (North American)

to occupy oneself in a pleasant manner, doing a number of small tasks, or not concentrating on anything in particular.


The first thing I did today was pour myself a cup of tea. I am on my third “cuppa” as I write this.


A nice cup of tea, in the mug my friend, author Jo Hiestand sent me.

A nice cup of tea, in the mug my friend, author Jo Hiestand sent me.


Then I read today’s Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

  • Ontario is having an election on June 12.  Six weeks of campaigning! Speeches and debates and mud-slinging!
  • 90 couples renewed their wedding vows at church yesterday.
  • University of Ottawa has pioneered a new treatment for heart valves.
  • The Toronto Raptors lost game 7 in basketball.
  • The Ukraine (a mess).
The Ottawa Citizen, May 5, 2014.

The Ottawa Citizen, May 5, 2014.


It was time for breakfast. A second cup of tea with scrambled eggs and shredded zucchini.





While eating I got the daily crossword puzzle completed.


An easy one. They get more difficult as the week goes on.

An easy one. They get more difficult as the week goes on.


I worked on a jigsaw puzzle as well.


A Scottish port.

A Scottish port.


Finished my latest painting.


I am trying to do at least one painting a month. This one is April's.

I am trying to do at least one painting a month. This one is April’s.


And played Words with Friends with my daughter.


She usually wins!

She usually wins!


It’s only 11 a.m.!!! Did I mention that I was awake at 5:45 this morning?

What do you do when you “just putter around”?

Well, I have to meet my daughter for lunch and I also have to think of how I am going to occupy myself for the rest of the day.

Have a fabulous day! – Maureen