The Joys of July

The last day of July is always bittersweet. It is still warm and sunny but we know that change is on the way.

For years and years I was an elementary school teacher and the end of July meant that it was time to begin thinking about the new school year ahead. It was coming soon but not quite yet.

In Canada, July begins with a celebration! Canada Day is July first, and this year Canada was 148 years old. In Ottawa, where I live, there is a huge gathering on Parliament Hill, in front of the Peace Tower. In the morning there are speeches by the Prime Minister and the Governor General. In the afternoon and evening there is a show, highlighting the talents of Canadian musicians and artists, from rappers to classical musicians, to dancers and acrobats. Later in the evening, there are fireworks which everyone enjoys.

Grandchildren.

Grandchildren.

The birthday girl.

The birthday girl.

Our 49th anniversary.

Our 49th anniversary.

Sisters and a brother. I am on the right. This photo shows 4/11 of our family.

Sisters and a brother. I am on the right. This photo shows 4/11 of our family.

Cousins!

Cousins!

There is a lazy slowness to the days, especially if one is retired as I am. My husband and I ride our bicycles almost everyday, and we walk on the trail to visit Tim Horton’s where J. has an iced coffee and I have a cup of tea. It is never too hot for tea!

We travelled to Montreal for a graduation party for our grandson, who will be going to CEGEP (Junior College) in September, studying Science.

This year we celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary on July 16, and our oldest daughter turned 48 a week later. She was born in Zambia during Canada’s Centennial year, 1967. This year, on the same day a great-nephew was born in Scotland. Joyful!

For the past several years my sister, Helen, who lives in Bermuda, comes to Canada, to avoid the extreme heat and humidity of her adopted homeland. I have been in Bermuda in the summer and I can tell you that it is beyond belief HOT and out of the realm of reality HUMID! We have NEVER had a day like that in Canada, no matter how hot it gets.

Helen and her husband, Ray, have bought an RV (very fancy/schmancy) and beginning in Vermont, where they have a home, they travel all over North America, and one of their stops is always Ottawa in July. They arrived last week and I visited with them many times as my other brothers and sisters did. They will go from here all across Canada to Victoria, BC, where they will attend our niece’s wedding in September.

Visiting with family – brothers and sisters, daughters, nieces and nephews, granddaughters and grandsons, is the biggest joy of all. July is perfect since everyone can sit outside in the beauty of the outdoors.

Thanks for reading. Have a great day! – Maureen

Type 2 Diabetes – Testing. Testing.

I have recently gone on medication for Type 2 Diabetes. It has been just over a month and my stomach problem due to the new pills is getting much better. It happens every few days but only lasts an hour or two.

Today I had a call from my pharmacist to tell me that my glucose monitor, lancets, and test strips are ready for to pick up.

I need to know when to test and track my glucose levels. I am sure there is an app for that which I can use on my new iPad Air 2.

*****

My visit to the pharmacy was very informative. The pharmacist took about 15 minutes to set up the monitor, explain everything to me and then watch as I did my first test.

To tell the truth I was a bit nervous.

First you get a lancet which is like a needle that is enclosed in a protective case. I inserted the lancet into the monitor and then I got out a test strip and inserted it into the monitor. That turned the monitor on. The prompt came, “Add blood.”

I then loaded the lancet by pushing forward on a button. I placed the pad of my thumb over the opening and pushed a white button to activate the lancet and get a drop of blood. I applied this to the side of the test strip and then waited for my reading.

In Canada, the results are shown as mmol/L. In the US measurements are expressed differently.

My result was 7.3 mmol/L.

Ideal numbers would be 4.5 – 6.5. But 7.3 is pretty good. It is in the “range”. Six weeks ago my number, after fasting for 12 hours, was 8.4.

The pharmacist told me to test only 2 or 3 times a week, and to keep a record of the results to show my doctor. The monitor will show you your average for a couple of weeks and will alert you when a “high” trend is noted. For instance, if you have tested high at a certain time of day, you would be alerted so you could perhaps change your diet.

The cost for all this? $4.99. I thank God that I live in Canada where our medical system provides such good care for such a low cost.

I will be seeing a nurse and a nutritionist in a couple of weeks, which is good because I still have a lot of questions.

By the way all the Apps I have seen so far have measured results in American measurements, so I am still looking for a “Canadian” Blood Glucose Logbook.

Thanks for coming with me on my next step in this journey. Have a good day!

 

 

 

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!