Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An early Christmas present

...or My Cat is a Reindeer!

Chomsky the Cat, fond of cornflakes and sparrows.
Well work has finished for me this year, and I've been stuck into late spring-cleaning the house and Christmas shopping. Oh my! Town is hectic! But I have finally finished, just the groceries to go.

And now for something wonderful. Yes, even more wonderful than my cat doing his reindeer impression. My endo did as promised, and wrote a letter:

A letter from my Endo, cc'd to the fertility clinic!
Typed version:

Dear Colleagues [Fertility Clinic, GP, Diabetes Nurse Educator, Patient],

I saw [Kaitake] for her brittle Type I diabetes. Since the last time I saw her she has changed jobs and initially work has been a little more unpredictable. She is trying to get very good control because she is wanting a pregnancy. Today her A1c is 6.6% which is the lowest she has ever had and is actually lower than it needs to be. She is having still unexplainable variation but no blood sugars below 3 which is a vast improvement for her. She is still going quite high after lunch but seems to be doing much better with carbohydrate counting partly because she has got a calculator to calculate the exact dose of insulin.

There is just an incredible story that she has been turned down for IVF - for which the IVF provider acknowledges they would otherwise be the ideal candidates. However, they haven't "waited long enough" - they have had unprotected intercourse for six years but the mandatory waiting rules only start when you have your first medical appointment with IVF provider. We are going to search her diabetes records to see if it was ever written down. There is also a delay because her husband had a vasectomy in his previous relationship. A vasectomy has got to be considered a good thing for society and yet now the couple is being punished for having done that. All of this is just frighteningly unacceptable and ignores the biology, sociology, psychology of IVF. I suggested that she go see her Member of Parliament. The other thing that is illogical and dangerous about this apparently official rule of having to wait longer for IVF treatment is that there will be an increased risk of morbidity and mortality for [Kaitake] and it will increase [the risk of] Down's syndrome in her child. Both of which are just idiotic for society and the patient.

The patient is going to call me if she needs some help reviewing the arguments when she goes to see her member of Parliament and I will call [the Fertility Clinic] myself to see who has written these stupid rules.

Yours sincerely,
[Consultant Endocrinologist]

So that is pretty amazing to have some help, and to know that we're not alone in thinking this whole situation is rather insane.

I am in the process of composing a letter to my Member of Parliament. This is rather a hard thing to do, I'm finding, as I have to explain our situation carefully and fully - yet it is very uncomfortable to have to tell a non-medical person all this stuff. It's rather a curious and embarrassing thing to have to plead with your MP so you can reproduce! But hey, if it works out, it might get us treatment, and save some other couple from going through the wringer. I just hope he can help, I'm just not sure how??

In other good news, I no longer have 2 and a half months unemployment facing me. Yay! I was only on a fixed term teaching contract, and my permanent contract doesn't start until next year (Feb!). My boss wheedled another week out of the HR department, and then the good folks in the staff advisory department have taken me on for 3 weeks as an e-learning consultant and video editor. Cool! I will be the only one in the art department taking only 3 weeks holiday (most of them are taking more like 10 - 12 weeks!!) but I'm fine with that.

What I'm not fine with is the weather. It's only 3 days until Christmas, and the drought we were having has turned into a torrential downpour of the highest order! Seriously, the humidity is sticky and horrid, and everything seems wet. The biscuits (cookies to you folks in the US) are soft, the Christmas gift wrap is damp, my hair has gone mental, and the garden needs weeding - desperately!

Here is a tour of my back garden, taken between rain showers:

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's the worst thing a low has forced you to do?

I am curious, because I had a low today and I was so desperate (2.3mmol/L, 41.1mg/dL) that I stole someone else's orange juice.

OK, so had the person been present, I would have asked. But they weren't, and I took without asking (probably without being able to ask, if I am honest! I could sort of think clearly, but I couldn't talk properly).

It's the last week before the office shuts down for Christmas break, and one of my colleagues brought in this neat toy:
Xbox Kinect. I played soccer, and boxing. TKO!
We have a video lab at the training institute where I work (art dept), so it was hooked up to a large projector in a darkened studio. Very cool. Before I knew it I had spent half an hour punching and kicking and victory-dancing my blood sugar from 16 down to 2.3. That is a very quick drop.

I looked in my bag: no juice boxes, no muesli or fruit bars. Nothing in the secret draw of emergency food either. Dumb. So I toddle down to the communal kitchenette that the whole top floor uses. I knew there was at least white sugar there. So I start making a cup of tea with about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. Waiting for the jug to boil. Waiting, waiting, can't wait - need sugar NOW!

I look in the fridge - oh, there is juice! Two big 4L bottles, although one of them looks like it has been there since the beginning of time. Orange juice isn't supposed to be green, is it? :P

So I drank the non-green juice. And I am glad I did, and I would do it again if I needed to. It tasted awful. I hate orange juice! After a few minutes the jug had boiled and my brew was so sweet the spoon *almost* stood up by itself in the cup :P haha. Another 10 minutes and my blood sugar had slowly climbed to 3.3mmol/L. Talk about a close call.

Maybe I should write a note and stick it on the bottle, thanking the person and offering them a new bottle of juice.

What's the worst thing you've had to do to get sugar when you've been low/hypo?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jaffas attaaack!

With only one week of work left before Christmas, the weekend proved to be both exhausting and worrying.

We had the step-kids come to stay as usual, and the youngest (9yrs) developed a fever. It started with some uncharacteristic bad behaviour at lunchtime on Saturday, when he refused to eat his lunch at the Grandparents. It turned into a bit of a drama, and by the time we got back to our house, the family was pretty tense. I left to do some Christmas shopping (nightmare! soooo busy), and Hubby sent me a text saying that Mr 9 had finally eaten his lunch.

At bedtime, the kids were exhausted and went to bed no worries, but Mr 9 woke with a headache and very high temperature at about 11.30pm. We got him water and some kids liquid panadol for the fever, and put him back to bed. Hubby checked him several more times during the night, and we made plans to go to the emergency doctor's in the morning.

Come the morning, the fever was mostly gone, and the headache had abated. But his chest hurt to breathe, and he had developed a bit of a cough. With the fever going down, it seemed the worst was over...

...Hubby took us out to lunch at a local favourite cafe, and Mr 9 was looking a bit green around the gills. We ordered a fluffy for each of the 2 kids with us (eldest stayed with his grandparents), and then our coffees arrived. I gave my marshmallows to the kids, while Hubby played with the jaffa on his saucer, picking it up on his teaspoon and passing it back and forth, via teasoon, to each of us at the table. I should have just eaten the damn thing, cos next thing I know, Hubby put the teaspoon to his lips and inhaled the jaffa. Yes. Inhaled. Choking. Wheezing. Purple. Very. Scary. He stood and left the cafe, and I followed after about a minute. I told the kids to stay put, and just to start eating their food should it arrive.

Hubby was not looking so good, he was leaning against a railing, and he had turned a funny colour. He told me that he'd given himself the Heimlich Maneuver, and got the jaffa out. His throat hurt and he had tears in his eyes. We went back to our table and had a slow lunch. Oh but it was scary. It's not everyday a sweet chocolate-orange candy treat tries to kill your husband!

And he's been talking differently this weekend too. About how he wants to be a father...again. :)  It makes me feel very warm and fuzzy to know that he's now wanting this as much as me. :)  With some hope that it may indeed happen, we've been talking about whether we'd like a boy or girl (human, please!), what each of our preferences are about finding out the sex of the baby before birth (Hubby: no, me: probably not). It's still a dream, but now I definitely know it's one we are both thinking about. :D

On the diabetes front, dropping the nighttime Lantus by one unit (to 8u) has so far worked much better than it did previously. I've had two acceptable breakfast tests.

Well, I have had enough unpredictability for one weekend! Back to work for one last, hopefully cruisy week, and then I plan to get stuck into preparations for the Christmas lunch we're hosting.

How was your weekend?

p.s. Mr 9 has made a full recovery :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm so happy I just did the washing!

Not happy about the washing, silly! Happy enough to DO the washing :)

I've just come back from my appointment with my endocrinologist, and the news is all good. My HbA1c is 6.6%, he couldn't believe it. Wanted to know what I was doing different? (Not much, just using the iPhone insulin calculator app, oh, and got a new, less stressful job). Anyway, because I still do get quite a few lows at night, and especially when I wake up, he recommended "backing off a bit". Which I think is a good idea. I will try dropping my evening dose of Lantus by 1 unit for a week, to see if that helps. I tried it for 2 days last week, but stopped because I got a couple of morning highs that I wasn't impressed with. If at first you don't succeed...

I have added this new result to TuAnalyze, even though they don't yet have a map for NZ:
How my HbA1c is tracking. Not too shabby! :)

Now for the bestest bit. Turns out that my endo has worked in the field of fertility before, so when he started asking how the IVF was going, and I told him how we had been denied funding based on a couple of irrational factors, he responded that it was an "irrational for of punishment" being dished out to us. Finally. Someone seems to get it. I can honestly say that I was not expecting him to say that, or to go further and offer to help us with the paper work and the fight for public funding, but he has. And I'm overjoyed. :D  I just couldn't believe it!!

At last some truly positive news. It feels like there is once again light at the end of the tunnel, where I had been coping in a grey-darkness for so many months.

We had a good discussion about how in New Zealand, where everyone is "equal" the cost of a particular health treatment should not matter. And if it does, then the patient should be means-tested for government funding. He noted that we are being unfairly denied public funding due to factors that we have no control over, such as a vasectomy in a previous marriage, kids from a previous marriage - neither of which we as a couple could affect. We also talked about how waiting will actually increase our chances of having a baby with Down's syndrome, or have me as a diabetic mother die during the process. Duh. "From a medical standpoint, waiting makes no sense whatsoever, it only serves as a cruel punishment to you." I agree. And it is good to know there may be some medical justification in not-waiting which could help advance our case.

Oh, he also recommended Hubby and I go make an appointment to see our local Member of Parliament, to let him know how the health system is failing us. Might just do that....

In other news, the semester has finished, and I gave my whole office Whittaker's Sante chocolate bars, and little cards. They have been in a chocolate stupor ever since!
Om nom nom nom!

I now have about 2.5 months of unemployment before my permanent contract with the local college/training institute kicks in. I shall spend the time:

  • gardening (ate my first homegrown boysenberry yesterday - summer is here with a vengance (drought)
  • building a website for our art department at work (my dept!)
  • hunting down freelance jobs (more websites)
  • hosting the whole fam-damily for Christmas lunch
  • buying pressies
  • watching my Hubby fish of the rocks, which I lie by the seaside up the coast with a book - our secret hideaway!
  • eating fresh Kahawhai, or Snapper, or whatever is caught.
What are your Christmas Summer/Winter plans?

Friday, December 3, 2010

In the local newspaper this morning...

District's diabetes service slammed

Taranaki's district health board has been slammed for inadequate services for people with diabetes.

**Have you experienced problems with a lack of services for people with diabetes in Taranaki? Post your comments below.
Paul Drury, medical director of the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes, was scathing about the level of service provided.

"We are extremely concerned and very disappointed that Taranaki as a district health board hasn't taken diabetes seriously over many years," Dr Drury said.

"Taranaki has possibly the most deficient service in the country."
The TDHB, in a written statement to the Taranaki Daily News through its media adviser Sue Carrington, defended its service for diabetics and expressed disappointment at the criticism

In the statement, primary healthcare portfolio manager Vicki Kershaw said the organisation was pleased with the latest health target results released by the Ministry of Health on diabetes and cardiovascular services, which showed it had reached 87 per cent of the eligible population

"Taranaki tops the country in this target," she said. "The DHB continues to work with and support the PHOs to ensure there are services in place in primary care to diagnose and manage diabetes in the community."
Surveys by the NZSSD and Diabetes New Zealand showed DHBs were failing the rapidly increasing number of people with diabetes.

Taranaki has never had a specialist diabetes service for the approximately 5000 people with disease, and the number is growing by five per cent a year.

"There are currently less than two specialist nurses and less than one day per week of physician time dedicated to the needs of this growing number of people," Dr Drury said. "It is growing very rapidly and there has been no growth in the service provision in Taranaki."

The deficiencies would lead to further complications and "this will have an increasing and inevitable impact on diabetes diagnosis and its long-term complications – kidney failure, amputation, blindness, premature heart disease and stroke".

TDHB clinical services manager Rosemary Clements said it provided 2.5 clinics a week, where 800 diabetic patients were seen by a specialist physician. It also employed four diabetes nurse specialists, who saw about 900 patients each year.

"We are very disappointed at the criticism and believe we are offering a good service to our diabetic patients. The services we provide do not appear to be reflected in the survey data," Mrs Clements said.

A "stay well" programme, aimed at giving people knowledge and tools to better understand and manage their condition, was provided by the TDHB, as was access to psychology and podiatry services when required.
"Taranaki DHB spends approximately $500,000 on specialist diabetes services alone. That is not including work in the community and other specialist services that are utilised," she said.


So, this is where I live. In the worst district in the country for diabetes care, money wise. No wonder I can't get funding for an insulin pump! And don't worry, I commented as such...

My Comment:

Type 1 Diabetic   #1   11:28 am Dec 03 2010

Yes, I do think that the level of service offered needs to be improved for diabetics, of all types (1, 2, LADA, gestational etc). But it's not the medical staff who are at fault - they do a great job and are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. It's just the MONEY which is not available.
It costs a lot to be a diabetic. Not many people know, but here in Taranaki diabetics are severely disadvantaged because our health board does not have funding for internationally accepted state of the art treatment - namely, insulin pumps and continuous glucose meters.
Yes, these devices are expensive, but remember that a diabetic (of any sort) did not choose to become diabetic, and if there is a medical treatment which has a high success rate in treating the daily complications of high and low bloodsugars, I believe we should have access to it. And how much would one of those cost? Try $7000 plus $2000 running costs per year. Too expensive for most.
Other health board around the country routinely fund these devices for those in need. But not here. It's almost worth moving for!
Please Taranaki District Health Board: look at how much it costs to be a diabetic - both in monetary and health/emotional terms - and do better for all of us!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Watching TV gets interesting

One of the banks has just started a new advertising campaign. It uses a really poignant song, and it just gets me every time it plays:

Sorry, you can't click it!

I couldn't save the video off their website, so to hear the song you'll have to watch it here:

I have to say, I had already been thinking about how we could maybe look at affording IVF privately. So far, I've not come up with many bright ideas, however, I've not been feeling too bad since I've been soooo busy at work - end of year and I've been snowed under with marking and stuff. I guess everything just got too hard for me when we got told we couldn't get public funding. I wouldn't say that my dream has died, far from it, but I've found a way (don't ask me how!) to cope and push the thoughts from my mind for a good chunk of my day.

Thoughts like,

  • Will I ever be a Grandma?
  • Who will I pass all my stuffed toys to?
  • Will I ever make my sister into an Aunty (she'd make the BEST aunty!)
  • Will I get to see if our kid/s have dark hair?
  • How will I fill up my years if I don't start a family?
  • What will be the meaning of my life if I can't have kids with the man I love?
  • How will I cope long term, once the "clock starts ticking"?
  • How long can we wait, since Hubby is not a spring chicken?
  • Will I ever get to decorate a nursery and buy oh-too-cute baby clothes?
  • Will I get to experience all the nervousness and fear that comes with pregnancy?
  • I already know that I will be a good Mum, and that Hubby is a good Dad, but will we get to have kids together?
  • Will I ever get to agonise over choosing a kindergarten/primary school/high school/university??
  • How will I choose a name for my baby?
  • Am I being stupid wanting something when the world seems to be telling me NO NO NOOO again and again?
  • Am I willing to go into debt to have only one chance at this? etc etc   ....sigh   :S

Ha! Who am I kidding! Those thoughts are still there, just perhaps not resting on the surface like a few months back :P

The sucky thing is there is ZERO information on their website about what they are actually offering - I'm assuming it's a personal loan. Something I want to avoid, since if I did get pregnant on the first pop (ok, yes, I am assuming a lot.... just let me think myself into a knot for a moment please :P  ) I would be definitely taking time off work, so would not be able to "administer" a loan of that scale. I'm very nearly debt free from uni, so I don't particularly relish the thought of plunging back into the red. Yeah, so the nice marketing folks at the bank have no idea, as they want, no, demand their potential customers to come in to discuss IVF in the bank (like, no freaking way!!) or phone them (a stranger on the phone, you've got to be kidding), or even, yup, you guessed it - facebook. What? And let all my IRL folks know the haps? Nup, no sale, happy yellow bank.

In happier news, Christmas is coming!! :D

We are hosting Christmas lunch at our place, and as it will be high-summer here in NZ, a classic backyard bbq is in order. Plus, we will have healthy selection of gluten free dishes and (weather permitting) fresh garden peas, new potatoes and tomatoes! Oh I hope the sky stays sunny!

I want to revamp the back garden. I've already planted a new rose garden with beautiful old roses such as:



Blackberry Nip

Dublin Bay



Jubilee Celebration

And we are thinking, maybe, of getting chickens. What do you think? Any of you have experience keeping pet chickens? Do you think it's a good idea? Fresh hen eggs....mmmm :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A contract, a project, a trip to the dermatologist, and wanting a baby badly!

I received my shiny new contract in the mail today, and it has that magical word on it: permanent. Yay! :)  So I will be teaching graphics and web design for a bit longer :D

The annoying thing is I will have to fill out all the new employee forms again, for payroll and HR, and do the staff induction, again! Could be worse I 'spose! :P

My current students are nearing the end of their courses, and being visual artists they are all freaking out about their end-of-year exhibition. I have spent the week chasing students who are on the brink of burn-out, and coaxing them to get their final projects finished.

I've also taught ALL of the technology teachers from the local high schools. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen: I was given 6 hours to teach 18 teachers (some of whom taught me!) how to use Photoshop and build a website in DreamWeaver, to a level that would mean they could confidently teach their students! What?! Oh, and no extra pay either. But even with that ridiculous expectation, the teachers all seemed pleased with what they had learned. Even if they were noisier than students! haha :P

In my freelance work, I've nearly completed my first web design project for the brand new client I just landed. She runs a boutique print-design agency (where my lil sis works! Yes, a family of designers), and has been on the hunt for a new contract web designer. Woohoo!! :D My new tutoring contract won't start until February, so that means I will have over 2 months unemployed over Christmas. Hopefully this new client will be able to feed me enough work to um, keep me fed!

There are not many photos of me on this blog, mainly because I'm often the one behind the camera, but also because I'm not happy with my skin. I often get breakouts, and being very fair with freckles, having a sore red nose and spots is not ideal! So I took my snout off to the dermatologist, and I am very glad I did. Dr Derm is very nice, and after asking me why I was there, he immediately examined my skin with a magnifying glass and made an immediate diagnosis. Yes, it's adult acne, no it's not too bad, yes he is quite confident he can do something to help me. Hooray! It will be lovely to have clear skin and not have to worry about makeup making it worse!

He prescribed me a course of Roaccutane which seems to be made of vitamin A. The Dr showed me many before and after photos of people with much worse acne than me, and the improvement they got with the treatment - quite amazing. Dr Derm is very confident he can help me, and knew exactly what to do. I will start with a cream-version of the drug, and then swap to pills once they arrive. I take those for about 12 weeks, at which stage he said my skin should be pretty clear, then take another 12 weeks to "set" the result. The effect should be permanent.

I've used the cream for two nights now, and although I was warned to only use it very sparingly as it can cause redness and irritation, I've not experienced that yet. Because it's vitamin A, I have to be very careful now about staying out of the sun, so I've got a good sunscreen (we have the ozone hole right above us here, so I burn like a lobster in about 10 - 15mins), and hubby is muttering that I need a wide brimmed hat for gardening.

The whole experience* was really good, about as good as visiting a doctor can get. You go in with a problem, and he pretty much says "I know exactly what condition you have, and how to cure it!" Amazing! As a diabetic I've gotten used to going to the doctor to "manage" my condition, and as an IFfer I'm starting to realise that I now have another long term relationship with doctors on the horizon, so it's nice to have a doctor say, hey, I can cure that, no worries! :)


Well, I left the appointment both happy that I had a solution to try for the acne, and a bit hazy and shaky because of an unfortunate blunder on the part of the dermatologist. To his credit, he was incredibly smiley and friendly, but I quickly learned that he did not understand what he was saying and how it was affecting me. Here's what happened:

Because Roaccutane can cause fetal abnormalities, it's not allowed during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. Fair enough, no-one wants that. I made the choice before attending the appointment that if any medication I was offered had an anti-pregnancy warning, I would still take it because I can't sit around and wait for IVF funding to magically appear. I have to get on with my life! But the doctor had to warn me of this risk, and then he had to make sure I wasn't even trying to get pregnant. He's an Indian man, so his English was softly-spoken and a bit hard for me to understand. But he clearly asked me what contraception I was using, and I replied that it wasn't an issue since hubby has a vasectomy.  I have no trouble telling a doctor that. It was what he said next which floored me: "How many children do you have?" I must have looked like I was about to choke, cos he looked worriedly at me, and followed up with something that I think was "and when did you decide to do that?" I spluttered out, that no, I was wife number two, and I had no children. He was so kind about it, but it affected me deeply. I left feeling really upset and had to work hard to push the thought from my mind. I guess most people don't make that mistake when they see me with my step-kids, because I don't look old enough to be their Mum. But out of context like this, it was horrible. He thought he was being nice asking about my family. But I don't have kids. And I am still training myself to say "I have 3 step-kids".

I was so upset I finished up at work early and went to my Mum's house, for a cup of tea and some comfort. We ended up speaking at length about infertility and what I've been through, and what possibilities exist for a future including children (IVF, ICSI, The Cost, fighting the CPAC score we got which denied us public funding, how long we could wait with our varied ages, etc...) . It was really nice to be able to almost speak easily about it, as I spend most all of my waking time thinking about it, and many of my sleeping hours dreaming/nightmaring about it. I feel I need to talk in depth like this with Hubby soon, make some decision on how we can proceed. I realise that I have been feeling a bit alone in this, and it may just be because it IS hard to talk about it. It basically ruins any quite moment we have to ourselves, and any other moment just seems inappropriate. Ah well... I'm reading through Navigating the Land of IF at the moment, and it's really helpful stuff. I wish I'd known about some of it a year ago! I am slowly working my way through my stack of IF and IVF books.

So the journey is not over yet. It's just kind of stalled. I still really want to have kids. Babies are absolutely everywhere. One of my best friends from primary school just had her second baby on Thursday. I see bellies wherever I go. I stop at the traffic lights and stare into space while I wait for the green, and lo! A belly will walk across in front of my car and jolt me back into a mire of emotions: longing, wanting, frustration, grief, sadness, and fear that it may not ever happen. At lunch with the in-laws today, MIL chucks in a remark about a family that have just had their firstborn. Every time we visit she manages to say something about babies. Grr. I try really hard to tell myself that no one means anything by it. But when babies and family-building are so entrenched in the human culture, it's really hard to just switch off from it, because it's everywhere, reminding me that I cannot have a child unless I stump up $12K for some of the most advanced medical technology on the planet.

On the diabetes front, I am having an unusual pattern emerging where I go low just before bed, and often low again during the night, and often also wake up slightly lower than ideal. I am thinking I need to drop my nighttime Lantus (I'm on split dose because I'm so sensitive to it). I'm a bit scared to tamper with the Lantus dose, but I also know that I cannot keep going low all the time, as I develop hypo unawareness quite quickly. I also cannot keep eating all the emergency food all the time, it's not a healthy diet! Bah! I will get this sorted, diabetes always throws down the gauntlet every now and then. I must get a new log book and do some tracking. I know the stress of the work I'm doing has a major impact on my diabetes control (ie it gets worse), but not having a two week snapshot of test results is not helping me right now. This is the longest time since, like, ever that I haven't kept a log book! MUST GET NEW LOGBOOK!

Hope you're having a good weekend, are you going trick or treating? :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

In denial

I saw read about Eilish yesterday. But it did not hit home.

Today, the blog posts are flooding in. This sad story is all over the DOC:

Six Until Me
The Diabetic's Corner Booth
Talking Blood Glucose

I was once a thirteen year old girl with diabetes. It makes me feel numb and a bit terrified to think that any of us can be taken in the night like this. :(

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's only thursday and I am knackered!

I taught 5 classes in 4 days, wrote 5 lesson plans, went to my job interview (Tuesday), wrote 5 quotes for web designs and visited a new client I'm hoping to land, designed 3 web sites, made one logo, got the job (today: yay!), reviewed a student's dissertation, landed that client (yesterday: yay!), went to a staff meeting, finished my exhibition, made a booking at the dermatologist, and did the grocery shopping. I need a nap.


It was a bit funny, I took unofficial time off my current job, which is a short term contract until the end of the year, to attend an interview with my boss, to get a job which is identical to my current job. Talk about a paradox. Anyway, HR will be HR eh? :P

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rollerblading and ducks

After my first week back to work after the holidays I've had a really good relaxing weekend.

I've read a few books. I have had a couple of "Aha!" moments, which I will explain in another post :)

I went rollerblading with Hubby and a selection of kids, at the local roller rink's family skate night. There nothing like flying round and round the rink listening to badly distorted emo music at full blast to make you feel 13 again! haha

Hubby and I had the kids to stay this weekend, so we went to collect them on Friday night. We were early, so they weren't all at their home yet. Olivia was busy finishing off her horse ride, so we drove down to the fields the pony club uses and watched her riding her horse, then washing and feeding her (the horse, not Olivia - although she [Olivia] did admit to taste-testing the horse feed!) As we drove back to the kids house the road passes over a small creek, and there, walking merrily in the middle of the road, was a mother duck and her five ducklings! How cute! Traffic was stopped on both directions, with orange hazard lights on. A lady walking her dog came out and shepherded the ducks off the road so it all turned out happy. :)

I tried skate-boarding for the first time! Well, I didn't go very far, but I didn't fall off either! Very pleased with myself. Ok, I will admit I had Hubby standing beside me letting me cling to his shoulder, but it was still lots of fun! :) It was cool to have most of the kids (and some mates) skating down the seaside walkway together. We ended up at the local skate park, where suddenly parents became V-E-R-Y uncool. Ha! Anyway that's where we got the idea to go to the family skate night, cos the roller rink is right next door.

We dropped Eldest Step Son off at his Grandparents, and took Two Youngest plus Loud-Mouth Friend home and made dinner - I tried making "Jerk Chicken" (Question: why is it called "Jerk"??) which was very tasty and met with silence - a good sign meaning kids are eating! :)

Here is my recipe:

700g chicken nibbles (small chicken wings and mini-drumsticks)
1 onion
2 - 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
portuguese chicken seasoning (mix of paprika, salt, chilli, oregano, lemon)
finely chopped fresh thyme (from my freshly replanted herb garden :D )
2 - 5 Tablespoons of your favourite dark soy sauce
1 Table spoon cornflour/cornstarch

Mix everything (except the soy and cornflour) together. I just put it all into the glass roasting dish and massaged it together with my hands. Messy but fun. Wash hands. Cover the dish with tin foil and put it in the oven at 200 degrees C.

Leave it for about 20 mins, or until the chicken is no longer pink. The tinfoil should keep all the moisture in, and the onion should mix with the oil to create a runny liquid.

Take the dish out of the oven and put it on a heatproof surface. Remove the tinfoil. Add the soy, more if you like saltier things, and make sure the liquid level is about half way up each piece of chicken, so they are half-submerged. This will let the top half go nice and crispy in the air. Mix up the cornflour in a little water and mix it into the sauce.

Return to the oven for another ten minutes, and put it to fan bake/fan-forced to speed up the crispy-ization. :) Serve with mini-roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and fresh baby peas. Yummy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Books I'm reading

So I toddled over to and found this book written by Melissa Ford:
I read the first chapter on, so I've decided to order it. It will take over a month to get here to New Zealand! What!? It's almost like we live on the moon! :P

That got me thinking, maybe the local library has some books on dealing with infertility. It's been a hard thing to come to terms with this second diagnosis, but in reading Melissa's book (bits of it) I've already discovered things that are helpful to me. So I gathered my parking meter money and headed off to the library in search of more information.

I took all the interesting looking books, as follows:
The IVF Revolution, by Prof. Robert Winston

Why me? The Real Life Guide to Infertility by Loraine Brown

What to Expect When You're Experiencing Infertility by Debby Peoples and Harriette Rovner Ferguson 

Unsung Lullabies, Understanding and Coping with Infertility by Jaffe, Diamond, and Diamond

IVF & Ever After by Nicola Bedos

Infertility, A Guide for New Zealanders by Sue Saunders. No link, as I couldn't find anywhere selling it!
Looks like I have a lot of reading to get through! I've started with the last one on the list, as it's written by  Sue Saunders who is currently working as a counsellor at the fertility clinic that's we've had dealings with - how's that for irony! Anyway, even though it was written before the turn of the millennium, the information about emotional stuff seems sound.

Here's a bit of depressing news: GST has gone up. GST is Goods and Services Tax, and it applies to most everything you buy in NZ. It went from 12.5% up to 15%. "Why is that interesting to me?" you say, well, it affects the cost of IVF treatment. What was once around about $11K has just jumped to over $12.5K!!! :(  I sat down with a calculator last night and worked out the cost. I suppose it doesn't really matter if I reveal the name of the clinic, it's not like there are many to choose from in New Zealand: Fertility Associates. (P.S I really really think they should consider changing the photo on their homepage - a big pic of a baby is just insulting!) Yeah, so at least the cost of everything is on their website.

I'm trying to decide what to do, how to progress things a bit. On one hand, I've already written to asking for their help, and they have said they will be advocates for us and forward our letter of complaint on to the fertility clinic. However that was over a month ago. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't just complain directly to the clinic. What do you think?

The other thing I'm trying to decide is whether or not I should approach the Health and Disability Commissioner. Here in NZ there is quite a good system where patient/consumers can easily make complaints about health providers. I've made use of them once before when my endocrinologist did a shoddy job of switching me over to Lantus (he got the dosing all messed up, which meant I had a bad hypo and broke my back, then he blamed me. Yes, he's my current endo - I live in a small town!) and the folks there were quite helpful and very clear about my rights. I know they probably can't do much in the way of getting us the access to public funding we require, but it would be good to stop a similar thing happening to other couples. It's totally changed my life. The more I think about what happened, I become convinced that we are being discriminated against. Just because Hubby has a vasectomy from a previous marriage, that should have nothing whatsoever to do with our marriage. Our marriage is infertile, with 0% chance of conception and over 7 years of trying. In any way you look at it, telling us to wait 3 years feels like a penalty that neither of us could have ever done anything to avoid. I read a couple of government reports by a chap called Wayne Gillett, in which he noted the feelings of grief and devastation are just as great in a couple who are "situationally infertile". I must get a copy of those reports (also quite old) and post interesting parts up here. Getting them may be hard though, as they are at the library at work, and I DO NOT want my co-workers to see me getting them out of the library. Maybe I will just photocopy them...

Anyway, I'm feeling tired and high and hungry. Want to eat, need to drink (water), and do a test. Until another day, have a great Thursday/Friday in your part of the world. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Exhibition opening

The opening to the tutor exhibition went really well. I was a bit worried because the other tutors were quite late installing their work, and then of course I was worried about showing my work next to theirs! We are spread across two rooms, and at one stage no one else had installed into my room, I was all on my lonesome! There was some talk of getting me to move my artwork to the other room - so not fair, since I was first to install out of everyone! So I chased the remaining artists to get them into my room, and it all worked out well.

The opening went off without a hitch, and it looked (and sounded) great. We had about 30 people come along, and for a lunchtime opening I thought that was quite good. The institute CEO came down and wanted to meet all the artists and talk to us about our works, which I thought was a really nice guesture as he's really busy.

I got some really good feedback from both the other artists and our students. It's great to see the look on their faces when they realise you are actually a practising artist, and this is a professional show. It's cool to see them see you in a whole new light :) Actually I think they were a bit surprised by how passionately each of us tutors could speak about our works, completely unprompted (students need to be poked with a hot stick before they will get up in front of people and talk about their work!!).

The other artists showed prints, paintings, digital artworks on computer, video, sculptures, photos, installations, and drawings. All in all it seems to be a great cross-section of different artistic disciplines and I'm very pleased I took part. I've had some great feedback so far, and everyone really wants to know what the words mean. That gives me a great chance to explain a bit more about diabetes, and several of my colleagues were very surprised to find I had diabetes - I certainly don't hide it!

Hopefully I will have some photos for you all by the end of the week :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A sort of anniversary

So this will be short and sweet, but I just wanted to mark the start of October since it's roughly one year since we started this journey of diabetes and infertility. My bloggiversary occurs next April - I can't believe it's so far away, I feel like I've been writing for ever! haha  I will have to think up a special celebration for it.

Oh well, to mark the day, here is one of my favourite paintings. I actually made a reproduction of this work, in my student days (no, you can't see it!)   :)

Girl with a Pearl Earring - c.1665 -  Johannes Vermeer
My lovely hubby took me out for Indian for dinner tonight. Yum yum! Butter chicken my favourite (predictable, I know - but I only choose it about 50% of the time I eat Indian, honest!) Lots of poppa dams, naan bread, white rice, and fried tandoori things on a hot stone. Ooh food heaven!

I have to say, I am a very useful person to take out to dinner. You see, whenever I take out my test kit, the wait staff ALWAYS come over. It might be coincidence, but it's happened so many times (more than 100) that I think the waiters are just curious! What is she doing? hehe - anyway the upshot is that we get served pretty quickly!

The downside, with indian food, is I have no idea how to carb count it. :(

Actually, it would be helpful if I knew exactly how much I ate :P  But I just wolf it down, so hungry!

I had my first day back at work today after mid-semester break, and with a good breakfast test, and not much food (no grazing at the biscuit tin today!), and plenty of walking between classrooms, I went quite low during a staff meeting this afternoon. After treating that, then eating Indian for dinner meant a nice high just now. Ah well. Bolus. Then the painful part - staying awake long enough to know if it's "just right" and not going to send me plummeting overnight.

I also don't want to be high all night, as that will ruin me for the exhibition opening tomorrow (so excited!) Oh, question for you: do you get incredibly hungry when you are high sometimes? Like, ravenous? It's weird, my symptoms seem to have done a flip-flop over the last couple of months. I just want to eat the cupboards bare when I'm high, and (TMI warning, advance apologies, avert your eyes etc) I need to pee like a racehorse when I'm low. Weird I know - I've never been one to do things by the book :P

Friday, October 8, 2010

My diabetes artwork - installation complete! Hooray!

Five posters, two ladders, and four lows later, I'm done! Yay! What a day! :D

Here are the posters, see which words you recognise:

DOC: the diabetes online community, a wonderful bunch of bloggers who encourage and support each other :)
SUM: six until me, the first diabetes blog I read, and the one that inspired me to create my own blog.
BASAL: refers to insulin basal rates, a word that diabetes folk will understand, but other people might not necessarily.
SWAG: stupid wild-arsed guess, for when a diabetic takes an unscientific amount of insulin, rather than working it out.
BOLUS: the insulin a diabetic takes with each meal, or to correct a high blood sugar. Another word that non-diabetics may be puzzled by.

By now you are probably scratching your head, wondering why on earth I've made these posters. Well dear friends, I will tell you :) I'm a tertiary tutor at the local college, and I work in the art department teaching typography, design, web, and digital media. It's good fun. Once a year the art tutors get together and put on a little exhibition to show the students and the local community what we've been up to.

At first I didn't know what to make my artwork about, but then I thought what better subject than diabetes? But how to portray it in a way which is both useful to diabetics (ie, improves knowlege and understanding of T1 diabetes) and sympathetic to diabetics (ie, not crass or gross, using obvious imagery like needles, blood, or the horrors that get repeated in the media about diabetes).

This artwork, although not large, is my first foray into making diabetes related art. And so far it's getting a good reception by those who've seen it. The exhibition opens on Tuesday and I can't wait!

It's made of ink on watercolour paper, on cotton printed fabric. Each piece is hung separately from a bamboo pole, perpendicular to the wall:

The first thing the viewer will see when they step into the gallery.

The five posters are hung perpendicular to the wall, to obscure the straight view onto the images.

I love the shadows created by the pieces, and how they become a floating sculpture, rather than just flat pictures on a wall.

Kitch floral prints were chosen for the backing, to tie the pieces into my home.

The viewer will have to come up really close and stick their head in the 40cm gap between each poster to view them properly.  I like that!

The posters depict words created by, specific to, or repurposed by the diabetes community. The underlying themes in this work include diabetes, community, language, and the interplay between secret and public. I chose this visual style to work as a visual pun on the idea of embroidery samplers, sometimes called needlepoint samplers. I've turned my posters into graphic samplers dealing with words related to diabetes, which is synonymous with needles. :)

Here's a short timelapse video of the making-of one of the posters:

And here's some shots from the installation of the work:

Tying tiny knots in fishing nylon line, to hang each poster.

The day was like a aerobic step-class from hell. I went up and down the ladder soooo many times! Ah, we must suffer for out art! :P

Final touches, straightening and checking the pieces before tidying up the room and setting the lighting.
It's been a mad day, with a crazy rush to get everything done and put together. A couple of lows interrupted my day, and I couldn't get above 5.2mmol/L until about 6pm. Oh, they've all caught up with me now though, I'm 17.2! Bah! :P

Roll on Saturday! :D

Thursday, October 7, 2010

If all goes according to plan...

...I will be installing my artwork tomorrow. I PROMISE to post up some photos soon!

I've made five posters, all hand drawn. I haven't done so much "manual" graphic design work for about 6 years, so now when I look at the plain white sheet of paper I see spots! haha. Eyes are getting pretty tired. That mild headache I mentioned yesterday is still here, and I think it's just a combination of eye strain and naughty hayfever medication being a monkey.

Hubby and I have just been for a lovely walk along the seaside walkway here in town. He made a wonderful steak dinner, and then we did the dishes together :) Awwwww :)

Finishing off my drawings this week has been hard, not only because I started to get a little impatient (I'm used to working in Adobe Illustrator software, so goin' old skool with pen and paper seems to take forever!), but because our kitchen table looks straight into the neighbour's backyard. And they have two little girls, toddlers, and all morning when I'm trying to work I hear them laughing or crying or eating dirt or chasing their kitten or whatever, and it it just so hard to work while that constant reminder is there. No. You can't have kids unless you either a) wait for 3 years or b) stump up the cash for private IVF. Bah.

I can't seem to find a "healthy" focus in my life right now. Every second thought is about either how we could have a baby, or what I will do if we can't. Actually, I also think about how I should stop from going MAD because of how I'm thinking! Seriously, it's getting me mighty depressed, made worse by the fact that I don't really fell comfortable talking about it with anyone. No one wants to hear me talk about this. It's not happy conversation. And a talk won't fix it so why bother? I have thought on a couple of occasions that perhaps I should consult a counsellor. And then I go and buy a lotto ticket instead, as I see that as being slightly more practical.

Yesterday I saw 3 baby-bump-bellies, 2 strollers, and had to work through the neighbours having what was practically an at-home creche for 3 - 4 babies. I just can't think of anything else. It is driving me insane. I can't be happy. Even out on our lovely walk, it was all going well when we met eldest step-son with a goodly-chunk of his family out also for a walk. Nice to see them, yes. Did it remind me that hubby already has kids, and that I am the only "parent" of his kids (they have four: mum, step-dad, dad, step-mum) who isn't actually a bona-fide parent?

In other, slightly related news/ramblings, I got the quote back for doing over the back garden. It's way too expensive, about double what I was willing to part with. So maybe we will look at doing it ourselves. But honestly, the first thought when I opened the quote was "ok, so I can't have that either, I can't have any of my dreams!" I know, a bit melo-dramantic, sorry! But I have my good days and my bad days. Days where I see a bazillion kid-related things are tough. I just want to shout at them "stop bloody torturing me!" Other days it's almost like I'm normal, pre-infertility label.

Yeah, so I began thinking, if I can look at spending money on landscaping, why not put some serious effort into saving up for IVF myself? I just reapplied for my teaching job, for next year, and I'm pretty sure I will get it. And it pays not too bad, so I will start saving like mad and living like a pauper. hehe, we'll see. Really, 11K would stretch us. We would have enough for treatment, but no money to feed/clothe a baby afterwards! :P

I have not heard back from (could be because their site is down, perhaps?). A while back I wrote a letter which they said they would pass on to the clinic that treated us badly. Maybe after writing this post I will email them and see what's happening. Last time I spoke to the nice ladies there, they seemed to understand, and be sympathetic to our case.

I just feel like I now have no purpose in life. Hubby is much older, I love him, but I need to know that when I'm old, I have kids of my own to look after me. I really don't want to be alone in this world. And I don't want to miss out on being a mum, being a grand-mother, seeing my kids take their first steps, or burp all over me, or skin their knees and need a hug. From their mum: ME! I hate to think that my life is diverging from it's intended path, from my dreams, from what I always thought it would be. I know some people actively choose not to have kids. That's fine. But I have made the discovery that I do want kids badly, so not being able to fulfill that is really hard to deal with. Way harder than anything I've ever faced before, as I have to face it every day. Babies are everywhere in the media, and in town, and the step-kids come every second weekend so I can't even escape to my own home. :(

Sorry to be such a downer, but I'm stuck. I feel I have no direction in my life, and the little goals I'm setting myself just aren't cutting it. Once upon a time something like an exhibition would have ruled my life for months, I would have poured my heart and soul into it. Now, I just feel I have nothing to give. I feel empty because I'm just drifting. Don't get me wrong, my life is very comfortable. There is just no aim to what I do. And that scares me. I don't want to waste life, because I've fought so hard to be healthy and happy up til now.

Anyway, pictures for you tomorrow, I promise. :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dreaming of a patio, would you believe

Well, I decided I had to have something to take my mind of things. So a great garden adventure it is! I've been measuring the back garden, driving out to paving/cobblestone wholesalers, and I've even called a landscape architect round to view the property and get a quote ready! I know, you will call me mad as soon as you read the next line. We are only renting. But wait! This was my grandmother's house, and she used to have a beautiful garden here. My parents own it now and we rent it from them. Seriously, I plan to live here for quite some time, and I want somewhere to have a bbq out the back. :)

I'm on what would be called "spring break" in America, I guess. Just two weeks off in the middle of the semester, but I've not been lazing about. I'm actually getting ready for an exhibition!

I will post some pics of the artwork up here when they are finished. They deal with ideas around diabetes, typography, language and community. The exhibition itself is just for art tutors, and I got to design the "branding" for it too, which is cool. I am quite chuffed to be exhibiting again, my last job sucked all the creativity out of me, but now I'm actively encouraged to make art/design, so it feels great. I've been sitting at the sunny kitchen table every morning drawing and inking and growling at the cat for walking over all the nice clean paper. It will be a challenge to see my work up there alongside that of the other tutors, as not so long ago they were my tutors! I hope mine will be good enough! :D The exhibition starts next Tuesday, so hopefully I will have the artwork finished and ready to install tomorrow or Friday. Fingers crossed.

My diabetes control has been a bit higgeldy piggeldy over the hols, due to the facts that I am getting up much later, not working to a schedule, eating more, and doing less exercise. Ah, holidays. :P Oh and hayfever tablets are also in that mix, making me soooo sleeeeeepy. I didn't take mine today, and have been given a headache in return. Thanks, hayfever!

It also looks like I've picked up quite a substantial lead for some freelance web design. My sister works for a local boutique design house, and they need a web monkey to make sites... so I've been sending out quote after quote this week, and I have a meeting with the boss tomorrow - wish me luck!

Well, that's all for now. Must, quite literally, get back to the drawing board. Have a great week. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

30 things you might not know about my invisible illness

OK, so I'm leaving this a bit more than late - Invisible Illness Awareness Week is now officially over. But hey, just cos I missed it doesn't mean should miss out, eh? :)

1. The illness I live with is: Type 1 Diabetes

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1988

3. But I had symptoms since: I was 5 at the time, so I don't remember the exact timing of stuff that far back. I do remember walking in town with my family, and repeatedly asking for a drink, and being given a can of (normal) lemonade! I also remember getting really skinny and earning the nickname 'stickthin' at school. I also remember that shortly after I was diagnosed, it was my 6th birthday, and my Mum had no idea what to make as a cake. Being the inventive soul that she is, she made a "plain" cake and "iced" it with cream cheese decorated with kiwi fruit! Let's just say my 6 yr old friends didn't know what to think of that! :P

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: None. I've had this so long that it has become a part of me. I barely remember what it was like to not be diabetic. This IS my normal. Of course, whenever the drug companies make a new insulin, that's always a major adjustment to get used to.

5. Most people assume:
 That T1 is just a "worse" form of T2. It's not. They are 2 completely separate diseases and I am beginning to see the logic in two very distinct and separate names! Some people also assume that
- I can't eat ANY sugar
- I can't eat salt (WTF?)
- I can't eat chocolate (gimme gimme!)
- I just have an injection and that fixes everything
- that it's similar to mild asthma - when I explain the daily rituals and routines I go through, most people are quite amazed I get any work done at all!

6. The hardest part about mornings are: 
waking up either really high or really low, as either result is guaranteed to wreak havoc on my day.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. It's funny.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: Well, the obvious answer is my glucose meter (Optium Xceed), but I could just get another one. Maybe my iPhone. I love my iPhone! I use it to calculate insulin dosages and control has gotten better since I started doing that :)

9. The hardest part about nights are: those common occasions when I go low and have to get out of a snuggly bed to fetch juice or biscuits. Or, those very rare occasions when I wake up in accident and emergency with the worried faces of my husband and parents looking down at me :(

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) No pills, just Lantus and Humalog insulins. Between 5 - 10 injections per day. Oh, I was taking a pre-pregnancy supplement and iron pills, but since I have to wait...let me count, 25 months to wait before we can even go on the waiting list, and another 18 months after that before we may actually be able to start IVF treatment, I kinda stopped taking them :( Believe me, I will do anything I can to start taking those pills again!

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Sometimes I take garlic capsules, and I like a good lemon-honey drink for a sore throat. I also love a good backrub.

12. If I had to choose between ainvisible illness or visible I would choose: I dunno, invisible I suppose because that's what I'm used to. I get annoyed when people don't understand, but then I realise that if I tell them, then THEY KNOW. And that can have both positive and negative side effects :P

13. Regarding working and career: I think it's completely unfair for folks with a chronic illness to just have the same number of paid sick days as "normal" people. When I get the flu, that's a sick day off work. But what about when I've had a really bad low at night? I look fine, but my brain may be completely fried! Not fair I tell you!

14. People would be surprised to know: Just how much diabetes can take over a person's life. I think I would be a completely different person if I hadn't been diabetic. I think I would have been much more out-going and perhaps less focused.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
 I didn't get a choice. It was just something that happened: Get on with life.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:
 write this blog! :D
17. The commercials about my illness: Are terrible. Not only because they make sweeping generalisations and play-up to stereotypes, but also because they often get things wrong. I also hate the way patients are seen as dollar signs. Makes me grumpy just thinking about how some people profit from other people's illness!
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Eating milo sandwiches, with lashings of butter and brown sugar, on white bread with the crusts cut off. This was my Aunt's speciality. Haven't eaten it in about 22 years.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Can't remember back that far, didn't really have any food habits to give up.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: So many to choose from! Kung fu, silver smithing, painting, photography, gardening...
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Figure out how to make it the next day too!
22. My illness has taught me: to stand up for myself and question everything a health professional tells me.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: how many sugars do you want in your tea? Just, goddam it, give me the sugar bowl and let me decide!
24. But I love it when people: like me for who I am, not what I am.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Do not be afraid of perfection, you will never reach it.  -- Salvador Dali, surrealist painter.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: I will be here to help you if you need it.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: The fact that I perhaps get better medical care than a "normal" person because diabetics get shunted to the top of the list.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Look after me.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I just read about it, and think it's an excellent idea :)
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: happy that you want to stalk me and find out everything about me haha! :P