Mar 26, 2011

Shortish update

Not much is going on dog-wise. Molly's training is on hold, we're not sure if it's worth it due to her sensitivity. She can not concentrate on anything if she's scared or nervous. And she's a scaredy dog.
Take our new flat, for example. We moved from a semi-detached to a small block of flats and the noises that you get here are completely different. After six months, she's still nervous of people walking in the hallway, thinking they're all going to burst through our door. And the postman isn't helping, shoving things through the door on a daily basis. (In the old flat, we had a separate letterbox and she was blissfully unaware of it.) But in general, the effort just doesn't seem justified. I doubt we'd ever be able to completely trust her to notice night hypos or anything else. So she is "just" a pet at the moment. Which isn't that bad. We're intending to get a second dog at some point and maybe we'll ask for professional help when choosing the puppy. 

Eli is doing great, he can measure his own bg now and prep the insulin pen. Actual injecting isn't really an option for him, yet, as the only place with any fatty tissue is the buttocks. D, in his mind, is something mundane and not worth mentioning anymore, unless you have to explain it to stupid strangers who are puzzled by the needles and drops of blood. Other children are always curious for two minutes but then lose interest very quickly.
His levels are ok, I suppose, but the night readings are a bit of a pain. As he is on MDI and the amounts of insulin are relatively small, adjusting the pen units is proving to be tricky. Half a unit can make a world of difference. I also think the pen isn't very reliable when it comes to smaller amounts, meaning you can never be sure how much insulin you've given. It's the nightly nightmare: do you risk correcting a hypo at three in the morning or do you let it go high. There seems to be no middle ground. Correcting the night highs is scary as well, you never know what just a single unit can do by the morning.

I'm dreaming of a less intrusive pump. Eli tried a CGM a while ago and the sensor set his eczema off. The particular spot of skin on his lower back/upper buttock was infected for weeks. So I'm a bit wary about the pump, the cannula would be in all the time, meaning he would always have those infections.

I think what we could really use is some sort of respite. I've put an application in for a government-funded summer camp for families of diabetic children. They are really popular, childhood diabetes being ridiculously common in Finland. So I don't like our chances. It would be nice to speak to other parents and most importantly, it would be great for Eli to meet other diabetic children. His creche is so small he is the only d-child and that will probably be the case in the autumn, as well, when he starts preschool (in Finland, you start school at seven, preschool at six). Also, we could really use the holiday, being stuck at  home for the entire horrible winter. It's been one of those winters where I seriously kick myself for choosing to live in this godforsaken country. And still do. The clocks go forward this weekend and we get blizzards. Summer time my arse.

Not much else going on with us, apart from the new arrival in July. There will be five of us (or six, if you want to count Molly in, as Eli does) which means the summer will be an interesting one.

Aug 3, 2010

I want my puppy back

A Havanese puppy came to work today and I found it hard to believe Molly was ever that cute. She's turned into a real teenager, stealing contraband leftovers and sulking when told off.
When I call her, she takes her time and then turns up slowly. I bet she'd roll her eyes if she could.. "whaaaaaaaaaat?". The worst thing is, she has, erm, interests. I have a horrible feeling we have a future teenage mother in the house.

It's been incredibly hot here in the last month, over 30C-37C degrees in the day and even the nights have been stupidly hot. I must remind you that we are in Finland, the alleged land of polar bears (ours are plain old brown ones) and Santa Claus (the commercial version, not taking a stand on the existence of the real thing). We do get nice summers, but 25C is considered hot here. Anyway. The heat has gotten to all of us, including the mutt.
 I've got mosquito nets on the windows as we have a fair few of those flying about. Technically, the windows aren't open and accessible, it took me a good two hours to nail the nets on.

But Molly thought otherwise. Her Houdini impression was a success, and one morning I woke up to someone/thing scratching the door, from the outside. Lord knows what she'd been up to, she probably spent the entire night outdoors. We get up in the night to measure Eli's glucose but Molly, being a semi-failed hypodog and all, couldn't care less. She usually sleeps under our bed so we didn't know to miss her that night. The best part is, after that night, some of our neighbours have complained to the landlord that we keep our dog free. Yes, we let her roam the town every night. It's easier that way. Sigh.

Eli is breaking my heart, he is so good with his diabetes. Often when he's nearing a hypo he comes up to me and complains that his "blood sugar is fast". He catches the hypos more nowadays, though I'd rather catch them before they get that low. Evenings are difficult. He gets his last NovoRapid around seven or eight o'clock with some food, followed by a small snack just before he goes to bed. This is always guesswork, every second night we have to wake him for a bite to eat when he's crashing around midnight.

Then every other night he's stupidly high. We can repeat everything, give identical amounts of the same foods and make sure his activities match the previous nights, but the result is always a surprise. I'm going to have to measure him soon and I can just hear the drumroll... Tonight, Matthew, I'm gonna be hyper. Oh wait, no, make that a hypo. I'll be hyper in the morning, then. Grrr. It could be worse though, at least he's very good about eating/drinking in the night. P has a knack with the night feeds (to be honest, I thought they'd be over by now), he can get Eli to sup his fruit purée in two seconds flat. I get moans, cries and complaints.

Jul 26, 2010


Well there's no point with the usual "i'vebeeneversobusy"spiel, I'm clearly pretty useless when it comes to updating anything.

So we'll just get straight to the point.

Molly is still around, but her training is (still) on hold. I'm the person to blame, just haven't found the energy/time/effort/motivation/time/patience/time. I feel like I've lost the contact, she doesn't respond to my calls (=yells) and I have less patience for her tricks. I seem to be out of the house a lot more, as well, which means I'm not the boss of her anymore. P only has to look at Molly and she's sitting, lying down, baking a cake and cleaning the toilet. All I get is a cheeky glance and a view of a small tail disappearing into the woods. I do think I could get her back if I just had the time. But by the time I get home, I've got two kids screaming for attention so the poor pup is left with nothing.

And as I've mentioned a million times, for a dog of her age, she is brilliant.

We went away for ten days so we had to find a carer for Molly. The care was divided between two places. With the first lot of people, I thought it was going to be nightmarish, Molly wouldn't stop barking when ever they came to our house. But eventually, she surprised me and behaved. It was nice to hear that Molly and the two-year old boy had become best friends, napping on the sofa together.
For the remaining holiday, Molly stayed with people she knew, very well so that went smoothly. Now whether any of the humans slept with her pestering is another matter (she wouldn't sleep alone and made this very clear) but she seemed happy and made herself quite at home, completely taking over the balcony. It was a relief to be able to leave her with familiar people, a dog hotel would have destroyed the tiny amount of courage and confidence she has been able to muster in the last few months.

Tiredness and exhaustion have very much been the issue lately and there has been no time for grooming. To be honest, I don't even brush the kids hair, let alone the dog's. Molly's fine puppy hair was just beginning to change into thicker, proper coat as we left her, and she was already a tangled mess. So coming back to a matted lump was hardly a surprise. What followed was four hours of painstaking trimming, the thick mat of hair was like felt in some places, and I had to cut it off hair by hair. Now she looks like a cancer patient, even though I did try to cut it shorter everywhere else, too. No photos here, it wouldn't be fair.

And yes, I know, you're not supposed to trim Havaneses, but she is not a show dog, nor will she ever be, with her bulldog underbite and crappy owners. So comfort and ease came first. Her new horrendous hairdo coincided with the hottest summer ever, so I'm sure she was happy enough to get rid of her blanket. And as an added bonus, it's a lot easier to notice any critters or creepy crawlies hanging onto her. She's already been attacked by ticks several times and they've had a chance to grow to disgusting dimensions before I spotted them. I hate unscrewing them from the skin and watching them claw the air with their horrible little feet. The idea alone makes me itchy.

So what else. Eli. The trip went well, it was the first proper holiday after the big D diagnosis. I got a fantastic pouch to keep the insulin cool (by Frio, shameless product placement here. Unpaid, may I add.), and stocked up on the needles, cartridges, strips, the lot.
I also brought about four thousand documents with us, just to make sure there would be no problems with the sacks of needles we had to carry in our hand luggage. But no one wanted to see them, they could have not cared less about the super sharp spare syringes I unloaded onto the x-ray trays. They did insist on strip searching both of my children, made them take their shoes off and everything.

We only travelled to the UK and the Isle of Man, so finding suitable snacks and foods wasn't exactly difficult. Heinz does similar fruit pouches we use at home for night time hypos so even that was sorted. Eli was quite upset that you can't get the same range of glucose tablets in crappy old Finland as you do in the UK.
Being there reminded me how different it can be, to be actually treated like a human being: Finnish people could be called sullen, short or plain rude.
I also miss the chemists in the UK, it was great being able to take Mae to the nearest pharmacist and ask for help when her eye got infected. The pharmacist spoke to her for a couple of minutes (and she replied!), gave me some eye drops with instructions and a chocolate for Mae, after she'd promised not to rub the eye. In Finland, to get the drops (only available on prescription) would have required four hours of queuing at the health centre with a bunch of coughing, spluttering, vomiting, ill people, a grumpy nod from a doctor, who would have prescribed the eye drops without looking at the girl and some more queuing with our ill friends from the health centre, but this time at the chemist's.

Eli's diabetes is now at a stage where it makes absolutely no sense. I suppose it  never does. But all the changes with the insulins, and the fact he is a growing boy, are making it impossible to estimate anything anymore. Hypos, hypers, whatever we do. NovoRapid seems to cause weird energy peaks, he has five-minute spells of ADHD. Our boy is normally extremely calm so it's a tad scary when he goes on a ten minute trash-and-run after every meal/insulin dose.

The MiniMed was great as it helped us to estimate where the levels were going. So it was possible to prevent most extremes. Eli loved it too, he's five and into gadgets, after all. He was proudly showing it off to people and wore the meter everywhere, including strapped around his head ninja style. Here he is leaving the clinic with all the stuff. It's a shame he couldn't keep it, but we'll definitely keep begging for one so maybe, one day...

Jun 11, 2010

Gadgets and bad guts

The MiniMed was great. Fantastic. Excellent.
Shame we only had it for a week.

Inserting the sensor was a bit of a pain. We had Emla (local anaesthetic cream) and put it on the agreed spots an hour beforehand but those places (on Eli's lower back) were not suitable. Of course not. He's a skinny little thing, and it did cross my mind that there might not be any fat in his lower back, but we did as we were told and as the Medtronic instructions stated. How stupid of me.
In the end the sensor was shot into his buttock, without Eli being warned. You can imagine the screams. And yes, the word 'shot' is quite appropriate, as some of you know. The "SenSerter", the gadget used to insert the sensor, is quite a thing to show a small child, it looks a bit like a giant insect.
But in it was and we got sent home with a huge book of instructions. The monitor itself is very easy to use so we had no problems with it. The sensor and the transmitter stayed in their place and Eli didn't mind them at all. The only problem was realising that the glucose levels in the tissue rise a lot slower, so the monitor kept alarming for a while after a hypo.

But otherwise, I fell in love with the thing. I know it's not 100% reliable but it makes things so much easier. To be able to check the glucose levels in two seconds, without washing his hands, without interrupting his playing, without gathering the strips of the bus floor. And most of all, to be able to tell what was going on with the glucose levels, were they crashing or shooting up. Shame it's so incredibly expensive to buy and use.

I know it might just be that we were more conscious of his diet and exercise (we had to keep a diary of every morsel that passed his lips, as well as record his activity levels), but his glucose levels seemed to remain more consistent and under control.

But now were back to the sameoldsameold and of course, he gets a belly bug. We could really use the monitor now. Eli threw up all morning and now he won't eat or drink anything. He was fine before breakfast, so he'd already had full doses of Levemir and Actrapid. It's been a very long day, hypo after hypo after hypo, topped with ketones. I've forced sweets and juice down him, trying to explain that if he doesn't drink we have to go to the hospital. But that sounds like a threat and I want to keep the hospital on the list of nice places, not something that is used for blackmail.

I'm crap when it comes to vomit, I have a phobia of throwing up and I'm guaranteed to feel sick when someone mentions belly bugs. I even feel queasy and panicky when someone's FB status is about vomiting. So when my children get ill, my first instinct is to run out of the door. Which is pretty much what I do when my husband gets ill. I'm a lovely wife. Last time he had a sore belly, I was fretting about my oncoming (psychosomatic) queasiness.But I've been good today and pretended it's all hunky dory. Which is what you're supposed to do as the mummy.

We were in a similar situation a couple of weeks ago when Eli had to go to the dentist. The last crappy dentist had ignored the state of his tooth (under a temporary filling) and it had pretty much rotted away underneath it. Eli had toothache for months but every time we went to the dentist, she said it was fine. After a couple of sleepless nights, I took the tired boy to another dentist, who was horrified. I had to sit and watch my little boy go through a lot of needles, drills and other noisy, scary gadgets and procedures. And pretend it was all fun and games. I hate the dentist, as do most people, but I don't want my kids to find it scary. There is no reason why it should be horrible.

So what's going on with Molly? The training is still on hold, I want to see whether she will turn into a fairly normal dog. She is meeting people and other dogs, with varying success. I'm trying not to feel bad about the training not going full steam ahead, it's been stupidly hectic lately and I'm falling asleep on my feet. She has definitely learnt to pick up on Eli's discomfort, but I suppose most dogs do that. 

Now I'm off to bed, hoping for a peaceful night. For Eli, at least. We'll have to keep a close eye on his sugars and ketones. Yippee.

May 27, 2010


It's been almost a month again and I have a lot of excuses again, but no time to list them.

A lot has been going on, Molly has gotten dirtier and braver, whereas Eli's diabetes is all over the place.
The puppy training classes have gone pretty well. The idea was that she'd get used to other dogs in a familiar environment where she would feel safe. And lo and behold, she has actually played with the other puppies for a fraction of a second. We have also attended  puppy play sessions. There were two other Havaneses there and I find it hard to believe Molly was ever that cute. She did play a bit there, too.
Eli has come with us to the puppy classes as well as the play dates and that has been a big help. I suppose his presence is comforting, especially as he is happy and relaxed. Compared to me, bossing and snapping and reacting to every move Molly does.

Also happened in the last month:

- Neighbour's (BIG scary black) dog was "accidentally" let loose on Molly, setting her back a week and causing countless messes in the house. Bloody eejits.

- One of the classes was missed due to a blue tack related incident. I can reveal it was to do with a small girl's nostril and the emergency room. There was also a bonus concussion later on in the day.

- Someone has been hiding the insulins in their (various) handbags, causing an overflow of opened ampoules of insulins about the place.

                                                      - Everyone in the area knows someone in this house has diabetes, due to the trail of Accu-Chek strips we seem to leave behind us. Found about ten at the bus stop and the yard is covered in the pretty little things. I swear I put them in the bin. Almost every time.

- We have gone from the Levemir + NovoRapid combo to Levemir + Actrapid, then to Levemir + Actrapid + NovoRapid and now we just use whatever is the nearest ;)

- There has been countless night hypos and a least as many night time hypers. We've really tested the meter ranges and in 98% of cases, not a single symptom from the boy. Frustrating. And tiring.

- The Accu-Chek Mobile has been demoted to be the spare meter no. 2. It sucks the blood into some sort of a tissue paper so it appears to be more sensitive to anything else on the skin. And with a four-year old, scrubbing your hands thoroughly before every measurement is impossible. We had a reading of 33.3 with the Mobile (this with our usual on-the-road cleaning routine: wiping the finger tip with a wet tissue). After a proper scrub, it turned out to be 5.1. Back in the box it goes.

- Eli used to be immaculate and always asked whether he can eat something. Now there has been some sneaky snacking, like when I've promised him a bite of my chocolate and he's stuffed the whole bar in his mouth. I'm happy to see that, though, as that's what a child is supposed to do.

And then some good news. Due to the inconsistencies in the readings (like they are somehow abnormal...   XD ), we get a CGM monitor for a week. I think it's the Medtronic, that's what I've seen on the kids at the hospital, anyway. I'm really hoping it'll be ok. The doctor wants to put it on Eli's lower back and he's not comfortable with anything he can't see. There might be some screaming ahead.
I also hate not knowing what it feels like. They say it's just a pinch but that's what they always say. I'd rather not lie to Eli, he can take  the pain as long as he's told beforehand.

I've been really knackered after work. It's exactly what I want to do but it is exhausting. After eight hours of pure attention on the kids at school it's really difficult to give your full attention to the kids at home. I feel like a crappy mum. Especially after I don't wake up as easily in the night anymore. I used to wake up to every sigh and whimper, now I sleep through anything. Luckily I have a man who does it all without complaining. He must be exhausted after getting up 42 times every night to measure, comfort and clean up. In case I haven't mentioned it, we are both full-time students and take care of the kids at home. Now that I've been working, my studies have been non-existent but P, my husband, is still ploughing at it. And taking care of the kids. And me :) . I calculated that to get everything done, we could use 36 hour days. Easy peasy.
With this pace, we should live to the ripe old age of 45.
But all in all, it's pretty good. We're not starving and there is actually something to look forward to in the summer. We're going to the Isle of Man to see the paternal grandmother and to pine after the place. What's keeping us here at the moment is the health care. But the move is a regular plan, we've almost left this year and I'm sure it'll pop up again next year ;)

May 4, 2010

Long time no blog

But I do have a ton of excuses, the main one being work. As in I actually found some temp work and I love it. I work with autistic children, which is something I used to do in the UK. Unfortunately the work finishes soon as the schools close for the summer. But I'm hoping to continue at the same school in the autumn. Fingers crossed.

Molly's training is going nowhere at the moment. We're still doing the clicker training but the next big step is yet to come. The samples. We need to collect the hypo samples but I'm not quite sure what is the best method yet. Some people freeze the (saliva) samples, while others use freezing as a way to cleanse the containers of older scents. Go figure. What I don't want to do is to start the actual scent training with contaminated samples. I have to be sure it is the hypo Molly smells, not something else, like my scent or the scent of something I touched before collecting the sample. Nor do we want her to react just to the scent of something else in Eli's saliva. This part has to be done carefully, it'll be more difficult to correct it later if we screw it up now.

The problem I had last month of not having the hypos is long gone. Last week has been torture, we've had countless hypos, mostly at night. For those of you not familiar with the greatness of diabetes, night time hypos suck. Children rarely wake up to them and Eli is no exception. What this means we have to set alarms and measure, measure, measure. And shove carbs downs Eli's throat when he's half asleep and not in the mood for eating/drinking/communicating. We use these fruit pouches which are easy and mess-free. They are like fruit puré in a pouch, no added sugar and around 12 g of carbs a pouch. It's easy to grab one from the fridge and squeeze enough in Eli's mouth to get rid of the hypo. Even I can do this without my glasses at three in the morning, with a dog jumping against my legs. Anything that requires chewing would be a no-no, as he tends to fall asleep halfway through eating/drinking. If all this wasn't annoying enough, we also have to brush his teeth afterwards as he has started to get cavities from all the diabetes-related snacking.

But worst of all is the endless worry. Do we let him go to sleep or do we stuff more carbs in him just before bedtime, just in case? It's impossible to find the balance and trying to figure out which is worse, hyper or hypo.
Slight hyperglycemia isn't something that requires urgent correction. But if it occurs frequently, it will cause problems later on, in the form of diabetic neuropathy, for example.

The recent lack of sleep has made me more motivated to train Molly to be there for Eli and to give us some comfort. Some days the mutt does seem like a great pain in the behind but then I have to remind myself that she is still a puppy. As she is such a small dog and pretty much fully grown now, it's difficult to remember how young she actually is. Our neighbours have a labrador puppy who is the same age as Molly and watching him bounce across the yard does remind me that puppies are puppies and maybe I'm a bit harsh on Molly. After all, for her age, she does behave very well. And whenever she misbehaves, it's usually when she's bored to death and decides that the best way to get our attention is to wee on the important lecture notes or to chew on the mobile phone some idiot left on the sofa. She is a dog, after all, and her idea of playing doesn't include dressing up. Running crazily in the woods and growling at mushrooms is a lot more fun.

Tonight I'm taking Molly to her first puppy lesson. Hopefully it'll be a nice experience for her, she's still very shy with other dogs. Well, shy might be the wrong word here, she barks at everyone and everything, usually with her tail between her legs. The closest she has got to the labrador next door is letting him sniff her bum for a fraction of a second, before scampering away, leaving the poor lad ready to play but not allowed off his leash. Not fair. Then she runs around in circles, wagging her tail and yapping away. She clearly wants to play but is too scared to do it if there is less than a mile between her and the other dog. The puppy class is ran by her usual trainer and I'm hoping Molly will find enough comfort in the trainer and the familiar surroundings to actually enjoy the company of other playing puppies. We'll see.

Apr 6, 2010

Happy happy or not not..

I'm pretty good at moaning. Even when everything is perfect, I will find something wrong with the situation. My current complaint is that Eli's sugars are under control. Boo-bloody-hoo.
But this is a tad ridiculous. Eli is now on Levemir and Actrapid, NovoRapid is reserved for birthday parties and those bad parenting days. (Which we all have, so no comments, please.) So, the bg levels are great, no sudden highs or lows.

Now we have this marvellous dog and she is supposedly in training to become a hypo-alert dog. The training requires samples of highs and lows. Preferably from Eli. Thanks to Actrapid, we have none. See why I'm so stressed? Me neither.

I'm sure the situation will change soon and we'll be back to the impossible days and nights. I'm actually quite confident that by next week, I'll be tearing my hair out when nothing seems to work and nothing makes sense. In other words, things will return to normal and life will be as lovely and unpredictable as it should be for the parents of a diabetic child. And I can moan, stress and complain even more. The crease between my eyes will be deep enough to hold a pound coin.

As you are probably very interested, the other possible causes for stress this month are:
                 - lack of money
                 - lack of money
                 - lack of time
                 - lack of energy
                 - lack of money
                 - mountains of dog poo
                 - there's also the lack of  

That's better, thanks for listening or pretending to.

A word or two about the Dog. She went travelling with us this weekend and behaved immaculately. Slept in the car, did her business only at allocated locations , barked twice or thrice at big people, licked the small ones. Got muddy, ate cucumber and lost a few milk teeth.
Some idiot left the clicker at home so there was no training for a couple of days. But she (Molly, not the idiot) remembered it when as soon as we got home. She tried to jump into the fridge to get her treats when I got the clicker out. The fridge is high. I think she could train herself now.

On unrelated issues, I finally got used to the Accu-Chek Mobile. Firstly I'd like to point out that when I speak of pokers, meters or anything equipment-related, I am speaking as the mother. My angle is completely different from the usual as I'm measuring someone else's sugar. And that someone else is usually doing
something else and refusing to stay still as his mind is somewhere else.... 

I think the Accu-Chek Mobile is easier to use on yourself. If you leave the pen on the meter, the flimsiness isn't such a problem. But I had to find a way of holding the giant gadget without dropping it and I think I've found a way now. It has been handy measuring with it in awkward places but I still wouldn't leave the house without a spare meter.

One final point. Even though my blog has remained untouched, I am furious to see that they are still stealing at The bastards. At least do it in person so you don't look like an eejit republishing all the blog posts ranting about your blatant plagiarism.