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.

Mar 27, 2010

Malfunctioning mobility

Testing bg outdoors can be challenging. Especially when there's a meter of snow and you're chasing a child in it. What tends to happen is that you:
A) drop something in the snow, the lancet pen, the strips, the meter, the lot.
B) you get to the child, open the strip bottle with cold, clumsy hands and manage to chuck the strips all over the snow,
C) you get to the child, get the strip in the meter but can't get any blood out of the small and frozen fingers. And when you do, the meter has either died or complained of EEE(rror) (Accu-Chek, please notice that sometimes you just have to measure in -15 C).

Spring is on its way, I hope, but I'm still bloody tired of having only two hands. So when we were given the chance to try the new Accu-Chek Mobile, I was relatively excited. What, no strips? We've always used the MultiClix Pen, so lancets weren't such a problem, but the roll of strips sounded fantastic.

Eli was impressed by the thing. It was quite big and bulky, but it made a whirring sound and you could see the "strip roll" turning. And even though his eyesight is perfect, he was also impressed by the bleeping function for the blind. I turned that off pretty soon, fourteen loud bleeps at 2 am is enough to wake up the neighbours. And I have no intention of letting them know we can't control Eli's blood sugars ;)

The idea itself is great, but there are a few glitches.
The test roll, for example. The meter fell on the table once, maybe a 4 cm drop. The other Accu-Chek meters have been thrown about, chewed and dropped in bowls of soup and they still work fine. However, this one has a sensitive spot. The test pad area is fine paper and as we found out, it breaks easily. And when the roll breaks, you can't use it anymore. This happened to us when we were out and of course we were stupid enough not to bring a spare roll/cassette. But luckily we were at the hospital and the nurse managed to find one. That was a pretty bad day. First we looked like the worst parents ever, not having any spares on us. Then Eli had a hypo and my bag was empty bar from painkillers. Even the hospital vending machine was empty. So we had to ask the nice nurse again.

But back to the meter. Another problem is the lid/cover for the test area. I might have weak fingers or something but I have to really ram it open. And I tend to forget to close it. The meter does remind you very politely after testing, but after browsing for previous test results and setting 'flags' and reminders, you forget about it, stick it in your bag and probably break the test roll again.

The last complaint I have is the pen. It's awfully flimsy and, for some reason, the mechanism is different from the other Accu-Chek pens. My finger wants to press the button by the numbers, but you have to click the top instead. I find this makes it difficult to get the lancet end of the pen tightly on the fingertip. Also, the other night I tried to measure Eli's blood sugar in the dark and kept wondering why I wasn't getting any blood. I came out swearing to see what was wrong with the pen and realised the tip cover had come loose.

All in all, it's not a bad meter. It has loads of fancy functions and the display is good and clear, Aviva Nano style. Maybe I'll get used to it. I am quite pleased with the lack of old strips, normally they are absolutely everywhere, in the beds, in the dogs mouth, in the washing machine...

Anyone else tried this one yet? What do you think?

Mar 20, 2010

Clickety Click Click

A word about clicker training. I had a vague idea of it before The Dog arrived but had absolutely no idea how powerful it is. I'm pretty confident I could get Molly to talk, walk and get a job just by using the clicker method.

I won't attempt to explain the ideas behind conditioning, as that would be a tad boring. But if you've never heard of Pavlov's dogs or behaviorism, have a look at Unfortunately conditioning has negative connotations and it's often thought that it must include punishments. But forget poor Alex in A Clockwork Orange, it doesn't have be like that.

Clicker training was first used for pigeons and after that, on all kinds of creatures, including bears and whales. I wouldn't recommend attempting to clicker train the bear you encounter in the woods, it might not work. The most famous (or best-selling) clicker trainer is probably Karen Pryor. Have a look at and you'll know what I mean. I actually have one of the clickers featured on the page and it's nice and subtle.
Wikipedia has summed up all the misconceptions about clicker training nicely, so if you're sat there huffing and puffing and bah humbugging, have a look at

The clicker can be used just for basic training or for something more specific. In our case, we are using it to teach Molly to (first) find the hypo scent and react to it. The idea is that in the future, she will alert us whenever Eli stinks of hypo. And that's what it probably is to a dog. Even though it is still a bit of a mystery what it is exactly animals can smell. It's under research and being taken seriously. Have a look at this article

But to put it simply, clicker training is about positive reinforcement. The dog does something that you want it to do, first by accident, later on purpose. You click the moment the wanted behaviour occurs and then follow with a treat. Sausage and cheese are Molly's favourite but it could be anything. And no, you don't end up carrying bits of liver around for the next ten years. Later on, the clicker is not needed and the reward can be verbal or just a pat. Though in Molly's case, there is no reason why we can't keep giving her the (tiny tiny) sausage pieces, especially to motivate her to wake us up in the case of night time hypos.

The equipment then. Pretty much every pet shop sells clickers, or you can just use a jar lid, like the ones they have on baby food jars. I bought one from the pet shop, the blue one in the picture. It was the quitetest they had but it's still bloody loud, hurting my ears and probably the dog's, too. I got another one from our trainer and this one has a softer click and it also clicks easier. This means I'm not late with my response, trying to jam the clicker button down. The black one in the picture is a Karen Pryor one and I recommend it if you want to buy one. And that mitt was knitted by my nana. That you can't buy.

And on other unrelated issues: it's almost April and there is still loads of snow. It's strange and annoying, I'm losing hope of ever seeing the ground again. See!

The snow also means Molly has access everywhere, being so bloody light she doesn't sink in the snow. Unlike me, trying to chase the dog with snow up to my thighs, swearing profusely. Spring and all the fresh smells make puppies go mad, humans (or me, anyway) just headachey and tired.

Mar 17, 2010


What to do when people think that 24.5 is a 'decent' reading? Somehow I disagree. And so does Eli, a weeping, pale, tired mess, begging for more water. I can't 'rage bolus' as this isn't my body but I do get the sense of just forcing it down, NOW!

Tired of the peaks and the overcompensating and measuring hourly from those poor, bruised fingertips. Eli is only four so his fingertips are tiny. And he's petrified of measuring anywhere else.
The Novopen has become the enemy, too. After hitting a sore spot a few times in the last weeks, Eli won't have any insulin unless he can examine his thighs frantically for 'the nerve spots'.

Bad day today, made worse by my dentist appointment, looming ahead :(

Molly is great, though. She's cut down on the turds and prefers real food now. Sausages drive her insane, you wouldn't think a tiny dog can jump up to the fridge. She slept in the kids' room last night and only woke them up once by stepping on their MP3 player. If you've heard 'Baby Elephant Walk',  you know it's not a lullaby.

Now she's dreaming by my feet, making a funny sound in her sleep that sounds just like a car alarm chirp.

Mar 15, 2010


Have a quick look at my blog list, found at the bottom of the page.
Just to mention a few:

There's Shiv, a young woman whose had diabetes since she was a small child.

Then there's Becky, also a young woman, but only diagnosed about year ago.

Also have a peep at Waving and Drowning, written by a mother of a type 1 child.

There's also Sam, who was diagnosed with type 1 "after throwing up over a couple of girls in my class whilst watching Oliver Twist." when she was just eight :)

You might also want to say hello to Northerner , who is running and rhyming with type 1.

I would especially recommend the blogs if you're unfamiliar with the incredible hassle type 1 diabetes causes every bloody day. I am only the mother and there are days when I feel quite confident my son will have a good life. Then there are those black days, when it all seems hopeless and I can't stop mulling over all the possible complications and problems he will have when he grows up. The worst days are those when Eli keeps asking is he going to get better soon.

And for your information, nice ladies on the street, he didn't ask this before you idiots told him that he'll get better soon. He was quite happy with his dysfunctional pancreas until complete strangers pointed out that he's ill. (Insert explicative here).

Anyway, have a look :)

The Boy

If you know Eli, you know he is a tad sensitive. Clever, beautiful and fun, but oh so sensitive. Unfortunately he takes after me. I was one of those kids who didn't really get the joke. Hiding hiccups so no one would scare you, as that would make you cry. You must know the sort. Growing up with two sisters toughened me up, though, as being kicked in the back from one direction and having porridge thrown at you from the other can make you very angry. No point crying, throw the remote at them instead ;)

Anyway, Eli has never been into raucousness, unless it was in a safe environment, with daddy, that is. A puppy, as you might know, is raucous. Even this one. See, we managed to find a puppy that fits this family perfectly. Antisocial and cautious should be written on our post box under the name. But Molly is a puppy. And puppies jump. And run. And nibble. And jump. And jump. And jump. Especially when they are very small. When the puppy sees another (human) puppy running around, squealing uncontrollably, that MUST mean they want to play. Now our human puppies do this, but only one of them wants to play. The other one squeals in pure panic, arms flailing in the air.

So we had communication issue there for a while. Eli would come out of his room in the morning, scream and run. Molly would get up and run after him. Mayhem ensued. Grumpy (= just tired, we're never normally grumpy...) parents would yell equally at all directions, hoping to gain peace and quiet. Obviously that only made it worse. It got to a point where Eli would hide on the sofas and chairs and only get onto the floor if Molly was kept away by someone. It did look like a crappy scenario, considering Molly was supposed to be Eli's assistant dog. It's difficult to assist when you're stuck in another room.

But somehow, it did get better. Molly calmed down, just ever so slightly. We were able to contact the dog in that small, thick skull and she listened. Eli calmed down, too. He realised he could ask Molly to sit or lie down, and she would. Imagine that. The routine changed and now there are two different children in the house for Molly. One is for cuddles and company, the other one for rolling on the floor and running around. Handy. The gender stereotypes don't apply here, though, as it is the little princess in her fairy wings and pretty shoes that is growling and crawling on the floor, when the Lego engineer sits and calmly plans his savings plan for the future, wearing his sister's skirt. Oh how I love them both.

It is a great feeling to connect with your dog, as cheesy as that may sound. The clicker training helped, Molly seemed to understand that she can communicate and get us to do things, too. The general screaming has diminished, though not disappeared completely. But with two under 5's, there will always be some screaming. Hopefully from now on it'll be done by the kids. Or we can at least pretend that is the case. As an adult, surely I am able to express myself in an adult manner. You'd think so, wouldn't you?

Mar 14, 2010

Must mention this

I had to write another entry today, I was so happy with the response I got in the discussion forums when I mentioned my blog. I haven't a clue what I'd do without the internet. I've been able to contact a large number of people online for support, advice and just for general ranting ;)

The internet has also been pretty much the only source of information concerning hypodogs. Organisations and private dog 'academies' are stingy with their knowledge and it can be quite disheartening trying to contact people by phone. After the 12th "I'm sorry we can't help you, but we do take Visa and Mastercard", you do start feeling like an eejit for even trying. I am only asking whether they think it's possible to hometrain a hypodog (clearly they don't...) and, if they haven't hung up by that point, do they think it's better to freeze the samples or not.

I'm really hoping the training works out and the whole thing takes off. Charities cannot provide dogs for everyone in need and if individuals have the will/the skills/the patience to at least begin training a dog, it cannot be that bad.

Hope the mothers, whose day it is today, have a fantastic day :) I still have some weeks to wait before I get coffee poured all over me in bed (not as romantic as it sounds), being in Finland, the land of awkward bank hols.


To update, this is what has happened so far.

We got a small boy. (He was followed by a small girl, who may occasionally appear in the blog, too. Usually as a distraction. A gorgeous distraction, may I add.)

The small boy got diabetes. This wasn't on our original to-do-list.

The small boy got in trouble with his lows.

We got a puppy. Not an easy task. After declining offers to buy mixed breed puppies straight from the airport in the middle of the night, we found a good breeder. She was willing to sell us one of her Havanese puppies a bit cheaper as the pup had a strong underbite, making her less likely to be the Crufts Supreme Champion. This was fine by us, as we're not really into shows anyway. Even if Molly would have been presentable enough, we would have been kicked out of any shows for being scruffy and untidy. We're students. Poor students. Poor students with children. Poor students with children and no sense of style. Enough said.
We chose this particular breed as I have some experience of Havaneses. They are also known to be extremely social, good with children (!!!!) and fairly intelligent (?). They are small dogs and relatively easy when it comes to grooming.

We searched for more information on D.A.Ds, or hypo-alert dogs, or hypodogs or diabetic assistance dogs, or whatever you want to call them. There is a lot of unofficial information online, news on research projects and discussion forums. DAD's are common in the States and considered as official assistant dogs. In the UK there are some hypodogs and experienced trainers. In Finland, the country we've managed to get stuck in, there is all of one official dog that is being trained as a hypodog. That dog is being trained in an institution and then handed 'ready' to a family of a small diabetic boy.

Concerning the training , the Americans are very quiet about their specific methods, which are supposedly 'groundbreaking' and 'unique'. This probably means they are fairly simple and executable by dog owners with the help of a trainer. But that would be quite unprofitable for the companies.
If you are considering training a hypodog, a good place to start is There are a lot of opinions on methods and particularly on the scent acquirement.

We searched for a dog trainer. And found a brilliant professional, experienced in scent training. She came to meet Molly and was greeted by a scared, shaky mess. It didn't look good. Molly was petrified of other people. Strangely, she was comfortable with children, even when there was twenty of them piled on top of her "stroking" the poor creature. But adults were huge, smelly and unpredictable. So the next step was to socialize Molly so we could at least leave the house without nervous vomiting by the post boxes.

It took a few weeks but now we have a pretty normal dog. She is comfortable with people, though a little cautious at first. She is so comfortable on public transport (we don't own a car) that the snoring begins as soon as she's curled up on the bus. I got her a carry bag which opens. It's easy to bring along and lift it on the seat next to me or on my lap, creating a safe haven anywhere. We also use it in cars, whenever we can get a lift somewhere. I secure the bag with the seat belt and the dog is safely tucked away, not pestering the driver or chewing on the handbrake. Nor would she fly through the windscreen if there was ever an accident.

Molly had her first private lesson on Friday and it looked promising. We had already begun clicker training before the lesson so she was familiar with it. I got a new clicker from the trainer, with a softer click, a lot nicer for the ears. With the help of the spanking new clicker and Molly's favourite treats, we've got as far as getting her to smell a jar. Which will eventually contain a saliva sample. Which will be collected from Eli. Who will happily stick cotton sheets in his mouth when he's hypo. Yeah, right.

We are only in the beginning and it's a loooong way before we can trust our loyal mop to wake us up in case of hypos. But there is no harm in trying. The worst case scenario is that Molly doesn't learn a thing and we end up with a pet. A pretty cute one, who loves the kids and who love her back. So it's not that bad.

Here it goes.

This is Molly, a four-month old Havanese puppy. She is pretty daft, being a puppy and all. Hopefully she will grow up to be the next Lassie, though smaller and dirtier. At the moment she is enjoying her own turds and generally, any piece of crap she can wolf down before we get to her. Despite her disgusting taste, our intention is to train her to become a hypo alert dog. This would mean that, in the future, she could smell low blood sugar - also known as hypoglycemia - and alert us about it.

This is where we come to Eli. He is four, too, but in years. And he has type 1 diabetes. Which he dislikes occasionally, asking when it'll go away. 'Never' is not the answer you want to give to your child. But hopefully the future will bring better treatments and more options. Until then, all we can do is make it easier for him.

One problem with type 1 in children are the lows and not spotting them. When a small boy is engulfed in his pile of Lego, no amount of shakes, sweats, headaches or hunger will get him out of there. Combined with sudden crashes in blood glucose levels, this can have disastrous results. The lows often happen at night so we, the adults, have to get up to check the levels to make sure Eli will still wake up in the morning. As horrible as it sounds. This is where Molly steps in in all her stinky glory. If she can A) learn to smell the lows and B) learn to alert us when the lows occur, then C) we can fix them. Easy peasy. Hopefully.

The purpose of this blog is to record Molly's training and hopefully give information to others considering training their own DAD (=the acronym sometimes used for 'Diabetic Alert Dogs').
Whether the blog will be updated on time, or at all, is another question.
Wish me luck.