I instantly liked Denise “aka Mom of Bean” when I found her online. I felt like I had found a kindred spirit: our daughters are about the same age and both use OmniPod. I invite you to get to know Denise, and then visit her blog My Sweet Bean and Her Pod.
I’d like to introduce you to Denise of My Sweet Bean and Her Pod.
Tell me something about your child.
Bean is a very empathetic soul. From a very young age she has shown deep compassion for her friends and she even comforts her sister when she gets hurt!
What is your child’s favorite 15 gram carb (or less) snack
Bean LOVES cheese! I think she would have it at every meal and snack if I’d let her!! Her favorite is the Colby-Jack snack cheese; pair that with 10 Wheat Thins (14g carb) and you have a snack fit for a Bean!
How do you manage diabetes?
Bean has been using the Omnipod insulin pump since October 2010, just over four months after diagnosis. She was on MDI before that.
We count carbs, use carb factors, and weigh/measure her food. We’ve also gotten pretty good at SWAGing, though there are times we totally miss the mark!
Bean tests her BG 8-15 times a day, depending on the day.
We are in the ‘insurance approval’ phase of getting a CGM…hoping it doesn’t take too long!!
What do you know now that you wish you had known at diagnosis
I wish I had known that Diabetes doesn’t play by the rules!
I am a rule follower at heart. If I do this, this, and this, then I expect the result to be that. So, if I count carbs, set an insulin/carb ratio, and correction factor, then I expect to see an ‘in range’ BG number!
Yeah, sooo not what actually happens! I have had to learn to “go with the flow” way more than my personalty usually allows in dealing with D. It’s been an adjustment, but a necessary one unless I want to move into a padded room!!
What has been the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge has been “educating” friends.
There is no way you can truly get what our day to day is like unless it’s your day to day as well. Those who don’t live with D, no matter how hard they try, can’t really understand it. We have a few friends who truly try to understand as best they can. They want more than ‘fine’ when they ask how we are doing.
Then there are others who either can’t or don’t want to understand. It doesn’t matter how many times they ask about something and I explain it, it just doesn’t sink in. It’s hard to find an answer to “How is she doing?” that isn’t either glossing over it all and saying “Oh, she’s doing well.” or has me spouting off information and sounding like Rainman!!
Challenging for sure, and quite eye-opening as well!
How do you and your husband maintain your relationship?
Our life is busy; add D into the mix and whoa, Nelly!
Ubergeek and I do our best to make the time for each other. It’s not an easy thing to do and we haven’t been stellar at it! But whether it’s a quick dinner together before a board meeting at school or just hanging out watching a movie On Demand after the girls are in bed, we do our best to not let too much time pass in between “us time.”
What have been your challenges sending your child to school? Triumphs?
Um…how long do you have?!?!
Bean’s school doesn’t have a full time nurse; not even a part time nurse; more like a quarter time nurse, seriously. It was work to make it work, for sure.
In a very small nutshell the year went from me (with 2-year-old Bug in tow) going everyday to oversee her doing her own testing and injecting for lunch (with an insulin pen) for about 6 weeks, to TA or Secretary supervising her doing it, to me going for a couple of weeks to train them on how the Omnipod PDM worked, to TA or Secretary trying to keep up with Bean as she flew through the screens on the PDM to bolus herself.
We fought some battles that we felt were non-negotiable (like her being able to do her own injections because she was more than able to) and chose not to fight some (like pushing for a 504 plan when the person in charge of them at the district level passed away unexpectantly).
Over all the year went well, with only one instance where a low wasn’t treated correctly. Thankfully Bean was/is on top of her own care enough that she made the right choices, even at 55!
We are looking forward to working with a new principal and new nurse (with more hours) and having a 504 in place for the coming year.
What sports/activities does your child do and how does it work with diabetes?
Bean takes ice skating and horseback riding lessons, participates in dance, and is very involved in Drama Club at school.
Ubergeek or I are always at the lessons and dance practices to keep and eye on things.
Thanks to the “extend” feature on the Omnipod, Bean was able to test and dose for her after school snack for Drama Club days before the craziness of the end of the day made it impossible for TA or Secretary to supervise her.
What vacations have you taken and how did you deal with diabetes?
We flew to Atlanta to visit family for Christmas. It’s a long trip, so in and of itself it can be challenging!
Other than having the carry on bag that was packed with D-stuff scanned three times and most of the items swabbed for explosive residue at one airport and Bean crashing to a 47 then spiking to the low 400s on the red-eye, it was a piece of cake!!
We didn’t do any pre-trip adjusting for the 4 hour time difference. I just adjusted the time on her PDM when we had our first meal at my mother’s house and it all just fell into line from there.
Have you found a babysitter, and if so, how?
We are lucky to have Ubergeek’s parents close to us and the girls love to hang out with them! They are confident enough with D-stuff and with Bean being quite independent and me writing out and explaining detailed directions with carb counts for whatever she will be eating, we feel fine leaving them for several hours. Of course, we are always reachable by phone or text!
How has diabetes affected your other child?
Bug is your typical little sister who wants to do whatever her big sister is doing….including all things D. She has wanted to test (and we’ve tested her from time to time), has asked “mine turn?” when Bean would do her shots, put toys up to her arm and pretended they were pods, and has asked on more than one occasion as we are headed out the door where her kit is. She’s even gone so far as to insist that she “can so” go to camp with Bean because she has diabetes, too!
(And, no, she doesn’t and all of her BGs so far have been “normal.”)
How do you find time for yourself?
I generally just lock myself in the bathroom!! Does that count?
I’ll build in”‘extra time” around appointments and meetings to steal some alone time. I’ll also not go to the grocery store until Ubergeek gets home so I can go by myself.
Exciting, I know, but you take what you can get!!
What have you done to help your child become independent in their own care?
We have encouraged Bean to do all that she can as she is able and willing to do it. And she has been able and willing since pretty much day two.
She does her own BG testing, would give herself injections with an insulin pen when on MDI (I would do arm injections because she couldn’t reach), and now she flies through all the screens on the PDM to give herself a bolus via the Omnipod. Granted, we are always there to supervise and she has to tell us the amount of the bolus before she hits the confirm button to deliver it, but it’s pretty much all her.
We’ve always wanted this to be “hers” and not something we were doing “to” her. When she is the one in control of when the button is pushed to prick her finger or when she was the one injecting the pen needle, it wasn’t as big of a deal as when I would do it. So, in our minds, anything to make D less of a big deal and help Bean feel more in control we were all for!
She helps with pod changes, too, but isn’t to the point where she can do one by herself yet…although I’m sure that’s not too far off!
It’s bittersweet that she is able to count carbs and do all this D stuff…she’s 7! I’m proud of her that she’s taking control of her care but at the same time I hate that she has to!
How do you deal with tough diabetes-related questions from your child?
There’s really only been one tough conversation…about a week or so after dx that involved crying on both our parts when she came to the realization that D wasn’t going anywhere and it may never be taken away from her, either through a cure or through God’s healing.
When she talks about D, we listen; when she asks about D, we do our best to answer in a way she can understand.
I know the questions will come; I hope and pray I am able to help Bean work through them.
How has diabetes affected you financially? Have you been successful in getting the insurance coverage you need?
We are blessed to have very good insurance coverage through Ubergeek’s work. We are able to pay for all of Bean’s supplies each month. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t sacrifices made in other areas, because there are. And some months things can get quite tight, but it all works out, thank God.
You live way up north in Alaska. Is there care for a child with diabetes available?
Yes, we are in Alaska. Anchorage, specifically, which is the largest city in the state. We have Target and Walmart, but no peds endo. I’m sure the one that sees adults in the clinic we go to (that doesn’t really see kids, but took Bean on as a new patient with no hesitation) would see us if we pushed for it. But, our NP and CDE do a fabulous job we haven’t seen the need to pull the endo in on anything.
(Note from Leighann: We have a Target and three Walmarts, but no peds endo!)
To get a better sense of Denise, if you haven’t seen it, you have to watch her parody video!
(E-mail subscribers click over for embedded video.)
Meet other D-Moms and D-Dads on Mondays.