Meet Jorah!

Earlier this year, I mentioned that my family was running a fundraiser to get my newly-diagnosed, type 1 diabetic daughter a diabetic alert dog. We raised enough money to pay for the puppy through the generosity of over 50 contributors. Last month we got the call that our puppy would be ready in July, and now we are leaving tomorrow to go pick him up! We have decided to name him Jorah after a favorite Game of Thrones character. The idea is that Jorah will be like a knight sworn to protect Ada. 

I will more than likely be away from the blog for the next week or so while we are traveling and getting Jorah settled in our home. But I thought I might go over some of what has been going through my mind as I prepare for Jorah.

First, the last 2 months have been very difficult with Ada’s diabetes. She is coming out of what is called the honeymoon phase. This phase is when the pancreas–upon getting help from insulin injections–tries to keep working for a little longer and does produce some insulin. This generally lasts about 6 months. Then the pancreas basically goes caput. We are now 7 months in and have spent the last 2 months battling consistently high blood sugars because Ada wasn’t getting enough insulin. We have to slowly bump up her insulin under the supervision of her medical team, but we have been lagging behind how quickly the pancreas has been shutting down. We just made more changes yesterday. To clarify: Ada now takes 3.5 times more long-lasting insulin than she took 6 weeks ago. We have also been changing her carbohydrate ratios to deliver more short-acting insulin for the food she eats. The problem with high blood sugars is the risk for ketones, long-term complications, and Ada has been very moody for 8 weeks now. 

But, we are getting there and will keep working with her medical team until it is right. I am glad that this happened now, though, before we brought Jorah home. It will be better to train him now that we are out of the honeymoon phase and are basically injecting all of Ada’s insulin rather than working with her occasionally-functioning pancreas. Also, it would be difficult for Jorah if Ada was always high rather than usually in range. He needs a baseline to work with. So, actually, the timing couldn’t be better. I feel that the most recent changes, which we made just yesterday, will get us even closer to staying in range. 

I have been doing much better mentally over the last couple of months. Ada’s diagnosis was very hard on me. I kind of lost it for quite a while. I had to just do what I could to keep my head above water. I have been doing a good job as Ada’s pancreas, too, so I am being gentle on myself about the things I didn’t do or mistakes I made. I have kept my family together, kept my child healthy, and kept myself from getting too depressed. I did have my medication upped to help me get through the difficulties after diagnosis, and it has made a noticeable difference. 

I can’t stress how important it is to find the right medication(s) and take them as prescribed by a doctor you trust. If your meds aren’t working, you may need a change. I have struggled to find the right mix of meds, and I grow resistant to some drugs as well, meaning that I have had to start from scratch more than once to find meds that help. Right now, I have found something that works for me, and I’ll keep taking it as long as it works, knowing that it might not last forever.

I am currently looking at my house judging whether it is puppy ready. But I can only get so much done beforehand. We will bring Jorah into our home, and provide him with plenty of love. We will do our best to make him a good service dog for Ada. We wanted to give her this gift of a companion who can help her take care of herself. We are so excited to have Jorah’s help, and we are ready to work!

Thanks for all of the support, friends. 


Half Way Through

2016 has been quite a wild ride so far for the Dykes-Liners. And now it is half-way over. My initial reaction is to be grateful to see this year begin moving on. I feel like 2016 has slapped me in the face a few times already. It’s been a tough one from the beginning.

The weirdest thing happened to us on New Year’s Eve this year actually. Ada was in bed asleep, I had just gotten in bed, and Jim was getting ready for bed. Just before midnight we heard a distraught party goer walking the streets alone, shouting. We live on a busy street, it was New Year’s Eve, so whatever. Except he ended up on our front porch. He continued shouting incoherently from our porch and then began banging on the door to come in. He thought our house was his uncle’s. Jim tried to scare him off the porch by threatening to call the police. He was distraught and drunk. He seemed hurt that his uncle wouldn’t let him in. Jim called the police and they arrived in probably under 5 minutes. While we waited for them to arrive Jim tried to calmly coax the guy to go, but he just sat down on the porch and waited. The police were really cool to him and offered to take him home, but he could not give them an address. They put him in the car and left, and it was all over by midnight.

It was scary. He was probably harmless, but it was nerve wracking. Maybe it’s superstitious, but it seemed to be a bad omen for the new year. 

Two weeks later we were in the ER with Ada learning that she has type 1 diabetes. Our lives forever changed. After that I began grieving, which affected me daily for at least a couple of months. I unsteadily began trying to balance my depression and Ada’s diabetes. Our lives are really different in a lot of small, routine ways because of diabetes. And we were pretty satisfied with how things had been. But now, since diagnosis, my daughter has trouble sleeping in her own room, and she has separation anxiety. I have found it harder to keep up with housework since diabetes takes more of my time. We are so fortunate to be covered by a health plan under my husband’s work, but it is still a lot more money than we used to spend on prescriptions, and we live on an already tight budget. I’m thinking about getting a job to help us cover the rising costs of caring for a child with a chronic autoimmune disease, which seems crazy because not only does diabetes cost a lot, but it takes a fair amount of time and presence. Can you imagine finding a babysitter who you trust to dose and inject a potentially fatal medication into your child? I am Ada’s pancreas right now. I don’t really get a break.

So 2016, I’m not sad to see you turn the corner, but I can’t forget the good things that have happened so far this year. My book went from being an idea to a paperback! Ada’s diabetic alert dog is almost ready to come home! So many people have reached out to me concerning these two things. I think my facebook friends list has grown by 20% this year because people have found my blog or heard about Ada’s diagnosis. You all donated $3000 so that we could get Ada’s service puppy. I have already sold more ebooks than I planned, and my dad surprised me with the paperback version. The number of people who have reached out to me over the last 6 months has been amazing, encouraging, and a blessing. Sometimes I get so consumed with finances that I undervalue my unpaid work as a blogger and writer, but some of you have told me that I am making a difference in your fight or in the fight of a loved one. This means so much to me. It helps me keep going. It helps me keep writing and keep fighting. Paid or not, what I really want to do is help depressed people stay in the fight.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to shoo 2016 out the door, but it will end at the same pace whether I want it to or not. And that’s a relief. Good and bad, time keeps going at the same speed. Maybe the drunk man at my door on New Year’s Eve wasn’t a bad omen but a wake up call. “Hey! 2016 is about to get crazy! Hang on!” And I’m hanging on–taking my meds, working as Ada’s pancreas, writing, keeping the house livable, staying strong despite difficulty. I have failed in a lot of ways this year, but I’ve done nothing that I can’t work on. And that’s a win. 

As my little family moves into the second half of 2016, would you send us good vibes, prayers, or well wishes? 2016 seems to be full of surprises for us, and I pray we can continue to meet them with strength and grace. And maybe it is all downhill from here. But if it only gets tougher, we’ll just fight harder.

The Book is Ready!

My dad just emailed me to let me know that the print version of my book Confessions of a Chronic Depressive is now available on Amazon

I want to thank all of you who are walking this journey with me. The blog has been a major factor in my recovery and continues to help me daily. Thank you for reading. Your support helps me remember that I am not alone in this fight.