Did you know that more than 9 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes (according to the Canadian Diabetes Association)? Think about that. Considering Canada has a population of just over 35 million people, that’s a huge number of fellow Canadians who live with diabetes. Chances are you know someone who has diabetes. I do.
When I was a young child, my family lived next door to a woman named Audrey, who was a diabetic. I didn’t understand much about diabetes back then, but what I did understand was that the nice lady next door lived with an illness that had made her blind, sometimes made her “pass out” (diabetic coma), caused her to have to weigh all her meals on a scale before eating them, and worst of all (in my opinion), made it necessary to inject herself each day with big, nasty needles.
Audrey was a 60-something married woman, with a son who was married and no longer living at home when I was a kid. Audrey spent most of her time at home while her husband worked, and would often ask me to come over to visit with her. I remember many visits with Audrey. Being the selfish kid that I was, I gladly accepted because I knew a visit with Audrey meant a treat of digestive cookies and a can of Fresca for me. These goodies were staples for Audrey, as they were both “diabetic-friendly” and “sugar-free”. I liked them simply because they were “different” and not something I would get at home. So there was Audrey, a lonely housewife, sipping tea, eating digestive cookies and chatting with a 7-year-old child whose only real interest wasn’t that chat, but eating the special cookies and pop that went hand-in-hand with every one of those chats. I think back and feel pangs of guilt over my motive for those visits, but then I realize that, as a result of all those little chats, Audrey ended up providing me with a good understanding of what it’s like to live with diabetes, and to have compassion for those that do.
Since then, I’ve come to know a few people in my life who live with diabetes. As a young adult, I had a diabetic friend who, because of age/immaturity, took his health for granted, often forgetting to take his insulin on time, thanks to too much partying or some other excuse. This caused his family great stress, and resulted in numerous visits to the emergency room after he would fall into a diabetic coma.
One of my long-time online supporters and friend of mine, Karry, has a daughter who lives with diabetes. In a few short years since I have known, Karry, her daughter has been hospitalized at least 3 times that I can remember, thanks to her diabetes. In her case, Karry’s daughter is not like my former “irresponsible” friend. Karry keeps a close eye on her daughter’s health, making sure she takes care of herself and gets her required insulin when needed. That’s the nasty thing about diabetes though. No matter how well you manage your diabetes, it can continue to take a huge toll on your body.
Some facts from the Canadian Diabetes website:
There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood. Approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
The remaining 90 per cent have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.
A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects approximately 2 to 4 per cent of all pregnancies (in the non-Aboriginal population) and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.
Prediabetes refers to a condition where a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms of diabetes include the following:
Weight change (gain or loss)
Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
Frequent or recurring infections
Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
It is important to recognize, however, that many people who have type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms.
There have been great advances in the treatment of diabetes since the 1970’s when I used to visit with Audrey. Much of this is thanks to many of you who have helped the Canadian Diabetes Association by donating funds or even used clothing and household goods through their Clothesline pick up service.
If you live in the Ottawa area, there’s another way you can help. On Saturday, January 18, 2014, you can join me and your fellow Ottawans at the GOODkarma Project, a fundraiser for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Being held at the Shenkman Arts Centre, this fundraiser is being organized by my wonderful niece, Jennifer.
A few months ago, Jennifer heard about one of Ottawa’s popular radio stations, HOT 89.9, and their “Walk With Rush And Team Diabetes” event ~ a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Jennifer decided she wanted to take part in this great fundraising experience. Not only was this a great way to help Jennifer reach her personal goal of running in a half marathon but, in the process, she could help raise thousands of dollars for the 9 million+ Canadians who struggle to live with diabetes each day.
For Jennifer, the catch to attending this Edinburgh Marathon Festival in May 2014 is the fact that she needs to raise at least $6,000 – herself. That’s a lofty goal for anyone trying to raise funds for charity these days. It’s even harder at this time of year when most of us are already tapped out after Christmas/holiday spending and donating. Jennifer hasn’t let this stop her though. She’s well on her way to raising that 6K. She has already raised over $3,000 to date.
Here’s what Jennifer says about her fundraising efforts for the Canadian Diabetes Association:
“As a part of Team Diabetes Canada; In May, I am travelling to Scotland to run my first ever half marathon in support of the cause. My personal goal is to raise $6100.00. People all over the world are effected by some form of Diabetes. It is a disease that does not discriminate. No matter your age, race, sex, etc. My goal is not only to raise funds, but to also create awareness of the disease in order to help prevent it, as well as educate those learning to cope with it.”
When Jennifer signed on with HOT 89.9 and Team Diabetes, she decided right away that she needed to go “above and beyond” when it came to her fundraising activities. So being the hard-worker/social butterfly/go-getter that she is, Jennifer decided to host the GOODkarma Project, a night of fun and fundraising at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
The GOODkarma Project will feature a silent auction full of fantastic items generously donated by companies from across Canada. Auction items will include:
A Molson Canadian Ottawa Senators Game Package
A VIA Rail Travel Package For 2 To Montreal
A Farm Boy Gift Basket
A Body Shop Gift Basket
Merchandise From Third World Bazaar
Tickets To The Museum Of War & The Museum Of Civilization
A Reef Collection Pendant Necklace From Alexandra Mosher Studio Jewellery in Bermuda
A Hawkestone Soap Company Gift Package
Plus so many more great items to bid on!!
So be sure to come join me for a night of fun at the GOODkarma Project fundraiser for the Canadian Diabetes Association! In addition to the silent auction, there will be some great live music and a cash bar.
What: The GOODkarma Project (fundraiser for Diabetes)
When: Saturday, January 18th 2014 from 7PM to 10:30PM
Cost: $15 Per Person
Where: Shenkman Arts Centre ~ Ottawa, Ontario
Email for tickets/info: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to sponsor Jennifer directly, you may do so by visiting the Team Diabetes Canada website.
Click on the “Pledge” button and search for Jennifer Extence.
Any donations of $15.00 or more will receive a tax receipt.
If you can’t make it to the GOODkarma Project, but know someone who might like to attend, please share this post with them.
Thanks for helping to support friends like Audrey, Karry and those close to you, who struggle daily with Diabetes.
Disclosure: Canadian Blog House did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.