Saturday, December 03, 2022

Snapshot of life without a fully functional pancreas (T1D)

The year we had Type One Diabetes (T1D) join the family is closing. 

These word prompts lend themselves to a description of our new life.

Treating low blood sugar events are a strange new part of life. 

It makes us laugh to think it’s normal that I wake my child at 4am and force him to eat some honey. 

I shudder to think of what must be happening to his teeth. 

And wonder what the effects of sleep deprivation are on a child’s development. I know its been terrible for getting schoolwork done.

If blood glucose levels drop too low for too long it is acutely dangerous.  We must keep monitoring and keep them up. We do our best to balance insulin, amount of carbs, exercise, and other factors so he doesn’t go too low. Some days, some weeks it works out. Other times we misjudge or for some unknown reason, it doesn’t balance. 

This is what a T1D person has to do every day. No days off. 

3min funny video on treating lows

Some people need to ration insulin, so thankful that is not us. 

We can eat watermelon or oatmeal or anything we like and dose insulin to cover it. We also use exercise and water to help. But if we weren’t able to use the right amount of insulin his levels would be too high for too long. This contributes to bad health in the future. 

“Keep the monitor reader near you!”

Some days feels like I’m always reminding our T1D child to carry the phone so it’s close enough for the low alarm to sound. 

On other days I try to do as much as I can, so he can be a child and not have to think about it. On one hand, we’re training him to look after himself, on the other hand, he is too young to have the burden all by himself.  One day it will be totally up to him.

My husband has spent the year embracing his role as a “Dadcreas” (Dad who tries to be a pancreas).

Our future is caregiving around the clock. I’m not feeling all of this at the moment, but it is helpful to read this, I’m too tired to work out how to express this myself: 

“HELLO, we are working around the clock over here to keep my daughter ALIVE. By ourselves. With no medical degrees. With no daily help from a doctor. WE decide how much life-saving medicine to give her all day, every day. And by the way, too much of this said life-saving medicine could KILL her! Try to wrap your head around that!” But then people look at her and see this vibrant, healthy-looking girl and they think I’m exaggerating, or worse, using my child’s illness to get attention. 

Friday, December 02, 2022

Christmas in Expatland

 Streams of uniformed children walked into school, trampling on the scattered grey snow. As I watched from my window, I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was all wrong and weird.

I knew well ahead of time that Christmas is not a public holiday in China, but I still felt surprised. School and cold weather should not be present on December 25th.

Christmas to me meant the end of the school year and the beginning of summer holidays. That was all I’d known, my entire Australian childhood. It was for family, church, and water fights.

“We live between worlds, sometimes comfortable in one, sometimes in the other, but only truly comfortable in the space between.” –Marilyn Gardner, Between Worlds

Read the rest over at A Life Overseas


Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Being sick is not a vacation

Things keep changing so quickly, it feels like there is always a lot going on. I'm using the word prompts from A Chronic Voice to capture some of our life at the moment. 

It is Water Festival/Boat rowing holiday here in Cambodia. The time of year when the river changes direction and people eat dried, pounded rice. The end of the rainy season is a great time to clean the mould off everything.

Soeun has taken a group camping for this holiday the last few years, but this year they are using our backyard for holiday fun. Lots of neighbors are busy getting ready to move, so he ended up cancelling the trip.

Finishing up an infection

It’s a relief, and kind of a surprise to say our child’s sickness is finishing. With chronic illnesses so much part of our family life, I forgot some pain could heal in a matter of days.

Our child has been in pain since Thursday. After a few days of painkillers, we went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. It's Tuesday now and the pain from the ear infection is gone. We haven’t given pain meds since Sunday.

We didn't do school last Thursday or Friday. I called in a holiday at the time, but now I'm renaming it sick days. We stopped doing school because health made it hard, not so we could be refreshed.

Easing back into homeschool after a forced medical break of many months

It's not like picking up where we left off from. That day in February when the doctors told us to rush our child to the hospital we dropped everything. We had no idea it would be over 6 months before we could get our school mornings back.

It has felt like starting from scratch again. We have not jumped into the maths program I was getting them started on at the end of 2021. In late August I had the children do half an hour each morning of a maths program we used in 2020- early 2021. It felt like going backward and forwards at the same time. On the one hand, at least we are in a daily deskwork maths routine now. On the other hand, we are not using the lessons I had planned we would be doing by now.

I was never trying to school them according to what grade they would be in if they went to school. I’m aiming to help them progress through maths and English skills, so we can't really get "behind" in school work.


Reading this book is comforting (and confronting).  If you are involved in Christian ministry, either yourself or as a supporter this is a great read, but not for the faint of heart. 

Wishing this was more obvious

Taking a medical break from school/work is not the same as a vacation/ holiday!

It sounds simple when I put it like this but I keep bumping up against this in the wrong way.

For example, we were in the hospital in February so we didn’t do homeschool that month. I was told the first little while with Type 1 in the family is intense so I thought a few months break from school was in order. March/April is our long school break/summer holiday, so we never do any school then anyway.

I tried to get started with school again in May, as that’s when I was going to start a new year anyway. But, it felt too hard. Not only were we still struggling nightly and daily with diabetes we also hadn’t had a break. While we had had a 3-month break from school, it was a time of high stress and not much sleep. I didn’t consider this when I tried to start school in May. We were exhausted, and not refreshed from our break.

I remembered back a decade ago when we were in the first years of my husband's sickness. Every break I had from work was super exhausting both physically and emotionally. For example, when I took a week of annual leave one June we had sickness all week. We spent the entire final day in the hospital, from dawn to dusk. It was a super scary day, which still impacts me even now. We got home late that night, and I turned around the next morning and went back to work. Ideally, I should have taken a break after that, but I didn’t realise that, and I don’t know if I could have organized it anyway. But I turned up for work drained. Walking straight from what I now recognise as a traumatic experience into a new term at work.

Being sick is not a vacation. I wish this was more obvious to sick people and society generally.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022


Angkor Park


These goats near the airport are the only ones I've seen in Cambodia.

We came to the end of Narnia a few days ago.


Monday, October 24, 2022

My grab and go anxiety management tools


A bit of stress occasionally might not need too much thought to live with. But what if the stress bursts in suddenly and looks like it won’t leave anytime soon?  How can you keep getting through each day when every day is overwhelming?

Recently we entered a time that seems like it will be one of prolonged stress. 

Cue anxiety. It is hard to focus and breathe. 

It's pretty intense and looks like it might go on for a while. It's been 2 months already. What tools do I have that I can just grab straight away and start using? What has been helping?

Enabling- On Anxiety Management


In normal times I wait until I have a good amount of time to go for a bike ride. I need half an hour or more to make it worth it, enough time to ride to the other side of the park.

But with anxiety threatening to overwhelm I've been taking any bits of time I can. Even if it means only 5km, and even if it’s in a hot part of the day. Even a little bit of movement makes a difference.

On intense days it means I can feel it right away. On not-so-intense days I know it’s still important. If I’m exercising regularly anxiety spikes are less fierce.

And I'm riding through trees and past lakes/moats of water so the scenery is beautiful which helps too.


What if you could calm your nervous system for free, (almost) anytime and anywhere?

At first, breathing exercises made me dizzy, but now that I know how to do them, it feels like a superpower.

Deep breathing exercises centre your nervous system. In counselling, I learnt triangle breathing and another similar one. Box breathing is another well-known method.

I felt how much I had come to rely on breathing when I found myself in the hospital earlier this year.

After rushing our child to the hospital I started to feel anxiety building up in my body. Time to breathe! But, it didn’t work with a mask on and it wasn't an option to take it off. (It was the pandemic, and we were in the ICU of a children’s hospital in Cambodia. There were at least 10 very sick, very small children in the room.)

In that situation, all I could do was notice how I felt and deal with it later.

However, in our current season, I'm able to use breathing exercises to manage anxiety. 

Other tools that have been helping include:

Sleep, nutrition, guided imagery, and books.

More on how books have helped:

Reading Narnia out loud has given me a chance to focus on a magical fictional world. While reading I’m holding the physical book in my hands and having to articulate each word. My children and I really enjoyed it. We read all 7 Narnia books over the last few months. Coincidently we just started before this anxiety began. I wrote more about our experience in these 2 posts:
We are deep in Narnia
From the Dawn of Time until the Last Battle.

I was a bit sceptical when I heard about a Christian book on anxiety, was it going to quote "Do not be anxious" at me?

I was proved wrong when I heard the author interviewed on The Pastor's Heart. In fact, the blurb did quote Philippines 4 but in a way that attracted rather than repelled me.

‘Do not be anxious about anything' says the Apostle Paul. But Paul Grimmond says saying that to an anxious person is a bit like telling an ice-cream not to melt in summer.

NB- I haven't actually read this book yet, hoping to one day. It's helping me just by its very existence.  

When the Noise won't stop
A Christian guide to dealing with anxiety 
by Paul Grimmond


There is so much hype around the issue that is triggering my anxiety. I don't want to expose myself to unnecessary triggering. I’ve been trying to take in all the relevant information and bypass the rest. Not possible to do it perfectly but a balance to strive for.

I also have to be careful about the time of day I take in information. I know it will stress me out more if it’s later in the day. If there is some big news I need to hear, my husband knows to share it with me at lunchtime rather than in the evening.


Thanks for reading. What's on your grab-and-go list? 

Head over here to read what other chronic illness bloggers wrote for these prompts: A Chronic Voice October Linkup

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Friday, October 21, 2022

Broken Blenders

 See the blade twist to a stop

See the smoke rise after the pop

And I’ve broken another blender

Blenders keep breaking; I can’t bear to get another one. Is it that I keep buying low-quality blenders? Or is it the power surges and dusty, tropical environment? I can’t remember how many blenders I’ve been through in my years living in SE Asia. I don’t have one at the moment; I can’t bring myself to buy another one. I know it’s going to break.

Friends keep leaving; I can’t bear to get to know new people. Every new friend is an embryo of a goodbye. The expat community has such a high turnover. As an Australian living in Asia, I’m in a community with people from many countries. We all live here together as foreigners. Some stay for a few months, some for a few years, and some for a few decades. At any given time, I know of someone who is gearing up to move back to their passport country.

I was finally getting to know them
Maybe enough to be a regular confidant
Then they announce they are leaving
And they give their stuff away

I was finally getting to know them
Maybe enough to tell them where we keep the passports
Then they announce they are leaving
And they give their stuff away

I was finally getting to know them
Maybe our children will grow up together
Then they announce they are leaving
And they give their stuff away

We are a mosaic of everyone we’ve ever met, so they say. A mosaic is composed of pieces of different colours and shapes arranged together to form beauty. Well, I say the content of our house is a hodgepodge of many of the people we have farewelled. Our things are a jumbled, messy mixture of exited expats’ former items.

You can read the rest of this post over at A Life Overseas- Broken Blenders

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

From the Dawn of Time Until the Last Battle

On reading Narnia out loud to my children

I've never read such a long book series in such a short amount of time and all out loud. 

It's been our school work, our holiday fun, our sick day comfort, and our escape from current stresses. That s why it's a shorter amount of time than usual, it's not like we read it only on the occasional evening.

I'm surprised by the simple, plain words Lewis uses to describe the natural world. Even though he doesn't use flowery words his sentences conjure up flowers and more. 

(Maybe because I spend time in a jungle, around bodies of water, at various times of day these images are easy for me to imagine? Bike rides in Angkor Park, at dawn, dusk, and all times in between.)

I'm also surprised by the complicated sentences. If he were writing for today's lazy smartphone readers it would be a big hurdle to getting his story into the reader's minds. 

He often starts a sentence with one idea (usually it seems, an action one of the characters is in the middle of doing) and then he adds an extra clause in brackets, before getting to the end of the idea, or explaining the final bit of action that makes the very first part if the sentence makes sense. 

Quite fun to read aloud. 

Would not work for skimming in your head. 

You would forget the start of the sentence before you got to

 the end.

Before we started I was thinking to find/make a study guide, or something to use the books as Bible lessons. But the whole thing with stories is they teach us in their own way, I thought it better not to spoon-feed but let them discover. And it has been like that! Both of our children have been noticing things and are often excited to share with us.

See also We are deep in Narnia

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Photo chronicle


We started seven of seven this week.

Had a nice ride today. Took some planning and slightly regret having to miss some things.

Ongoing Angkor Thom west gate work.

They are still working on the new bridge outside the Victory gate of Angkor Thom. That old one was quite scarey, Im glad its gone.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

 Today I finally sorted the document drawer and we finally took apart the bed of Hope. We had planned to do it in Feb

Angkor Thom West Gate (Takav)

I  have photos from this area starting June 2020. In June 2021 they started restoring it, so it looks quite different now. Collecting some photos here to remember the changes.

A few 2022 photos to start with.

2022 June

2022 June

2022 June


2022 June

2022 June

June 2020, from inside looking west at sunset

June 2020, from outside looking east

June 2020, from inside,NE

June 2020, from inside Angkor Thom

June 2020, from outside looking SE I think

June 2020, looking south

June 2020, from outside

June 2020, taken from outside, looking west, gate behind me, the road to the main road

July 2020

July 2020

July 2020, not West gate but from front of Angkor Wat

June 2021, looking east towards the west gate

June 2021, turn off from the main road, just when they started the restoration 

June 2021

And now for some more 2022 photos...