Monday, July 25, 2016

Sharing and Caring - Type 1 Heart to Heart

Hello Dear Family and Friends!

Since my last post I published another book.  I have always wanted to write children's books and also contribute writing books that really help people and make a positive difference.  I decided to write a book called Can't The Highs and Lows of Raising a Type 1 Diabetic Child.

This book shares the very real, behind the scenes life of our Type 1 Diabetic Family.  I have been contacted by families around the world thanking me for writing it and sharing that, "It's the first book that really has address the grief side of Type 1 Diabetes."  Type 1 Mom.

There are helpful resources, inspirational extension writing and thinking activities, meal ideas and more in this book.  I think it really helps people to see that we are not alone in anything we are going through.  I believe that God gives us strength to grow and learn from any situation and that he carries us when we are weak.  We don't have to know everything, but we do have to learn and progress in whatever personal journey we are going through.

For my family, writing Can't gave us all a way to share our emotions, talk about Type 1 Diabetes openly, and rekindled our fire for looking into new studies, doing cross country book tours, and connecting with other families who have Type 1, Type 2 and families who are also interested in the life we are living and the changes we have made.

For us, we travel a lot and also realized the health benefits that come from homeschooling our children.  Our Type 1 son, Wyatt, was sick every week when he attended public school.  Since we have been homeschooling him, he hasn't really be sick in 3 years.  This is helping him since he hasn't needed antibiotics, his system is getting stronger, and he is able to fight off infections and germs he is exposed to by getting more rest, and we are really able to help him eat healthy to maintain better blood sugar control combining a protein, slow carb and a fast carb for his meals.

By having our own gardens and raising our own animals, our children are getting to experience small farm life, learn valuable lessons of responsibility, safety, respect, and the results of hard work, and they have plenty of creative and free play time to explore their interests and connect with friends.

We have found that we actually have more time for volunteer activities and enrichment activities such as piano, dance, scouts and socializing with friends, because we are able to work from home as authors and educational consultants, and we balance our school time, chores, free time, and are more connected as a family.

If you haven't read Can't yet, I hope that you will and that you will share it with others as a way to be inspired, see that you are capable of so much more, and that there is no challenge you can't overcome, if you are willing to try, be courageous, and have faith.

Please ask me any questions you have and I will respond.  I look forward to connecting with you!

I just signed with a publisher for my third book, so look for more updates soon!

Trina Licavoli Gunzel
Author Visits, Courses and Resources

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Type 1 Diabetes: The Silent Killer

With the recent deaths of Type 1 Diabetic diagnosed children in the news, I want to pay my respects by sharing some signs that we went through with our son when he was diagnosed.  If sharing our story helps save even one more life, it was worth it.

Wyatt was a healthy baby.  He had occasional illnesses, but usually got better quickly.  In the spring before he was diagnosed, he got pneumonia.  I seem to also remember him getting a red rash that would move around his body when he was sick, and then go away after about two weeks.  Over that same summer, he started not wanting to eat very much.  He had always been a great eater, so this was odd for him.  His stomach also seemed distended and he was constipated.  Looking back at pictures, he appears kind of puffy in his face.

My mother's instincts knew something wasn't right with my son and we had repeated visits to our doctor who sent us for all sorts of tests to try to diagnose the problem.  He suspected some type of tumor or even cancer, but nothing showed up on any scans.  This was so frustrating but NOTHING ever showed up.

Wyatt was four and had been potty trained since he was two.  That fall, he started wetting the bed and couldn't hold it when we were out, crying that he had to go to the bathroom, and we'd have to pull over on the side of the road commuting to photo shoots and run into restrooms for him.  It didn't make any sense.  He was drinking constantly so we thought maybe he was just drinking too much. We also kept asking our doctor about bladder infections, but those never showed up either.

I remember noticing sometimes that his urine would be frothy and have bubbles in it and I questioned him about drinking bath soap.  I thought that was odd, but it wasn't consistent.  Our doctor even tested Wyatt's blood sugar levels and nothing appeared out of the ordinary.

The week before Thanksgiving, Wyatt went into ketoacidosis.  He had been attending pre-school and started not feeling well the day before.  My cousin picked him up from pre-school since we were at work, and when I went to get him, he was just resting on the sofa.  He seemed like he might have been coming down with some respiratory illness and didn't seem like himself.  I remember sleeping on the floor in his room that night, so I could listen to him breath, because he was breathing pretty hard but he didn't have a fever.

The next morning, I was doing conference calls for my online class and noticed my son started to slouch over in the chair.  He was watching a show and just didn't seem right.  I called my principal and told her I had to take my son to the doctor because he was sick and we took Wyatt immediately in.  Our doctor was awesome and got our son right in because he had been suspecting something, but nothing had showed up on any test results.  When he saw Wyatt he diagnosed him immediately with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and called the hospital to admit him.  Ketoacidosis Explaination and Signs To Look For

Nobody at the hospital could believe our son had Type 1 Diabetes and they were shocked when his blood test came back over 900.  We were taken by ambulance to a larger hospital that was able to treat him and began the process of slowly having our son come back from a diabetic induced coma. It was the worst 5 days of our lives trying to learn how to take care of him before we were allowed to take him home.  We had to overcome our fear of blood, needles, and learn how to calculate carbs and insulin doses for a child afraid of shots and needles that now had to have them combined with finger pokes and doses, about 12 times per day.  It is now 7 years later and we have come a long way since that day, but we still live with high and low blood sugars that are just a part of this disease until there is a cure.  We do the best we can helping our son and want him to know how much he is loved and supported.

The every day management of Type 1 Diabetes is intense and constant.  People living with it need your support, love, and understanding.  They try not to let it stop them from doing anything, but there is extra care needed, especially for extreme exercise, eating, sleeping, doses, well...pretty much everything.  It is a life changing and life threatening condition that, if not diagnosed and treated properly, is a silent killer.  People can look fine and appear "healthy" while their organs are being damaged on the inside.

My heart and prayers go out to all the families who have lost someone to Type 1 Diabetes.  I hope sharing our story will increase awareness and add to the understanding of this silent autoimmune disease.  To all those who live and love someone with it every day, my prayers are with you for strength and courage, you are not alone.

With love,

Trina Licavoli Gunzel

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Type 1 Story, Resources, and Tips

Hello friends!
We have had a busy summer of traveling and that presents extra blessings and challenges when you are the parent of a Type 1 Diabetic.  It still surprises me how misunderstood this autoimmune disease is, so I want to share some resources and tips to help educate and encourage those living with it or who want to be supportive to loved ones who have it.

Get to a Camp!
I know people struggling to get their blood sugar levels under control and especially when someone is first diagnosed, I cannot say enough great things about the Diabetic Youth Foundation in California.  They host many activities, but we attended Camp Bearskin Meadows and it changed our lives  You learn extra tips and strategies for management that you just won't hear anywhere else. Check it out!   Diabetic Youth Foundation

Participate in a Study!
We have and still are in studies for Type 1 Diabetes.  Our son loves to participate because it helps him to feel like he is actively getting to be part of working toward a cure.  He is wearing some of the most advanced technology today that he actually got to be part of advancing through studies that he participated in at Stanford.  When people participate in studies, this helps advance technology and ultimately works toward a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.  That is our ultimate hope and prayer, but using the best technology available and really mastering how to get the best and highest use out of it really makes a difference every day.  Participating in studies helps offset some of the costs and gets you excellent care from the best doctors.

Sharing Technology!
Our son, Wyatt, uses a Medtronic 530G pump and Enlite Sensor.  These devices talk to each other and yes, he still does about 12 finger pokes a day (at $1 a pop that's a lot to just check blood sugar), but this technology allows us to see what his blood sugar is on the pump every minute.  The best feature is that it alarms if he is going "high" or "low" and will shut off giving insulin if he goes too low. These devices have to be monitored and still manually input for blood sugars and carbs, and while it's not a thinking pancreas, it IS an external tool that has two needle sites (that are typically changed out every 4-6 days) and with careful monitoring and management, allow tighter blood sugar control.  There are many different types of pumps and sensors, this is just the one we have chosen to use.  It also works great with the Sentry device which is a screen I have by my bed so I can see and hear any alarms he has overnight.  Technology is not a cure, but it helps until there is one.

What's the Deal with Blood Sugar Anyway?
In the simplest terms, Type 1 Diabetics do not have a pancreas that works to convert food to energy anymore.  Their pancreas stopped producing insulin and they almost died when they were diagnosed. Many, like our son, had a blood sugar of almost 900 and were going into a diabetic coma when they were diagnosed.  Some people have issues with their blood sugar going up or down, but it's not the same as Type 1 Diabetics.  They MUST have insulin given through either shot or pump doses, or their blood sugar will just continue to go higher and higher and destroy their organs, especially when blood sugars remain high over prolonged periods of time.  This is a life threatening condition because they run the risk of death every day, especially at night when they are sleeping, when their blood sugar tends to go very low.  If they are not given sugar to bring them up and some carbohydrates to sustain them, they will pass away.  This is especially tricky overnight, after extreme exercise which continues to lower blood sugar levels.

I want to share this in the simplest terms I can, because many have questions about Type 1 Diabetes and want to be supportive or share their ideas.  I have seen that many of the strongest people I know are Type 1 Diabetics and while some don't want you to recognize their struggle, it is very real and it is an exhausting, constant, autoimmune disease.  There is no cure, no magic drink, no special diet that fixes it.  Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are not the same and we will never stop working toward a cure, educating others, or striving to give our son the best life we can, living with this life threatening condition every day.  We have chosen a diet that combines a protein, slow carb, and fast carb to help keep his blood sugars stable, but if we are at a birthday party, yes, we let him have the cake and just give an appropriate insulin dose for it.  He is a kid and wants to be like everyone else!  It's okay!

We don't let Type 1 Diabetes keep us from doing anything, but have made some choices to improve our lives.  We noticed that climate made a difference and we needed to be in studies and have access to better doctors, so we moved. We noticed our son was sick every week at public school, so we decided to home school.  We have wrapped our business and personal lives around being available to help him because, we are his parents and want to give him the best chance at a healthy life.  Our son enjoys scouts, fishing, archery, swimming, farming, running, playing with his friends and family, reading, researching, doing service projects, playing piano, creating art, and more.  We just make sure to have his "go bag" with supplies and extra low blood sugar snacks which might include gummy snacks, juice, candy, or even a pop, with us at all times.  It is an interesting life I never thought I would be a part of, but I feel there is a reason God sent us our son and this challenge and we hope our story will help others.  We have made some wonderful friends through this journey over the past 7 years and have been blessed with awesome friends and family who have been a tremendous help.  Do finger pokes hurt and site changes hurt, yes.  Does he desensitize to the pain after thousands, yes, but it is the way he can live, so we choose to smile through the pain and do our best with this hour by hour, day by day.

Whatever you are going through, you are stronger than you know, you are exactly where you need to be, and there is a purpose for your pain.  When you embrace your life and your new reality, you can help others and I hope sharing our story will do that as well.  I am always up for answering questions and sharing any resources I can.  Type 1 Families, you are not forgotten and you are not alone.

Type 1 Strong!  :)

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Embracing YOUR Reality

Hello there!

How are you enjoying this summer heat wave?  We just came back from my husband's twenty year class reunion and I am feeling a bit sentimental, reminded of why we moved from Arizona to Missouri.  Sometimes sharing our stories helps us connect with others and I hope ours will share light and hope for anyone struggling.

Our son Wyatt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was four.  Prior to that, we had a successful photography business and so many dreams we were building.  I never thought having a child diagnosed with an autoimmune disease would change our lives so much, but I have to admit, it completely ROCKED our world.

Today I wanted to write to inspire and encourage anyone who is going through a struggle with their health.  I know at times, it can seem like there is no clear path and no light in sight.  I want to tell you that you will find peace when you embrace YOUR reality.  The sooner you embrace and come to terms with the fact that whatever life you dreamed for yourself is not possible, the sooner you can enjoy what actually IS.

I am sharing today because it has taken me seven years to come to terms with what happened to my son.  It has only been recently that I have forgiven myself, bearing the guilt of him getting diagnosed all these years.  There was no grounds for me taking this on, however, as a mother, I felt like if I could have only eaten maybe differently or slept more or stressed less, maybe this genetic autoimmune disease wouldn't have happened to MY son.  (Yes, it was absolutely ridiculous for me to have this mindset and beat myself up that my son's pancreas stopped working, but my heart was broken and I am sure the years of sleepless nights monitoring his high and low blood sugar levels contributed to my depression and frustrations).

Type 1 Diabetes is a very misunderstood autoimmune disease.  It cannot be cured only through diet and exercise.  With children, it is extremely complicated because their necessary insulin doses change as they grow.  Although they can look perfectly healthy on the outside, on the inside, their brain and organs are affected by low and high blood sugars.  We try to keep a very tight range with our son to avoid this, but it is a challenge to keep him in the 80-120 range.  It is constant, minute by minute, day by day, night after night.  He will never grow out of it, this is his new reality, and it is our job to support, love and help him with it.  It is truly a family disease and life changing condition.

Frustrated because of the lack of quality care and wanting to get our son on a pump, rather than shots, after two years, my husband and I decided to move to another state.  We really considered California since Stanford has amazing doctors and we were involved with studies there for two years, but decided to move near St. Louis where the first A1C test was invented and there was still access to clinical studies and trials to work toward a cure.

I will never forget all of the support, love, and encouragement we had from family and friends and am so thankful for so many people who showed such love and generosity to our family when we were emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially devastated by our son's diagnosis.  Wyatt is 11 years old now and works really hard to do as much as he can, but we still help him with his pump and CGM site changes, sick days, and estimating carbs.  We decided to home school because he was sick at least 2-3 days a week when he attended public school and managing his blood sugar was a nightmare, even when the school hired an assistant.

Over the last seven years, we have learned so much.  We gladly share information as Parent Type 1 Educators and will never stop working toward a cure.

I look forward to sharing more resources, tips, ideas, and stories with you as part of our adventures embracing OUR new reality.  I really believe that we are given challenges so we can be tested and learn from experiences.  Continuing to grow and wrap my head around this life I never pictured for myself, I hope our story will inspire and encourage others to see it is possible to THRIVE, not just SURVIVE whatever life throws your way.  It has been interesting seeing God's hand in all of this and I am thankful I am able to teach my children and use all of my background, training, and experience in education to help him and others, who are interested in project and thematic based learning as well. I never would have thought all of this would be leading this into an exciting new business we are starting, but being able to work with our family and embrace this 24-7 together life has been the biggest unforeseen blessing of all.  Who knows, maybe God's plan will turn out better for you than anything you ever dreamed!  Embrace YOUR Reality and see what happens!  :)

Lifting your struggle up in prayer,

Trina Licavoli Gunzel
Twitter:  @TGunzelTrina
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Educational Books and Materials

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tip #12 Finish What You Started...Give It All You've Got!

Hi there friends!  You're still here!  I don't take any days for granted anymore.  I'm happy to see you!

Well, it has been just over a year since I started this blog with the purpose of giving 12 tips of advice to encourage and motivate you to finish your goals.  I had hoped to give them over 12 days and it has averaged out more like one per month over the last year.  So...I am modeling reaching this goal by FINISHING what I started!  It's okay that it took me longer than I'd hoped, I'm just happy to be following through!

So, how has your last year gone for you? Have you reached any of the goals you set?  Is it time to rekindle that spark to achieve what you want to do this year?  You still have time!  I am thrilled with all I have accomplished and yet want to do so much more!

Highlights for me personally since May of 2014:

I published my first book which I wrote and illustrated:  Grandmas Are Gorgeous!  A Keepsake Book To Inspire And Encourage Conversations

I graduated with my Masters of Arts in Education/Teacher Leadership from the University of Phoenix

I completely finished moving into my house and organizing my art/studio space

I have toured the country with my first book participating at Book Signing Events, Shared Prizes with Fans, Volunteered for Book Readings at Libraries, Donated books to Libraries Nationally, Donated to March of Dimes, Donated for Cancer Benefits, Donated for Scouts, got to see Jan Brett in person and get a signed book, used my time energy and talents to help improve my community through Master Gardeners of the Ozarks and Started a Super Moms Club

I helped my husband plant two full gardens and did all of the prep and harvesting that goes along with that

We have been raising and hatching our own chickens, ducks, and turkeys and learning all about small farm life

I designed and taught a project based learning home school program for my pre school daughter and fourth grade son

I volunteered as the Webelo's Den Leader for my son's Cub Scout pack and attended my children's piano and dance lessons and their recitals

I have fished, swam, hiked, played soccer, football, frisbee, tag, created with sidewalk chalk, pastels, watercolors, mud, markers, pencils, pens, bubbles, and so much more

I have caught fireflies, observed butterflies, and tried not to squeal when my son has shown me every turtle, spider, and frog he has found near our pond

I have mourned the loss of dear friends, grown in my spiritual journey, and loved my family and friends as I've supported them through their own personal growth and struggles (and been healing from my own)

I have finally accepted and overcome the grief and guilt I took on since our boy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of four, and embraced the life overhaul we have undertaken ever since. My son is healthy and happy and so I am going to be, too.  I am focusing on the blessings, not the burdens and the sparkle in my heart is slowly returning

I have spent amazing memories with my closest family and friends visiting and laughed until my sides hurt (you know those best kinds of aches in your stomach and until your face hurts from smiling)

I have committed to my health and lost 20 pounds!

I have all of the illustrations and writing completed for my next two books and some other book starts in the works

I enjoyed attending MOPS (Moms of Pre Schoolers) and made many new friends around the world

I chose to be baptized as an adult and have grown in my faith as a Christian

I have reached a whole new level of peace, acceptance, growth, strength and am pretty happy about where I am in my life with a couple of years to spare before I turn 40!  I pray for many more happy years with my high school sweetheart by my side as we just celebrated our 18 year anniversary.

Those are just some of the highlights I can remember and yet All that being said, there is still so much MORE I want to do with my life!  I am sure you feel the same way!

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO..........together!  Let's encourage one another to reach for the stars, work smarter, work better, LEARN something new every day, take time to ponder the things that really matter, and truly become the best versions of ourselves.  Find YOUR strengths and true talents and put them to good use to make a positive difference in the world.  Be true to the best version of YOU!

Thank you so much for your love and support of my books and family centered life and I am so excited about sharing future creations with you.  I am looking foward to an upcoming event with my mentor Sandi Krakowski called The Author's Art to be inspired and learn more ways I can share my messages on a global level. As my sweet Dad always encouraged me to do, I hope you will also go and bloom wherever you are planted and be the change you want to see in the world.

God bless you and thank you for taking the time to be connected with me through personal experiences.


Trina Licavoli Gunzel

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Spread some sunshine with books!

Contact me for an interview, to schedule an author visit, or for a blog party!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tip #11: Set NEW Goals

Hello and Welcome to a Fresh New Start!

Bring it on 2015!  Can you believe it?  We have managed to blow WAY past the year 2000 and many of you might be thinking...what am I still doing here?  Do I have time to finish my bucket list?  Did I ever even start a bucket list?  Well, if you choose to have a list or not, I would encourage you to EMBRACE TODAY!  This is the only TODAY you will ever get!  I painted this tree to remind me of this and to think about the paths I want this year to take.  What dreams do you envision?  What would you like to do differently this year?

It is true that you will never have another day quite like today.  If there are things you want to do, why not start doing them?  Some people have enjoyed a full life of experiences and might look at themselves now and wonder how they can share all of their knowledge and lessons they've learned with others.  Well, there truly is no time like the present and maybe today will be the day you share something that really makes a difference in the life of someone else.

I have been working with local businesses, schools across the country, and interviewing to get the word about my books out.  Today, I had the opportunity to share some of my resources and learning with a friend who just published her first book.  Yes, I am busy, but making time to help someone else made a difference to her and gave me the opportunity to be refueled sharing my excitement about promotional activities and goal setting.  There are opportunities for mentorship and friendship everywhere you look.

Writing is a great way to get your thoughts out there and inspire others.  If you haven't done so yet, try writing a blog, getting that story you've had in your notebook finally published or send in a letter to the editor of your local paper.  Now more than ever, people are just a click away and if you have something worth sharing, you will get discovered by simply putting it out there and networking.

I want to encourage everyone as I wind down this list of tips, to make a fresh start this year to go after your goals and make them reality.  Whatever you decide to do in life, do it with PASSION and embrace the person you are and all the gifts and talents you have to offer this world.

I'm looking forward to hearing about what you come up with and am off to help my husband and professional photographer photograph the illustrations for my next book.

Go make those dreams reality!  I'm cheering for you!

Trina Licavoli Gunzel

Check out my books for gift ideas!  A birthday, baby shower, holiday, or just to say I'm thinking of you is a great excuse to give the keepsake book:  Grandmas Are Gorgeous!  Enjoy and thank you!

Author/Illustrator Website

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tip #10 Get Out There!


What a year this has been!  I am so excited to share that I actually did it!  I said I was going to finish my Master of Arts in Education/Teacher Leadership this year, and I completed my program at the end of October!  It feels amazing to finally be done and now that I am, I am putting more energy back into working on my next books, marketing events, book sales, and promotions.

I said this was the year for publishing and I am not sure exactly how big of an undertaking I knew I was taking on, but the biggest thing I learned as an author/illustrator is, I can be as busy as I want to be or not, depending on how much time I am willing to dedicate to my work.

For me, art is therapy for my soul.  It truly makes me happy to design, create, and share things I make or write that have meaning, relay concepts, teach, and/or spark emotions.  When I am in the artsy/crafty arena and teaching, I am getting to combine some of my true passions and the positive energy is something I just can't find any other way.

As promised, to try to encourage you in reaching your goals, I have to share these tips with you:

1.  Never give up on your passions and dreams!
2.  If there is something you truly want to do that is good for you and makes you feel like you are positively contributing, go for it!
3.  Don't be afraid to commit and put in the hard time and effort it takes to make your dreams reality.
4.  There are wonderful ways you can work from home and also be able to raise your children!  The precious time I have with my kids is going so fast and I'm not willing to lose that time with them.
5.  Work smarter, not harder - network with others, follow up on leads and contacts and enjoy each day. There is always something to be grateful for and there are so many wonderful opportunities and experiences we can share if we are willing to commit our time, energy, and talents.

Expanding my creative illustrating and love of design work, I wanted to share a few pictures of some designs I created with some sample cards.  Each one is one of a kind and I created them because ribbons and sparkle make me happy.  I worked for a card design shop in college and have always enjoyed the creating process.  Let me know if you would like to see other creations and gift ideas as I'm working on expanding a gift line to compliment my keepsake books for families and friends.

Thank you for your support, connections, and for spreading sunshine with books!  If you need 20 minutes while you are getting Thanksgiving food ready, set your kids up with this tutorial I created and they can make an ocean scene while you bake your pies.

Ocean Collage Tutorial

Here are a few of my fun card designs to get you in the mood for the holidays, too!

Thank you as always for your support!  I appreciate you liking and sharing my facebook author page:  Author/Illustrator Page for Trina Licavoli Gunzel
Signed copies of Grandmas Are Gorgeous! with a custom card make wonderful gifts for any mom, grandma, or for children as a read aloud and activities are included.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Trina Licavoli Gunzel
Contact me through my author site