Waltzing the Dragon is Canada’s key online resource for the Type 1 Diabetes community, addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of living with diabetes. We believe the key to living well with diabetes is empowering individuals with type 1 diabetes and their families to make choices that fit best for you, at different stages of your experience with diabetes (beginner through advanced), by presenting a range of available options.
What is the goal of WaltzingTheDragon.ca?
Our Mission: To educate, equip and encourage families dealing with Type 1 Diabetes by providing information that is current, comprehensive, evidence-based, and practical… until there’s a cure.
Why was WaltzingTheDragon.ca created?
As parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes, in the beginning of our journey we each researched how to best manage the diabetes dragon that had entered our families’ lives. But we became overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. We encountered dozens of books and articles and websites and blogs and newsletters and organizations, each sharing a different piece of the puzzle. We wondered: is that information outdated? What information is relevant for Type 1 (vs. Type 2) Diabetes? What information can we trust?
We day-dreamed: wouldn’t it be great if there was ONE place we could go for a condensed but comprehensive view of Type 1 Diabetes, with information to help us live through the day-to-day challenges?
We wanted to create an ever-evolving resource to share the information we had learned (and continue to learn) through our experiences, from other parents and members of the T1D community, from the professionals we encountered – the information that has made a difference in our lives. Waltzing the Dragon was born as a result.
Who is WaltzingTheDragon.ca?
Waltzing the Dragon is operated by a D-Mom, Michelle MacPhee.
I live in Calgary, Alberta, with my husband, Dean and our two children: a videogame-loving son who is in junior high and has Type 1 Diabetes; and an adventurous daughter who is just entering junior high and does not have diabetes. Our son was diagnosed in 2008 at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, when he was just over a year old; he received his insulin by injection for the first two years, then soon after his third birthday we switched to insulin pump therapy (in May, 2010). Max got his first Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system in 2011 at the age of four. Since then, we have tried multiple pumps and all of the sensor-based glucose monitoring systems. As I write this (2021) my daughter is now 12 years old, and my T1D son is 14. Life is good!
Despite the ups and downs (and, as you may know firsthand, there are plenty!), we feel blessed that our son is healthy and happy – despite diabetes. My game-plan as a diabetes parent is to gather information, to try out different strategies and see what works best for my son as an individual, so that I can do my best to care for my son and to support him as he takes on that self-care, now and in the years to come.
My professional life before diabetes largely revolved around children and family functioning. Holding a Masters degree in Applied Psychology with a major in Applied Behavioural Analysis, I previously worked with children with autism and their families in home-based social-educational programs. In that capacity, I learned invaluable lessons from the many parents and children I met along the way, lessons which I bring forward to equip families (including my own) for the dance: it’s ok to be different; everyone has something they have to deal with in life; hope can get a family through dark days; and most of all… there’s a way under, over, or around any obstacle if we work together.
My goal for Waltzing the Dragon is to provide other families with the facts needed to make informed decisions regarding what’s best for their children, as well as offer some suggestions on how both parents and children can learn to cope, emotionally and physically, with this diabetes dragon. Through this website, I’m privileged to be able to share my family’s experiences living with diabetes.
More about Michelle’s family’s journey with the diabetes dragon here.
Waltzing the Dragon's History
WaltzingTheDragon.ca was co-founded in 2011 by two parents of children with type 1 diabetes from Alberta, Canada: Michelle MacPhee (a mom of two then-preschoolers: a son who has had type 1 diabetes since 2008, and a daughter) and Danielle Krause (a former Registered Nurse, and a mother of three teens at the time, including a son who has had type 1 diabetes since 2001).
In 2016, Danielle left Waltzing the Dragon in order to pursue a career in health coaching, but her incredible contributions to Waltzing the Dragon live on in its rich content. Michelle continued on the path they had created together five years earlier, bringing (to the D-community in Canada and beyond) the best of what she learns from others living with diabetes.
Why the name “Waltzing The Dragon”?
Anyone whose life has been affected by diabetes will recognize the dragon: diabetes can be fearsome and overwhelmingly large; it can scorch us when it breathes its characteristic fire; we would love to ride in on a sturdy steed and slay the dragon so that our children, our families, don’t have to live with this troublesome beast. And yet what we sometimes fail to recognize is that, even though we cannot slay the dragon (there is not yet a cure for type 1 diabetes), it is tameable. We cannot tame it by burying our head in the sand and pretending it does not exist. We cannot tame it by screaming and yelling and stomping our feet and rebelling against it. Instead we need to learn to interact positively with it, to take control calmly and confidently… to dance with it.
A “waltz” is defined as a smooth dance, with continuous turns and a characteristic rise and fall. (Sound familiar?) Sometimes it feels like the diabetes dance is never-ending: we have to keep on moving, keep checking blood glucose (through the day and through the night), keep counting carbs, keep learning more and analyzing numbers and watching and keeping our kids safe. WaltzingTheDragon.ca strives to make the dance a little easier by sharing with you the science of effective diabetes care, as well as the art that makes one truly successful.
I am so grateful to the following, without whom WaltzingTheDragon.ca would not exist:
God, for putting key people and experiences in my path when it looked like WTD was lost.
Danielle Krause for being my partner in crime in WTD’s early years, for committing your vast knowledge and experience to virtual paper, for helping develop WTD together from just an idea. Megan, Tyler, Grant, Denise, Stephen, Lori, Sue L., for adding your key skills and perspectives to get WTD off the ground.
Cesar Chung – without you I could not and would not have rebuilt this website. You shared your experience and saw around corners that I could not have anticipated… thank you for your friendship , guidance, and generosity.
Sue Dupras for walking with me and creating the Dragon News digital newsletter, for several months when I needed it most.
Amanda and the Digital Link team for building this amazing new website… thank you for sharing your expertise, for your generosity, and for sticking in there to triumph over the obstacles.
Jane Templeton, Allison Husband, Deanna Langille, Lesley McCoy, and the rest of the team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic. From the beginning you have reviewed articles, shared your experience and expertise… thank you for helping me to see diabetes care from many perspectives.
Joe Solowiejczyk for making me cry (and setting me on my path to acceptance); for sharing your wisdom and first-hand knowledge in the Coping & Family Life section.
Michael Watts for joining this project with enthusiasm right from the start, and for sharing your knowledge and experience in multiple Parenting articles.
The many contributors who have added their expertise and wisdom to WTD’s library of articles: Rick Baumgartner (DTC), Michelle I. (school), Dr. Greg Schoepp (Teaching Resilience), Allison Husband (Insulin Adjustment, Xylitots), Dr. Carol Huang (Growing Up with Diabetes), Dan Poole and Samantha (sharing their personal stories about life with type 1 diabetes), Lorraine Anderson and Shannon Cassar (Fat-Protein Units), Sandra Lueders (Insulin Pumps), Melany Hellstern at insulinpumps.ca (insulin pumps and infusion sets), Dr. Dan Metzger and BC Children’s Hospital (educational resources on insulin adjustment and drugs/alcohol), Lesley McCoy and the dietitians at Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic (Halloween Carb Handouts year after year), the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic (Caring for a Child with Type 1 Diabetes handouts), and Dr. Daniele Pacaud (thank you for guiding our family in all things diabetes, much of which has appeared on this website).
Stephen Burns at Bennett Jones for sharing your time and legal expertise.
Julide Peace for your creativity and the marathon brainstorming session that created our name, Waltzing the Dragon.
Ward Clark, Joe Solowiejczyk, Lorraine Anderson and Sandy Struss for supporting this project with encouragement and practical ideas, right from the start.
My mom for being my unwavering cheering squad and Facebook sharer.
Dean, for supporting this project with everything from cheering me on, to creating graphics, to making supper while I click away at the computer.
Max and Gemma, who share their mom so that I can share our experience with others, and who (as a T1D and his sister) bravely face the diabetes dragon every day – You make us proud.
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