Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ha, Ha, Ha, Very Funny

Just about every evening, right after dinner, William is very energetic and begs his dad to go "shoot some hoops" out in the driveway.  As young adolescents often do, the seemingly low intensity activity can morph into more competitive "someday, I'll be able to kick your butt" play.  He can't yet, but we all know it's coming.  Each day he looks like a different boy, he is growing so much.

It's not the best choice, I tell them.  Right after dinner, William has a boatload of insulin on board. Exercise right away will increase insulin sensitivity.  His blood sugar was near normal.  I advise him, but I get an oft used refrain, "Trust me, mom".  I'm again told they are just going to stand and shoot baskets.

Halfway into my cup of coffee, he comes back inside, checks, BG 64.  The continuous glucose monitor (CGM) says he is headed straight down.  I swallow "I told you so" with my next sip of coffee.  He downs a half a cup of juice with relish and heads into his computer, surprising me with voluntarily finishing up some homework.

After finishing my coffee, I go to the office to get a book, and freeze.  Ice picks of adrenaline stab me in the chest!  William seems slumped in his chair, head to the side, no movement.  Did he pass out?  WILLIAM, I say loudly.  He looks up.  All is well, but my heart pounds and I'm about to pass out myself.

With two computer monitors, he was looking at an image of text rotated 90 degrees on the right hand monitor, so he had tilted his head and was trying to read it.  That's when I walked in.  He laughed and laughed when I told him that he'd just about given me a heart attack.  "You need to put that one on Facebook."  Laughs some more.  Ha, ha, very funny. I wonder if they sell my hair dye in multi-packs?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Devil Made Me Do It

I left my son at home to represent my daughter at a meeting about an art competition.  She was out of town.  I normally won't even look at donuts while in the presence of my son.  It's not that, as a Type 1 Diabetic, he can't eat them.  He can - with a good amount of insulin for dessert.  It's just not the best choice for him.  He's into quantity more than quality these days.  But there it was in front of me - free donuts and hot coffee. And - no one was watching.

My mother saw this photo on Facebook and asked, "Is that a donut?" and I cheekily responded that it was a low carb protein bar.  One day, with my genetics, I'll have to just do coffee. But for now, I will occasionally "cheat".  Overall, I eat lower carb meals.  But boy, was that donut good! It will have to last me for a long while.

I congratulated myself that I had only one.  The lady beside me of similar age had a donut and what looked like some kind of long flattened donut covered in sugar.  I sat smugly. See, I made a wise choice (cough).

It was interesting being in the downtown office building, me in my jeans, walking past women in their power suits, coffee in one hand, leather-bound notepads in the crook of their arms.  I could have been like them, I told myself.  It's funny how after twenty four years as a stay-at-home mom, that occasionally have a twinge to my self-esteem. I could feel the power attitude in the hall.  They were important.  Then I shook my head.  So am I.  I am a pancreas today.  And I headed home to my job.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Sometimes I hear someone say something I want to save, and so I will on this post which I will update periodically.

William told me in the car that he had a "cow's foot".  What did he mean?  Well, his foot hurt after two hours of basketball and gym time.  Likely, from shoes slightly too big for him but way cool shoes.  But, a cow's foot?  Turns out, he meant that he had cramps in his toes, like a Charley horse.  (And who is Charley?)
From "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood" by Jennifer Senior:
"The researchers found that the more time fathers spent in leisure activities while they were at home, the greater their drop in cortisol [stress hormone] at the end of the day, which came as no surprise; what did come as a surprise was that this effect wasn't nearly as pronounced in mothers. So what, you might ask, _did_have a pronounced effect in mothers? Simple: Seeing their husbands do work around the house."

This confirms my long held belief that there is nothing sexier than a man doing dishes.

Dr. Who Saved His Life

It aggravated us to no end, but Dr. Who saved his life or at least his quality of life.  His refusal to use his own private bathroom was somehow linked to a Dr. Who episode he had watched. Not a fan myself, I'm unsure why the ventilation duct in the ceiling had become a horror, but he insisted on using our bathroom off of the master bedroom.  Either an alien creature or a portal to a distant world resided in his.

Not knowing anything was amiss, we groggily issued commands from the bed, "Use your own bathroom!" But then we began to notice that he was using our bathroom in the middle of the night, and with increasing frequency.  My husband asked me if I'd noticed.  The thought hadn't really coalesced until dh said something.  Likely UTI, I thought.  I promised to schedule an appointment with the pediatrician soon, but I was off to celebrate my birthday that day with my dad an hour away.

Away from daily routines, I noticed that day the trips to the bathroom, the number of drink refills, the repeated "I'm still thirsty".  And, I knew.  I knew and pushed in way down inside me.  Since, in reading many stories of diagnosis, most parents remember in blinding detail and emotion, the date, the hour, what they did that day, many were on vacation or away from home.  Perhaps just being away from routine focused us on what was happening. Sometimes, parents and doctors dismiss symptoms which mimic the flu, strep throat, or other illnesses.  A missed diagnosis can be catastrophic, deadly.  The truth lurks, like the fear in the bathroom ceiling, but closing the door and refusing to go in the room won't make it go away.  


This photo will always entitled "Before".  Before needles, before insulin, before counting every bite he eats, before worrying while he runs around like a normal kid, before watching him sleep and looking for the rise and fall of his chest, before wondering if I just made a mistake that will kill him.  We had stopped the day "before" at a state park, Big Bone Lick, and there he visited the bathroom and declared again his thirst.  Yet, that day, that day we were blissfully ignorant of what was to come.

We were lucky.  Because of Dr. Who, we caught it fairly early.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Please, if your child is sick, as a precaution, just take their blood glucose level or ask a doctor to.  The meters and strips can be purchased at any retail store.  And yes, it is overkill.  And worth it.   

Here are the other symptoms besides a confirmed high BG level:
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Sugar in urine
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Increased appetite
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness
We are all afraid to confront the monster in the ceiling but it is only in knowing that it can be tamed. We are not so afraid anymore, but life has changed.  As I heard Scott Benner say, "It won't get any easier; you'll just get better at handling it."  Someday, maybe someday, it can be cured. (And yes, now he has conquered some of his fears and uses his own bathroom.)

shown with another Dr. Who fan

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What is the cure for this?

"So, why aren't toe nails on the bottom of our feet to protect them?" my son asks in the car, the vehicle of all serious and not so serious conversations.  He must think my name is Siri and frankly, I don't know what I did without the woman in years past.  I hand him the iPhone and tell him to Google "why do humans have toe nails?" because he didn't accept my answer that they were to protect our toes.  His search reveals that toe nails might be a leftover evolutionary feature that, like the appendix, has lost usefulness.  Obviously, Siri doesn't paint hers, for my next answer was that they are decorative.

Aside from being expected to name all the constellations and know the names of all birds at the bird feeder, I try to picture my mom when I was a child, playing basketball with me.  [pause]  Nope, doesn't come to me.  My mom did not play basketball.  My son, grant you he is the only one left at home, thinks this old woman, his mother, should play basketball with him.  We live in a fairly rural area, no kids outside, and I'm evidently his playmate.  If I don't, well, there is always the computer and he knows that seeing him in front of it makes me simultaneously angry and guilty.

These roles I'm expected to play these days, it is interesting because I come from a different universe.  For example, when you were being raised, if asked to describe herself or what she "did", what did your mom say?  Mine would have said "housewife".  She was an excellent mom, don't misunderstand, but roles were a bit different.  A housewife ran the house, and children didn't have the same roles that I see today.  A woman or man staying home today to raise children are called stay-at-home moms or dads, not housewives or househusbands.  I'd never thought of it before until I heard a podcast on Fresh Air with the author of All Joy and No Fun, Jennifer Senior.  She writes about the interesting things that are happening in our culture as it relates to "the paradox of modern parenthood".

Our children, they are the focus these days.  It has become even more vivid for me now that I became William's pancreas and at-home endocrinologist after his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis in 2013.   I read a lot, searching Siri and books for answers.  Unfortunately for those with Type 1, Siri doesn't have an answer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reading Between the Lines

On Humans of New York, this jumped out at me:

"And Everest is a perfect example why. The weather can change at any moment, and even though you did everything right, and trained the correct amount, you can still fall short. And if you’re thinking of nothing but the final goal—all those years, all that effort, and all the personal growth that you achieved, becomes worthless if you don’t reach the top.”

This is Type 1 Diabetes in a nutshell.  Everyone wants the perfect blood glucose numbers, the sparkling A1C, an athletic body to show off.  We hack medical devices because #wearenotwaiting, parents waken to test their children in the middle of the night, we fight insurance companies, count carbs, inject our children over and over and over.  And sometimes, it comes down sometimes to a number:  What's your A1C?  

Despite the fact that your child and/or you might have done everything right and tried to find the solution to every question, the questions change on a daily, sometimes hourly basis like the weather on Mount Everest.  The human body is an amazing creation, able to handle complex changes with seemingly little effort - until it doesn't. Then, we are left to guess, to calculate, to take notes and read books to try to achieve it with imperfect tools.

Our A1C came back today - our "report card".  The A1C is a blood test that indicates the average blood glucose levels over the past three months.  Normal is below 5.7 and for a teen in puberty, they are happy if it is below 7.5.  So you want to know, don't you?  How did we do?  Did it go down or up?  Did Nightscout or pumping make a difference?

And I read again the paragraph above again.  We've grown.  Grown to not be afraid all the time, grown to trust each other and give in decision making that could have dire consequences if wrong. Grown to see what is really important in a life.  Learned to not be daunted by less than perfect results but to move past it to solutions. Learned to let go and realize some days, there is no answer and diabetes sucks.  Learned to function while dead tired from night testing or exercise induced lows.  Learned to live in the moment and enjoy the view from where we are.  Reaching the top isn't nearly as important as the climb.  

One day, I'm hoping that there will be no arduous climb, and there will be no reason to be on the mountain. I'll be walking to try to reach that day.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Quotes from Men

Dh:  Your hair is like a casserole.
Me:  Excuse me?
Dh:  It always looks better the second day.

In to see doctor for swollen tonsils.  I can feel them in my throat.
Doctor:  You have children?
Me:  Yes, three.
Doctor:  You breastfed?
Me:  Yes, all of them.
Doctor:  Well, you know how after you finish breastfeeding things hang a little lower...?
Me (thinking):  Did you just compare my tonsil to a boob?

Son is cleaning off table.
Dh/dad:  Son is cleaning off table??  (clutches chest)This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join ya, honey!
Son:  Who's Elizabeth?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Life as a Vampire

Each night, most of  us sleep unaware of the most interesting of things.  Vampires like me, those drawing blood regularly to check the blood glucose of a child with Type 1 Diabetes, often roam the house, zombie-like, seeking juice. I pour him a cold one (juice). He flings his arms, unaware and I'm doused with sticky liquid.  I set a timer, twenty minutes for his body, waiting for a better number.

Sometimes, I'll look at my Kindle, sometimes Facebook, looking to see who else is up.  I know the blue light might interfere with my ability to sleep, but that is a good thing.  Can't. Fall. Asleep.  So I sit on the rug waiting...reading...and learn that STINK BUGS are attracted to blue light.  One lands in my hair. Instinctively, I brush it off and use my favorite flashlight to look for it.  Mistake.  Attracted by that light, it dive bombs me.  There is something in his aggressive approach that repels me.  I don't know where he went.

At 3:00 a.m., still waiting, the electricity goes out.  Silence.  We had been warned this would happen for repairs, so I'm thinking it might be awhile before it restarts.  I marvel at the silence, at how very quiet - BOOM - everything rushes back on including my son's two fish tanks which now seem unbearably loud.

This event wakes our elderly dog, who decides this would be a great time to go out to the bathroom.  Ignoring this request has lead to nasty surprises in the past, so we head downstairs. All of the considerable number of animals are confused, and decide it must be time to get up and go outside. As for Daisy. does she run out, pee and come back?  No, she goes on a walkabout.  I cross my fingers because I can smell skunk in the air.  Fifteen minutes go by.

She returns with an air of total innocence

I observe things like the way my son sleeps, always on the side we've placed his continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor.  (If slept on a long time, it can produce a false low due to compression.)  His cat, who likes only him, comes by to see what I'm doing to her boy.  She never sleeps at night.  She licks his fingers of blood smears, and then begins to bite his legs.  I wonder to myself if I could train her to be a diabetic alert cat, but muse that cats are too unpredictable.  She would only work when she felt like it.  

"Don't mess with me" face

After living another whole day, while everyone sleeps, I return to my now cold bed, but find a cat in the middle and it is warm under him.  I move him over and take his spot.  Time to grab an hour or two for myself.


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