Finally, I’m back!
It’s been a hectic few months. It's been one thing after another over here, some of it good, some of it bad, all of it overwhelming – holidays, birthdays, winter break, a stomach bug that traveled through the house, school stuff, Cub Scout stuff, Girl Scout stuff, Madeline’s performance in a play, other kid activities, visitors from out of town, another birthday, more school stuff, super stressful school stuff, more kids’ activities, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.
I have had blog posts swirling in my head. I have even gone so far as to start writing, but I haven’t had it in me to complete a blog entry or read other diabetes-related blogs, because so much of what’s been happening has involved diabetes.
The stomach bug did a number on Jack. Vomiting, large ketones and low blood sugars make for a scary combination. We were one tablespoon of Sprite away from entering the hospital (more on that in another post).
Then he had strep throat a couple of times, before the flu hit, bringing with it a week of unrelenting high fevers and a deep, persistent cough. Yesterday brought an ear infection. Each illness has wreaked havoc on his numbers.
On top of the health issues, school issues surrounding diabetes had become increasingly worse, so much so that we had to switch Jack’s teacher and place him in another class. Scratch that. We had to battle to ensure his safety at school. The process was upsetting, ridiculous and stressful. And then we had to train a new teacher. (I need to tell you, though, that it was all worth it. His new teacher is fantastic.)
I’ve had a bad case of diabetes overload. There’s been no calm. There’s just been one stressful event after another. When I would start to write, I would drift off and think about what to make for dinner or Jack’s numbers or the tasks on my mile-long to-do list. In retrospect, I realize I was trying to escape. I needed the escape. When I would read other DOC blogs, I would feel as though they were hitting too close to home. They would overwhelm me. I couldn't handle any more diabetes than I had already been already dealing with.
I have felt fatigued. I am normally a go-go-go, no-breaks-needed kind of a girl. Lately, I’ve been sluggish, taking care of the necessities only, though there has seemed to be a lot of necessities with how crazy busy we’ve been. I’ve needed naps, and I generally never take naps. I’ve felt tired to the point where I’ve wondered whether I was clinically depressed (I wasn’t) or whether my thyroid meds needed to be adjusted (they didn’t). Still, I was so worn down that I ended up with bronchitis and a touch of pneumonia. I spent a week in bed when both of my boys had the flu. All three of us were sick simultaneously. Imagine having to manage needy boys (and rightfully needy, poor kiddos), high fevers, high blood sugars and ketones, when you cough incessantly, can barely breathe, can barely lift your head off the pillow and just want to sleep. Pure misery! I hadn’t been that sick in years. I’m sure it was the result of stress.
Fortunately, life is mostly back to normal now. We still seem super busy (will it ever end?!), but I am feeling much better, more energetic and almost back to my old self. Our days are calmer, too. The unnerving events have subsided, thank G-d, and this week, a conversation made me realize that my blogging break must end.
I was at the dentist’s office, and I had just been called out of the waiting room for my appointment.
As I walked into the exam area, the dentist pointed toward a hook on the wall and offered, “You can hang up your purse over there.”
“Thanks,” I replied, pulling my cell phone out of my purse before setting it on the hook.
“Are you expecting a call?” Dr. S asked. I don’t think he was being nosy. I think he was just making conversation.
“No, it’s just that my kids’ school nurse may call.”
“There’s so much going around right now. Is one of your kids not feeling well?”
“Fortunately, everyone’s healthy, but my son has diabetes. So the school nurse calls me often.”
The dentist looked surprised.
“Really? Is his diabetes uncontrolled?” he asked.
“No, it’s under control, but it’s type 1 diabetes. Anything can happen at any time. Plus, there are often judgment calls when it comes to his insulin dose, and the nurse is kind enough to run those by me.”
Dr. S looked confused, as though nothing I’d just said made sense, because why would the nurse call me regularly, if Jack’s diabetes were truly under control?
“Oh, okay,” he said, shrugging his shoulders and then moving on. “Well, I want to start today’s appointment with some x-rays…”
The next thing I knew, I was draped with a lead apron and asked to “open wide.”
The conversation wasn’t sitting well with me. My dentist meant no harm. It was clear he just didn’t get it, but he’s a nice guy, and he wanted to do his dental thing, not learn about my son’s condition. I, however, wanted to yank the x-ray film holder out of my mouth and explain type 1 diabetes. I wanted to clear the confusion. I wanted Dr. S to get it. Instead I sat there, being a compliant patient and ruminating over the conversation.
Further bugging me was that the conversation had followed another that I’d had just a couple of days before. My friend J had told me how she had told another friend about Jack, how he has diabetes and how her family participates in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes with us every year. J’s friend then inquired about Jack. “Is he overweight?”
“No, he’s not overweight,” J said. “Actually, he’s thin.”
“Does he eat a lot of sugar or junk food?” the friend continued.
“No, his mom [meaning me] feeds him well,” J explained. “He has type 1 diabetes, not type 2. His diabetes has nothing to do with eating too much sugar, a lack of exercise or being overweight. It’s an autoimmune disease.”
J tried to educate her friend, but her friend was not interested, which annoyed J. “I now understand what you must go through all the time,” she said to me. “It was so frustrating to try to explain the differences between type 1 and type 2, only to have my explanation ignored by someone who thought she’d already known it all.”
I appreciated her empathy and I knew exactly what she’d meant. It is SO frustrating, and those conversations come only when you’re actually given the chance to explain. Half of the time, people don’t want to listen at all…like my dentist, who had no time for or interest in “small talk” with his tight schedule of patients to follow.
I realize that not everyone wants to be educated about diabetes. I realize I’m up against the media, which tends to lump all types of diabetes into one condition that can be prevented or controlled, if not reversed, with diet and exercise. But it’s as if we who live with type 1 must often don armor in order to deflect ignorant commentary.
We must also educate. Or at least, I feel it’s my own personal obligation to educate others and advocate for my son.
Jack should not have to grow up with misinformed individuals judging him. Diabetes is tough enough as it is; others’ ignorance should not add to the challenges of the disease. He did nothing to cause his condition. I did nothing to cause his condition. It’s just an unfortunate situation.
So I’m back…back to blogging about diabetes with the hope that others will learn from my writing, and I will thereby make a difference.