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Friday, September 30, 2011

An Answered Prayer

We are Jewish, and yesterday, we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and went to services at our synagogue.
Our synagogue offers simultaneous adult and children’s services, and Gregg and I had volunteered to serve as ushers during the children’s service. We were assigned a shift with Max’s group.
So we hung out with Max and his cohorts, and we were about to return to the adult service, when Gregg asked, “While we’re here, want to check out Jack’s group?”
“Sure, why not?” I replied and off to Jack’s group we went.
The gal, whom we’d trained in D management and who was supposed to be watching over Jack, was nowhere to be found.
So as soon as I saw him, I asked Jack, “What does your CGM say?”
He pulled Dex out of his pocket, glanced at it and said, “63 with an arrow down.”
I followed up with an actual blood test, and sure enough, he was 58. I gave him juice and rechecked fifteen minutes later. Even with the juice in his system, he was still low, and he was symptomatic.
Though Jack bounced back from the low just fine, I spent the rest of the day wondering, “What if we hadn’t been there? What if we’d returned to the adult service? What would have happened?”
We weren’t scheduled to have been with Jack’s group. We were supposed to have been with the other adults, listening to the rabbi’s sermon. Without our trained D gal around, Jack was under the supervision of high school kids, who had no idea how to handle a hypoglycemic episode. (We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again!).
Even today, I keep returning to same questions: What would have happened if we hadn’t been there? Would Jack have been able to have handled that stubborn low on his own?
I am grateful that we were there, but I have no idea really why we were there and neither does Gregg.
Now, you need to know that I don’t pray often. I send up a little prayer, when I feel it’s needed or when I’m asked or moved to do so, but that’s about it. I celebrate Jewish holidays and follow traditions; however, I’m not the most religious person. But I was feeling moved yesterday during services, thinking about the year ahead, my hopes for the year and what matters most to me.
Seems a little coincidental that we were in the right place at the right time on a day that I actually prayed for Jack’s safety and good health.
Maybe I should pray a little more often!
To all of my Jewish friends out there, l’shana tova! May the new year be sweet!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

D is for Diabeetus

I met Wilford Brimley today.
Okay, not really, but I met a man who looks and sounds just like him. I swear this guy I met could be related to Wilford Brimley. So I’m just going to nickname him Wilford.
(You all know who Wilford Brimley is, right? He’s this guy.)
We were at the tennis courts where my kids and his grandkids take lessons.
Before he’d begun playing, Jack had tested his blood sugar, and Wilford had eyed Jack, as Jack was lancing his left pinky.
A few minutes later, when Jack was on the courts, I heard, “Yer son have diabeetus?”
“He does.”
“Sheesh,” Wilford said, shaking his head. “That’s a shame.”
Um, yeah, it’s shame, but you know, it is what it is, and I can’t dwell on the negative aspects of diabetes. Quite frankly, I’m grateful my kid is alive. I’m grateful he’s able to play tennis.
Before I could respond, Wilford told me, “I got diabeetus, too.”
“Type two?” I asked.
“Yup, type two.”
“My son has type one.”
“Yeah, well, that’s usually the case when they’re that young,” he said. “Let me tell you a story. I was born in 1939, but I got a friend, who was born in 1973. She’s got diabeetus, too. Type one, like yer son. I was there the day she collapsed.”
“You mean the day she was diagnosed?” I asked.
“Yeah, the day she was diagnosed. Well, she learned to eat only small amounts of food,” he said, showing me by placing his thumb and forefinger about a quarter inch apart. “And now she’s fine. That’s what yer son’s gotta do. He’s gotta eat only small amounts of food, and he’ll be fine.”
I wanted to run. But, I am polite, so I stood there smiling, letting the conversation take its natural course. But I seriously wanted to run...far.
“You got diabeetus, too?”
“No, I don’t,” I said.
“How ‘bout other kids? You got other kids?”
“I do. They’re out there on the courts, playing tennis, too.”
“They got diabeetus?”
“No, my son is the only one in the family.”
“Well, I’ll be…You know I retired back in 2007, and I just let myself go. I gained 50 pounds. That’s why I got diabeetus, but I started a diet program today. Yer son have highs and lows?”
“He does.”
Once again, I got the head shake and “sheesh.”
“Well, you tell that fella to watch what he eats, and he’ll be fine like my friend.”
At that point, I couldn’t take it any more. “I’ll do that,” I said. “Well, you have a nice day. Enjoy watching the kids on the courts. I’m going to run an errand now.”
I took off. I had to get out of there. I didn’t want to be rude, but I couldn’t listen any longer. Jack’s tennis coach has a brother with type one (yes, we got that lucky this year!), and we’ve trained him on how to care for Jack. So I knew Jack would be okay, and besides, I wasn’t going to go far, and his coach and the head coach both have my cell number.
I drove to a shopping center a few blocks away. I went into PetSmart and bought cat food and then into the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients for tomorrow night’s dinner. And then I sat in my car, playing Words with Friends, waiting for the tennis lesson to end, watching the kids from the parking lot, because that was better than listening to Wilford ramble.
Wilford meant well, but sometimes, a D mama just doesn’t want to talk about diabeetus.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stick a fork in me.

I was just talking to a friend. She’s had problems with her feet for a number of years now, and today, she was telling me about her latest issue where she felt as though she were “being jabbed with a million needles” on the bottom of one foot.

“I’m so tired of this,” she said. “I’ve dealt with foot problems long enough. I’m done. I just want all these problems to go away.”

I can SO relate! 
Can’t you?!
Doesn’t every person who lives with diabetes, or any chronic, serious and/or life threatening health condition, feel the same?

I am done with diabetes. Stick a fork in me DONE!!!

(Don’t worry. All is well with us. In fact, our D life has been rather uneventful lately. My lack of posting, reading and commenting is only because the kids’ homework and activities are consuming me. Really it's not the activities; the kids aren't doing that much. It's Madeline’s 4th grade work that's kicking is our behinds! But, I’d like to be done with diabetes, wouldn’t you?)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Perhaps it's the sugar in the sauce.

Those numbers are beauties, aren’t they?
They came courtesy of a bowl of chicken teriyaki, which Jack enjoyed for lunch yesterday. The highs started a few hours after lunch and continued through to this morning, despite several correction doses of insulin. 
Chicken teriyaki has done this before to Jack. It ranks right up there with pizza and ice cream. It doesn’t have the fat content of pizza and ice cream, but it wreaks havoc on Jack’s blood sugar just the same. Perhaps it’s the sugar in the sauce. Perhaps it’s the bed of rice upon which the chicken sits. Perhaps it’s the combination of sugar and rice. Perhaps it contains more fat than I think it does. Perhaps it’s us with incorrect carb counting. 
Whatever it is, it stinks, because Jack loves chicken teriyaki.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Day I Forgot About Jack and His Cantaloupe

“Can I eat some of this cantaloupe?” Jack asked, while peering into the fridge.
“Sure,” I answered from across the room, standing next to Madeline, who was sitting at the kitchen table, working on her math homework, asking for help.
“Mom, I don’t get number 7,” Madeline said.
“I’ll look at it,” I offered.
Just then, Max appeared. “Will you read to me?” he asked, handing me his current favorite book, Max for President.
“Mom, my cantaloupe,” Jack reminded me. “I’m hungry. I want to eat. I just tested and I’m 113. Will you give me my shot now?”
“Mom, what about number 7? I need help. I’m stuck,” Madeline whined. “Can’t you help me, before you give Jack his shot?”
“I want to read now,” said Max, tugging on my shirt. “I’m supposed to read for homework, remember? Can’t we read now? I want to read now. I even have my book.”
“No, Max, she needs to help me first,” Madeline answered.
“No, she needs to help me first,” Jack said.
Ahhh, that’s life with three kids! It’s a good life, but I am often pulled in three different directions by three little voices all calling “Mom!” at the same time.
Most days, I can handle it. Most days, all of the kids’ needs, wants and reasonable requests are met. The mail might pile up and the laundry might wait to be folded, but my kids are taken care of.
On some days, however, I become overwhelmed, and I accidentally neglect someone or something. Earlier this week, it was Jack and his cantaloupe. I got sucked into 4th grade math homework and 1st grade reading, and I forgot about Jack and his cantaloupe. I forgot!!! Ugh!!!
After I’d finished reading to Max, a grumpy (and rightfully so) Jack, asked, “Mom, my cantaloupe, can I have it now? I’ve been waiting for hours and hours. It’s been like 7 whole hours already.”
It had only been an hour, but obviously, it had felt a lot longer to Jack.
“Oh, my gosh, Jack!” I exclaimed. “I’m so sorry! I totally forgot.”
Guilt set in. I felt horribly for making him wait. I still do. I know I’m doing my best. I know the kids are demanding and raising them would be challenging even without diabetes in our lives. I know there’s only one of me and three of them. I know I’m only human. I know mistakes happen, and I know there are worse mistakes to be made, especially when it comes to diabetes.
Nonetheless, I felt badly, and it’s still weighing on me three days later.
“You must be really hungry now. I’m truly sorry, honey,” I apologized. “I got so caught up with Madeline and Max that I forgot you were waiting for me.”
“It’s okay, mom,” Jack said. “But can I get my shot now? I want that cantaloupe.”
I was forgetful and he was forgiving.
His understanding gave me a small degree of relief, but again, I’m sitting here three days later, writing about it, because I’m bothered by the fact that I allowed myself to become distracted and therefore Jack had to suffer.
If I’d forgotten to check his homework or wash his favorite shirt, I wouldn’t feel so badly. But when it comes to his diabetes, I hate to screw up. Jack deals with enough; he doesn’t need me adding to his challenges.
Not only that, but this served as a giant reminder of the impact diabetes has had on us. Life with diabetes is about so much more than testing blood sugar, administering insulin, battling highs and lows, counting carbs, etc., etc.
When Madeline and Max are hungry, they can grab a snack, any snack, and eat. It’s not so simple for Jack. If he wants to eat something with carbs like fruit, he needs an insulin injection, and that requires me (or Gregg, but Gregg’s at work in the afternoons).
I wish life were easier for Jack.
This is one of those things that, unless you’re raising a child with diabetes, you would never know. You’d have no clue how challenging it is to stay on top of this blasted disease at all times. You’d never realize the guilt that comes from making a minor mistake. You’d take for granted the ease of doing something as simple as eating.
Life will eventually get a little least when it comes to Jack eating. As he matures and takes on more of his diabetes care, and perhaps after he switches from insulin injections to a pump, he’ll be able to administer his own insulin and eat more freely.
In the meantime, he’s stuck with me. Poor kid!

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Precious Boy

It was an early release day, and so I picked up the kids from school at 11:20 a.m.
We drove over to Gregg’s office to pick him up for a family lunch. 
In the car, we were trying to decide on a restaurant, and the kids began to squabble over the options. One wanted pizza. Another wanted a burger. The third wanted Mexican or Chinese.
“Jack should decide, because he’s the most important,” Max said.
“Oh, honey,” I said with a sigh. “He’s not the most important.”
“Well, he’s more importanter,” Max replied.
“You’re all important. No one in this family is more important than another,” I explained.
“Are you talking about my diabetes, Max?” Jack interjected.
“Yeah, I mean Jack’s more importanter, cause he has diabetes.”

Fresh out of the ocean
Huntington Beach, California
July, 2011

Sweet, sweet Max, for him, the sun rises and sets with Jack. He adores Jack. He looks up to Jack. And Jack loves his role as Max’s older brother.
The boys are two years apart in age. Max was two years old when Jack was diagnosed with diabetes. Unlike Jack and Madeline, he doesn’t remember life before diagnosis.
I can remember Max at age two, picking up foods and asking in his toddler voice, “How many cahbs is dis?”
So I think it’s only natural for my now six-year-old to understand the importance and seriousness of his brother’s condition, but ay yi yi, I don’t want him thinking that diabetes makes Jack more important than he is.
When Jack was diagnosed, he was really into super heroes. So I started calling him “my super hero.”
Around the same time, I started calling Max “my precious boy,” which was a nod to Gregg’s grandma, whom I adored and who would call her beloved grandchildren “precie.” 
I’d ask Max, “Who’s my precious boy?” He’d point to himself and proudly shout “Me!” 
I still call him that. At night, when I tuck him into bed, and when his arms are wrapped around me, I kiss his neck or cheek and whisper in his ear, “Good night, my precious boy.” He’ll always be “my precious boy,” even when he’s 52. 
And Max is irresistible. Though he’s skinny now, he was my delicious, chunky, squooshy, squeezy baby. It was hard not to hug him and smooch his chubby cheeks all day long. It’s still hard, because he’s so darn cute. I can not get enough of Max.
Not only is he a super cutie pie, he’s an all-around good kid. He’s doing really well in school. He’s a caring friend. He’s truly funny with a great sense of humor (don’t tell Jack I said this, but Max is WAY funnier than Jack). I’m so proud of him, and I tell him that all the time.

Ice cream with a praying mantis
Disney's California Adventure
July, 2011

But it seems that no matter how often I call him precious, no matter how much affection I shower upon him, no matter how much praise I give him, he’s still harboring this notion that diabetes makes Jack more important.
And that breaks my heart.
I need to work on my little Maxie boy. Apparently, he does not realize just how precious he is. Damn diabetes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Big Deal

Today, Jack came home from school with a “good slip” from P.E.

Seems like no big deal, huh? My kids come home with them all the time.
But it IS a big deal, as just shortly before he was battling this:

He never ceases to amaze me. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diabetes Art Day 2011

We had so much fun with this last year
that we decided to participate again this year.
Here is Jack’s 2011 creation:
“My Testing Fingers”

Mixed media: clay, paint, wire and beads

Influenced by over 14,000 blood sugar checks on 10 fingers in nearly 4 years