Sunday, March 29, 2015

Full Circle

I had never known more anguish, never known more sadness, and never known more loneliness than the day I lost Ryan.  I remember those early days clearly, although I hesitate to bring myself there fully. It’s an indescribable feeling.  Helplessness and nausea are the only words that come to mind. In the moment all I could do was concentrate on lifting my foot and then positioning it in front of me. One feeble footstep at a time. One minute at a time. Everything baby steps. Everything frightening.

The process of losing a beloved spouse is a horrifying one, and one I only bring up because a dear friend lost her husband last week. Our correspondence brings me back to those helpless, nauseous moments. I continue only to glance at the memories though; I won’t completely succumb to them.

Looking back at myself just a couple years ago, and then seeing me now, I wonder how I got here in one piece. It was a process. Surviving wasn’t achieved by anything special inside of me. It was my ability to endure that was my best quality; getting up in the morning my best talent. I remember vomiting every morning from anxiety and then pulling myself together enough to leave my bedroom to be a mother to the boys. It was their faces that gave me purpose, and ultimately got me through the worst of it.

And now here I am, a few years later, engaged to another man, and embarking on a new adventure that should have me terrified, but instead brings me only waves of peace and joy.

I suppose I just need to publically acknowledge the miracle. How I have been blessed with two men who love me fully, for who I am, warts and all…how?

Miracle. It can only be that.

My fiancé thinks he was sent to care for me, but I feel like I was sent to care for him. We have both been through hell, it’s only by the miracle that we’re able to account for the peace we feel when we are together. He is my rest. When I am with him my worries disappear and I’m able to bask in a happy glow of sureness.

Life throws curveballs. Losing Ryan was a brutal one. Finding Doug was a brilliantly surprising one.

I guess Forrest Gump was right.

But my heart tugs tonight for my dear friend, Tara. The ache. I’ll never forget the ache.

Tara is a fellow D Mama. Dov, her husband, had many super powers, one being a badass D Dad.  His long battle with colon cancer at such a young age seems so tragic, but Dov made it anything but that. He made it magic. It sounds ridiculous, but he did…and I’m forever in his debt for showing me that magic lies within our own selves. No one, and no disease, can take that magic away from us.  It’s a lesson that can change lives. Ponder it for yourself, I beg of you.

If you would like to help Tara and her children, send her some love via this link:


There is so much worry on Tara’s plate right now. If we can take away some of that weight, I’m sure we’ll feel some of that ol’ Dov magic start to stir inside of us. I ask you, which one of us couldn’t use a little more magic in their life?

God Speed, Dov Siporin.

You are loved.

And Tara, I hope through all of this you will find as I did, that same nagging feeling in your heart that says, yes, everything…some day…some way…is going to be ok.


CFD.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Poke.

I’m not sure how the most optimistic person in the world can have nights like this, but it stands to reason that even the strong have their Achilles heal, and mine seems to be fear of failure.

Which is hard for me to wrap my head around when I have a solid belief that everything is going to be ok.

Maybe my problem is I’m fretting about the details and failing to stand back to see the big picture.

Perspective. Haven’t I written about perspective a million times?

“Yes, Meri. You have.” Say every single person reading this right now.

How do I escape the fear? It haunts me, it eats at me, it pokes me like a stubborn child.

Poke.

Poke.

Poke.

Maybe it has always been poking, and it’s just taken one moment of weakness, one step closer to the cliff for the pokes to effect me?  Everything seems more perilous the closer you are to a cliff.

That isn’t insanity, that’s science.

So how is it that crying makes the cliff so much less daunting? I’ve had my good cry and I feel so much better. Scientifically, I’ve heard that crying releases stress hormones and toxins from the body. Unscientifically, maybe taking all that bottled up emotion, turning it into tears and then throwing it outside the body is cathartic.

Whatever the case, I’m here trying to figure it all out. Writing usually helps me get to the heart of the matter, and in this case, my heart is scared.

Of failing.

Of failing school.

Of failing my kids.

Of failing the ones I love.

Right now, I'm trying so hard, I make things a million times harder than they have to be.

Right now, I worry so hard, I make things a million times more complicated than they have to be.

I’ve let things fall to the wayside to put all my energy into school, and what if all this wayside-ing is just my way of failing without actually saying the word “Failing.”

I’m such a hypocrite.

“You are enough”

“Your best is enough”

I’ve blogged that a million times.

I just can’t fathom failing while doing my best. And yet, it seems as though it could be a possibility.

I’m capable, and I need to trust in that. I need to trust in my knowledge that everything WILL be ok. I need to trust in the peace in my heart, even when the vessels around it pulse with insecurity.

I need to trust in a loving Heavenly Father who has taken such good care of me, and isn’t going to stop now.

I’m on the right path. I just want to kick this path’s ass, you know?

I know that experiences like this are for my own good. They will make me stronger.

I’m just ready to be strong enough.

I need to believe in my kick-assery ability.

And I need sleep.

And I need to stop thinking at night.

And I need a hug.

And maybe, I need some ice cream.
  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I know it's hard.

I want you to know: I know it’s hard.

I almost forgot.  When you’re on the other side it’s convenient to forget all the heartache.  There is power in the success of just getting through, and we feed on that power.  We feed on the triumphant-cy of surviving the childhood years with diabetes.

Like childbirth, the pain isn’t remembered, but the rewards are.

Last week I took some time to look back.  I started with blog-post one and moved forward to the present day.

I forgot how intense the worry was.

I forgot how hard the nights were.

I forgot how the milestones were amplified a millions times over…because they meant so much more to us as they were worked for with full heart and mind.

There will be people out there who will tell you that you are overreacting to certain situations within your child’s diabetic life, and maybe you are…. but I’m here today to tell you that I get it.

I remember.

When things are new, and you are in the thick of it, and you are MOTHER, or FATHER, you are going to worry--about it all--about every little thing.  And you are going to want to protect, and fight and micromanage.

You are going to lose sleep.

You are going to wonder, “What if.”

You are going to wish, and hope, and you are going to second-guess decisions you make because they affect the person that is the most important person in your life…

A person YOU brought into this world.  A person that you want to protect from the hurt.

And you can’t.  Because Diabetes hurts.

It’s a wicked process to go through, but one that doesn’t last forever.

Hence, the purpose for this post.

If you can see, that I….Meri Schuhmacher, have been through all those same situations, and all the same worry, and have survived/is surviving…maybe it will help get you through.

Maybe it will help you to know that hard times don’t last forever and all the hard work will yield a remarkable child.

No, don’t feel bad for protecting your child.  Never feel bad for asking questions.  Never let someones eye-roll deter you. But know, there is an army of others that are doing it too, and they are doing what they think is right for their child, as you are too. And they are surviving, even thriving.

Know that all is well.

In the end it will all be ok. 

Ketones eventually go away.

Blood sugars always come down, sooner or later.

Smarties fix those lows.

Time heals wounds.

The further you get from diagnosis the better you will feel.  The timeline is sure.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change anything that I did.  But I would change how I felt on the inside.  If I approached every problem with the certainty that everything was going to be ok, I’m sure I would have been much calmer about it.

So if you can, take my certainty now, and make it your own.

It’s all going to be ok.

If you have to worry, than worry.  But know that all that worry is doing is raising your blood pressure. Worry is a ride on a merry-go-round, it may keep you busy but it won't get you anywhere. It won’t make the situation go away, only actions will.

I forgot how hard it was, and I’m sorry I did.

As I sit here and write, "don’t worry," I completely understand that it's easier said than done. 

Having a child that doesn’t stop growing for 15 years is ridiculously difficult.  Especially when their body is unique and can’t be compared to another’s.

But even still, don't worry.

Keep on keeping on, D Mom’s and Dads.  You are appreciated, and loved.

You are amazing. 

And one day, you’ll be on the other side of it all like I am, and know…it’s all going to be ok.  Because time and experience will show you that each new episode of life is survivable.

It’s all going to be ok.

You’re doing your best, and that’s enough.

Rock on.  And if you have to, worry on.  Regardless, it's a life worth living.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An open letter to Jamie Oliver.


Sometimes we don’t know we’ve done something hurtful until someone shines a light on it.

(Hold on…let me find a flashlight…)

Generally, when something hurtful is presented, one likes to lash back with hurtful words. Tit for tat as the saying goes.  And although I’m tempted to go there, someone I love reminds me daily to, “always assume the best in people.”  So in the spirit of fairness, I'm going to go ahead and assume you just don’t know…

I assume you just don’t know that posing in front of a huge Coke bottle that says “DIABETES” is hurtful to those that have Diabetes.


I assume that you did it as a caution to others not to overindulge in sugar because it is detrimental to the systems in our bodies.  Over indulgence can cause obesity.  And I assume that you think obesity automatically means diabetes…

That last assumption—my assumption that your assumption is that obesity automatically means diabetes—well, that's where the hurt comes in, because that is misinformation.

I assume you didn’t know that.

Obesity does not automatically mean diabetes.

Many people are obese and do not have diabetes.

Many people are thin and do have diabetes.

Coke, Twinkies and Pie do not diabetes make.

According to WHO, about 35% of the world’s population is overweight and of that 35%, about 11% is obese.

According to the IDF, about 7% of the worlds population has diabetes.

Insinuating that being overweight automatically means diabetes is misleading. 

The truth is, diabetes is a complicated disease.  Sometimes, a lot of times, people get it because of their genetics.  Sometimes people get it because they had gestational diabetes during pregnancy which predisposes them to Type 2 when they get older.  Sometimes people get it because they have autoimmune issues.  Sometimes people get it because they have other things going on with their body, like cancer.  And yes, sometimes people get it because they haven’t taken good care of their body.

But as long as we define diabetes as “SUGAR” or “FATNESS” we assign shame with the disease.  Once that is established, people hide their condition…and neglect happens. And we all know neglect is never ever (ever!) a good thing.

This is what’s happening, Jamie.  Today, people have walked into their doctor’s offices and been diagnosed with Diabetes.  Their doctors have told them it is all their fault, and in turn sent their patients away telling them to fix it or else (insert a terrible number of threats here.)  Saying diabetes is their fault is just the same as telling a depressed person it is their fault.  “Why don’t you just leave and be happy?”  Is the very same as “Why don’t you just leave and lose weight.” 

Instead doctors should say, “Let me help you.  Let me help you find peer support. Diet can be a factor, but there are many others.  Let me help you find the tools to succeed.  I’ll give you meds on my end, you do the work on your end and we’ll meet back here in a month to discuss the progress.  We can get you healthy together!”

Instead.  “You’re fat.  You are sickening.  Your feet are going to fall off if you don’t lose weight.” (Doctor’s may not say this outright, but let me tell you…a lot of times that is what patients hear.)

Standing in front of a Coke can and calling it Diabetes with a smug look on your face is degrading.  You are humiliating those that have Diabetes.  And for why?  To encourage people to get healthy? 

Scare tactics do not encourage.  Ever.

Scare tactics do not motivate.  Ever.

Ever.

Ever.

I know your heart is in the right place.  I know you are on a mission to help.  But what you’ve done isn’t help, in fact, it can only be defined as mean.

My son saw your picture.  He is 17.  He has Type 1 Diabetes, also known to the world as just “diabetes.”  His is autoimmune, but that is beside the point.  You gave him the message that his diabetes is caused by too much sugar. 

His friends saw that picture and you also gave them the message that his diabetes is caused by too much sugar. 

It isn’t.

And even if he did have Type 2 Diabetes, the statistics show that sugar isn’t always the cause.  Because 35% of the world’s population is overweight, and only 7% of the world’s population has diabetes.  (And some of that 7% population is thin.)

There are so many factors to Diabetes it isn’t fair to put a blanket “FAT” definition behind it.  It’s flat out misinformation.

I’m assuming good intentions, but the truth is…your picture is hurtful.

Instead of pointing fingers, let’s help.  Let’s encourage.  Let’s lead.

And please watch this:




I wholeheartedly agree--excess sugar isn't good for our bodies.  It for sure can be part of the story, but it FOR SURE isn't the entire story.  Your picture infers that a lot of Coke leads to Diabetes. We can't pretend we have the answers when we don't.  And as Peter says, "What if some our most fundamental ideas about obesity are just wrong? I can't afford the luxury of arrogance anymore, let alone the arrogance of certainty."

The more you know…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What builds me.


I started this journey naïve. I was a selfish, young, wide-eyed girl. Too young to really be an adult; short on experience for sure.  It seemed as though I was just playing house.  Playing the part of what I always wanted to be.  Or thought I would be.  Or thought life should be.

I had no idea what trial was.  I didn’t know sacrifice.  I didn’t know heartache.

As buildings goes, I looked a little bit like this:


And then the winds came.

So I strengthened my walls. 

And when the rain fell, slanted in its haste...

I fortified the roof.

The cold and the heat, I tried to hide from those uncomfortable things, but soon learned the best way to deal with it all was just to absorb it.  I learned to face the elements that way.  Standing strong.  Enduring.

I learned survival.

I learned what love was.

I learned to hold on.

I learned what hope was. 

And through the entire process, I grew.

Inch by inch I became who I am today.


Growth.

The skin under my eyes is sunken in a bit from all the tears.

The lines on my forehead might be a bit more defined than others from the hamster wheels in my brain, turning turning turning.  Number after number.  Worry after worry.  Wonder after wonder.

But I stand.

Tall.

Glorious in my imperfections.

Owning every dent.  Every missing shingle.  Every crack.

I am me. 

And I am happy to be me. 

All of those things that have tried me, well…they made me grow.  They forged me into a resilient human being.

So today, while I had a hard day, I’m ok with it.

Because I now know that hard things make me better.

I’ll make the improvements I need to weather each unique storm. One by one...as hard things have built me in the past, and they will continue to build me.

I'll be better tomorrow than I am today.  I didn't always appreciate the process, but I've been building for so long now, the lens of experience testifies to me that all will be well. 

The hard things don't hurt like they used to.

They’re tinkering now.  Making their upgrades.  

Thankfully, I’m in charge of the direction those upgrades take me.

And I’m choosing to build up.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Special Needs

A comment was made about me or someone I know, about my children or theirs, or someone else’s and the fact that because they have diabetes they are “Special Needs” children.

And that maybe, I, or them, or someone, couldn’t do certain things, or live a certain life because of the children’s “Special Needs.”

Special Needs.  Why do those words rub me the wrong way when related to Type 1?

Probably because those words insinuate disability. And as a mother, I don't like to think of my children with disabilities.

Also, when one defines someone with special needs, it is generally defined by what they cannot do.

And what CAN’T my boys do?

Well.  They can’t be astronauts. 

And they can’t eat cookies laced with poison.

Is that special needs?

In that context I say nay nay.  Because I’m pretty sure less than one one-hundredth percent of the population will be astronauts anyway.  And I’m pretty sure zero percent of the population can eat cookies laced with poison. 

To be fair, I know it isn’t all that simple.  My boys technically do have special needs. In fact I've used the term myself to get the boys the accommodations they need for school. Obviously because they do have needs that other children do not. Also, my children are covered under the “Children with Disabilities Act,” and I'm quite thankful they are.  Because of it my boys can check their blood sugars at their desks and leave to go to the bathroom as many times as they like if they are high.  

And yes, my boys do have a special need for insulin.  That is true.

When they were younger they needed me to administer their insulin.  They needed me to check their sugar.  They needed me to count their carbs.  They needed me to insert their pump sets. 

I suppose those needs were special.  I know for sure that back then the worry was a special kind of worry too.

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree.  Maybe what really irks me aren’t the words “Special Needs”, but rather the insinuation that my children’s needs would interfere with my ability to contribute. 

Could such an insinuation be true?

I say nay nay.

Because even though I walked around tired for 15 years, never once did that tiredness affect my ability to love.  To help.  To serve.  To work.  My capacity to be a contributing member to the human race was never diminished, but rather magnified by my ability to empathize and my innate stubbornness to not let the tiredness get me down.

In fact I’m pretty sure my tiredness gave me a perspective of gratitude. A perspective that all of us could use some cultivation of.

Maybe I couldn’t say this 10 years ago, but I can say it now…Diabetes has given me as a mother more than it has taken.  It’s shaped me, increased my capacity to serve, and love, and increased my ability to multitask a million times over.

Back in the day Diabetes kept me busy, but these days? Not so much.  I wonder what those who don't intimately know Type 1 Diabetes imagine?  Do they imagine me spending all the live-long day caring for my sickly children?  Let me be clear: I don't spend my days at my child’s bedside, holding his hand and mother birding him his breakfast every morning.  I’m not up all night dabbing cold compresses on his head tending to his fever. 

In fact, if you were to come to our home, you wouldn’t see diabetes disrupting anything.  If you really listened, you might hear a child ask a carb count in passing, or you might see me rattling off a number or two.  But otherwise, it’s business as usual at the Schumacher’s.  Diabetes is a natural thing.  It isn’t drama.  And it for sure doesn’t supersede the normalness of life.

Around here, video games are more important than diabetes.

No.  It wasn’t always that way.  It used to be a very big deal when the boys couldn’t feel their lows.

But they do feel them now.

It used to be a very big deal when school started and their numbers would bottom out every single night.

But they don’t do that now.

It used to be a pretty big deal when I had to do all the checking and all the set changes.

But I don’t do any of that now.

Except the occasional midnight check to make sure all is well.

Diabetes doesn’t interfere with Homework.

Diabetes doesn’t interfere with their ability to do housework.

Diabetes doesn’t interfere with their ability to play, or be sarcastic, or be helpful, or wonderful.  In fact diabetes only helps them with discipline and makes them better human beings.

Don’t dismiss me because I have children that used to require special assistance from me.  That time in my life made me who I am today.  And even if they did require that assistance from me today, I’m more capable than the sum of my parts.  I learned that the hard way the past couple years.

Sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem.  Our society loves to categorize people and make assumptions about each other’s abilities. 

When that happens, everyone loses.

Look at any family and you’ll probably be able to check some kind of special needs box.


But when you do, realize it isn’t what’s in the box that matters.  It’s what’s all around it.