Wednesday, November 15, 2017

We're more than Diabetes


I sit here alone in the middle of Indiana.

A silent house.

A loud soul.

It pounds against my mind, begging for me to work through the feelings of anger, love, gratefulness, and fear.

The stories of Diabetic lives swirl around me. At times they can overwhelm my senses and put my busyness on pause.

In this moment I quiet my mind and ponder the last 20 years. The blood, the tears, the triumphs, the numbers…all of it replaying in subdued black and white. I see the history of my family and the impact of friendships and unconditional love.

I marvel at it all.

It’s impossible to box up all my emotions in one tidy blog post. Diabetes has been a constant companion, yet my history is so much richer than the worry it imparts.

My history includes four children. Little boys who danced and ran and laughed with tears streaming down their faces. Forty perfect toes, and eight bright eyes that have been through hell and back.

A hell that has very little to do with Diabetes.

As I take in the pictures and turn them from black and white to color, I don’t see insulin pumps. I don’t see test strips. I don’t see sleepless nights.

I see boys who are human and are trying to make sense of all the chaos life has to offer. I see them walking as steady as possible in treacherous winds.

Hard things. So many hard things.

But with all of it, so many more blessings.

J is the most loving young man I know. He still holds my hand. His hugs are never-ending. He’s been knocked down so many times as he’s sorted through everything, and yet he gets up again and again.

B is a force. He’s a whirlwind of empathy and care wrapped in the persona of a grumpy old man. He feels everything harder than everyone else, and desperately tries to hold it all in.

L is a miracle. He has overcome so many obstacles and is wise beyond his years. He’s kind. He’s sweetness from head to toe.

And M? He is a man. The little blond haired baby has turned into a six foot blond haired man. A man that listens, loves, and above all…tries his best. Always.

They are all so wonderful.

Yet, they are all so hard on themselves.

Because, Diabetes aside, life is a lot.

A lot of work.

A lot of feelings.

A lot of unknown.

A lot of not measuring up to impossible standards the Internet so indignantly imparts.

We have a lot on our plates.

But we have plates…

And we have each other.

We have an extended family that has become home.

We have so much more than Type 1 Diabetes in this house.

We have love. And we have faith. 

Some day my boys will see how important that faith is. 

Until then, I’ll remind them that they are loved, and try to give them the space to make mistakes so they can learn that life doesn’t end with one bad day…or even one bad number.

Our Diabetic Life?

That’s only part of the story. I leave that part here on this page…but there is so much more to us.

Volumes and volumes of text of more.

I’m done letting Diabetes overwhelm me today. I’m dusting off my faith and trusting in our beautiful future.

Anger? What good is it.

Love? It's everything.

Gratefulness? It turns what we have into enough.

And Fear? What is the point? Life goes on whether we live it to the fullest or not. Why let the fear mask all the good? Why miss out on happiness?

I’m grateful for all that I have, and I love my people. So so much.


Diabetes makes me love more...

I just can't be angry about that.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Diabetes Awareness Month Fallout


It’s Diabetes Awareness Month, or as I like to call it, Diabetes Throat Punches me Every Time I go onto Facebook Month.

Everyone is doing an amazing job of posting. My newsfeed is full of picture after picture; story after story, PSA after PSA…all good things! After all, it’s education that is much needed.

Diabetes has a lot of awaring to do, for sure.

I always start day one of November with the best of intentions. I want to educate. I want to show the world the work, the dedication, the pain, the all-the-time of Diabetes. I want to be a good advocate!

But…

I also want to hide.

I want to curl up in a corner and pretend the seriousness of Diabetes away.

I want to live in a world where Diabetes isn’t a big deal.

I don’t want to think about my boys’ lifetime reliance on insulin.

I don’t want to think about what could happen if one of us messes up.

I fee guilty that I feel this way. I feel guilty that this month overwhelms me so. 

Because it is my job to advocate, making the world a kinder one for my children.

But it’s also my job to stay strong. I can’t do that looking at the reality of Diabetes every time I jump on Facebook. (Which is a lot. Don’t judge.)

Facebook is a double-edged sword for me. One side I find relief, acceptance, and “me too.” On the other side I find Diabetes everything: A constant reminder that this thing will always be there. A constant reminder that there is no cure. A constant reminder that this disease is hard, physically and emotionally for my boys.

I’ve been able to temper my brain into accepting only enough information and emotion so I can successfully rally through each day.  But when Diabetes Awareness Month rolls around, the information overfloweth and my brain swelleth.

It makes me angry.

It makes me sad.

It makes me feel everything harder.

I already feel enough. My feeling cup is full.

I hold it together all year long, but exposing the truths of this disease exposes my vulnerability. (Hold on, let me grab a robe…my vulnerability is showing…)

...

I can only hope that by having my little pity party, I will educate the world on just how all encompassing Type 1 Diabetes is. It affects every aspect of our lives. It can never be ignored…ever. (Well, it can for a few hours if we want to ignore consequences. But I'm my boys' mother. It is my responsibility to keep them healthy and alive...which is a pretty big responsibility, magnified tenfold when diabetes is in the picture.) 

Diabetes is a family member that lives with us that NEVER SHUTS UP. We try to make it comfortable, we try to keep it happy and quiet…but it’s always walking into the room, “Blah, Blah, BLAH BLAH BLAH!”

Don’t worry…I see it. I need to stop this post now.


Anyhoo…thanks for listening. I’ve gotten out all my angst and I will now post this and go back to reading my newsfeed with my mascara close by for easy reapplication.

Thank you to all of you who have the strength and fortitude to post your stories. I know they make a difference. I hope I can get over myself and make a difference too.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I heard my son's name.


I had just returned from a long trip and was sleeping soundly in my own bed. My dreams were vivid and detailed; My consciousness wasn’t anywhere near where my body slumbered.

I heard my son’s name and it woke me up.

I opened my eyes and listened. There was only silence. It was 4:30am and the house was still. I picked up my phone to check the boys’ blood sugar numbers.

L was 130.

B was 70.

J isn’t wearing a CGM at this time.

I tried to go back to sleep. Lately, it’s been common for B to be around 70 about this time in the morning, but he always stays steady. I had slept through a few alarms where he drifted to 69 and then back up to 70. (Man I've been sleeping through too many alarms again!) But, he was waking up in an hour anyway...all would be well.

I couldn’t sleep as my son’s name echoed in my ears. It was so real. The voice wasn't a yell, but rather an urgent, crisp call. It was a familiar voice that had woken me up. It sounded like B, but it wasn’t B…

It was Ryan.

“I’m being stupid,” I thought. “Go to sleep.”

But before I could close my eyes again I was up out of bed.

Feeling foolish and a sense of urgency at the same time, I thought, “It won’t hurt to check on them.” 

I checked B first. He was 70. Exactly what the CGM said he was. I set a temp basal of zero for a half hour and walked to the other side of the room to check J.  He was 350, which was unusual for him. (I later found out he ate some leftover Chinese food at midnight.) I corrected his sugar and thought that neither of these corrections was really an emergency. I must have dreamed that I heard the name.

Because I love all my boys, I went to L’s room and watched his chest. It took a minute, but I finally saw it lift and softly fall in a big sigh.

All was well.

“Go to bed, Meri.” I thought.

I couldn’t sleep when I returned to bed. My mind was alive with information, and I was almost haunted by the question, “Why did I wake up?”

I tossed.

I turned.

And 15 to 20 minutes later I got my answer.

B’s Dexcom alarmed.

I looked at my phone.

It said he was 42.

I jumped up and went to his room.

I pricked his finger to check his blood sugar.

It said he was 39.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"(Man I've been sleeping through too many alarms again!)" 
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Needless to say, I’m thankful for miracles in my life.

And also for guardian angels. 
  

Friday, September 22, 2017

They save their lives.

His lanky body sat elegantly in the chair. The evening sun glowed behind him, backlighting the delicate hairs on his neck. His chin was raised and his expression was one of thoughtfulness. He flicked the insulin bottle again and again until he was satisfied. Withdrawing the needle, he nonchalantly began filling the reservoir. It all seemed so natural. If a stranger had walked into our home at that moment, I don’t believe he would have given my son a second glance. His movements were fluid, his eyes excited with information, his face serene.

The beeps began and he sat back contently in his chair waiting for the tube to prime. He saw me admiring him and his eyes narrowed. “There’s nothing to see here,” he said with a chuckle behind his breath. But it was too late, and seemingly impossible to look away. I was completely drawn in by the image he was.

The entire scene seemed magical; like in those seconds I was blessed to watch a rare moment in nature. A whale breaching, two bear cubs snuggling, and my son changing the set in his insulin pump…all beautiful moments not seen often by the world.

My son was saving his own life.

And nobody even knows but us.

The scene changed quickly as more people entered the room. One was bobbing an apple up and down in his hand and the other was busy discussing his day. Neither seemed in awe by what B was doing. It struck me: this really is our normal.

In came the youngest and with a clap of his hand on B’s shoulder he says, “Save some of that insulin for me.”

“Sure…I think there’s a couple drops left.” B slid the practically empty insulin bottle to his brother, clearly amused in his brother’s disappointment.

L unscrewed his pump from his abdomen and walked over the refrigerator.  He scanned the contents of the shelves, absentmindedly grabbing a bottle of insulin and nestling it in his armpit.

“What time is dinner?”

“6:15” I said wistfully, my head resting on my hand as I treasured my boys.

L reached back in the fridge and gabbed a sugar free Jello, “This will hold me over.”

I walked over to the Diabetes supply cupboard and surveyed the contents. I realized we needed to order pump supplies. I had no idea we are so close to running out. I slid open the drawer where the boys toss their sharps and was taken aback by the pile before me.

Didn’t I just clean out this drawer?

All the set changes, all the finger pricks, all the texts asking my boys if they bolused…it’s all invisible to the world. Sometimes it's even invisible to me. Scenes like the above wash by me without a second thought, and before I know it, there’s a pile of sharps again.

It really is Our Diabetic Life.

But I’m thankful that once in a while I can see the beauty in it and appreciate the work my boys put in day in and day out. Even if they act a little later than I want them to…at least they act.

I haven’t changed a pump set in years. I poke fingers only at night, and even then it’s beginning to seem foreign to me.

I used to save my boys’ lives, but now they save their own.

The enormity of that statement is mind-boggling…

Yet completely imponderable too.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A 4am plea to Insulin Pump Companies.


Let’s get real here.

There is an insulin pump defect that needs to be addressed. The defect is mostly affecting teenagers, Although children and adults everywhere are susceptible to the consequences this defect provides…

Listen.

Let me lay this out for you. I’m going to talk about teenagers here. (Not about your teenager, I’m sure your teenager is an honor student, and perfectly obedient to all alarms, and does most everything right, and would never even fathom what’s about to go down here. Ok? This probably doesn’t apply to you…but you can keep reading. For pity, or you know…to boost your self-esteem….I get it…)

Anyway.

I’m fully aware that teens’ frontal lobes haven’t completely connected properly…they’re victims until the mid 20’s.

I know they’re at a disadvantage. I know it isn’t their fault.

Most…

Some…

A lot…

Teenagers as a collective?

YES!…teenagers as a group can’t do all the necessary remembering all the time.  Their brains just don’t have the synapsis for reason to travel upon. 

Sometimes they forget. Or procrastinate.

But...

Ok, listen.

It’s 4 am.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of all pump companies, asking for some love. A little help here, please?

When a pump runs out of insulin, there needs to be epicness.

Sure the synapses are still working on creating their paths from one side of the brain to another, but for teens there is one synapse that has a sure, well connected path: The Embarrassment Synapse.

When insulin runs out on a pump…you guys need to make it embarrassing for teenagers.

So they’ll actually add more insulin.

BECAUSE THEY IGNORE THE ALARMS.

Listen. LINDA, LISTEN.



You’re sweet little “No Delivery” notification isn’t cutting it.

You need to be more creative.

There needs to be a noise. An unbearable noise. One that will only go away once fresh insulin is added to the reservoir.

Screeching cicadas?

Weird Al Yankovich singing “Ice Ice Baby?” But like, not making the words funny…just straight out singing it over and over and over again.

Or I don’t know…I’m just snowballing here…but maybe a hologram can pop up from their pumps of their mother telling stories about potty training them… at age 8?

Something super embarrassing.

ListenListenListen

It HAS to be embarrassing for it to work.

Because if it happens and it’s embarrassing the first time? There will not be a second time. Period. (I mean, I know there was a period there, but I had to write it out for emphasis.) 

Teenagers will avoid embarrassment at any cost.

Super important reiteration: It can’t stop. The noise, the hologram, all of it…it must continue until the new insulin is in the pump. Even if the battery is taken out.

There must be no dismissal.

Listen.

Linda.

Please.

I am tired of waking up in the middle of the night to empty reservoirs.

Sure, I make them change it themselves. I’m not going to make it easier for them to ignore…

But I still have to get out of bed and make them lucid enough to understand the words, “YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR SET RIGHT NOW. NO. INSULIN.”

It’s harder than it sounds. There was one time one of them went downstairs and just fell asleep on the couch.

Also, waking them completely wakes me.

It doesn’t happen all the time so don’t get all huffy, lecturing me on the divine nuances of parenthood.

They are teenagers. THEIR BRAINS ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE.  It’s a scientific fact.

Yes, it's super frustrating when it happens. And even though it isn’t all the time, or all that often…It FEELS like all the time. Ok?

Look it.

We need magic.  Magic help.

You can do it pump people. YOU CAN. 

I totally believe in you.

  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

7 years later, 19 years in.


The post titled, Still a Little Broken, popped up in my Facebook memories today. I read it as an outsider, sad for the girl that wrote the words. But then the memories came creeping back in. The brokenness that I lived with returned to me in powerful waves. I remembered clearly the heaviness of the day to day. I saw perfectly the worry that affected the person I was.

I was more broken than I admitted to you that day.

But life molds us. And as we move forward, perspectives change. I presume aging has something to do with it too. We experience unthinkable tragedies and we survive. Fear hardens and turns into strength. Knowledge becomes power. And most of all, the brokenness becomes a powerful cohort.

Everything that I've experienced in my life has given me the tools to cope with the background music of Diabetes.

I don't let it control my emotions like I once did.

Maybe I'm numb.

Maybe I'm smarter.

Maybe I'm dumber.

But somehow, not on purpose, I stopped letting Diabetes control my entire being.

I was able to let go of the debilitating guilt. (Not all the guilt, I'm a mother after all.) But most of it.

I Don't fault myself for living the way I did for so many years. In fact, I probably needed to be that way. It hurts me to think about. It was hard.

But now I can look at the numbers without fear, or anger.  Because I have to. If I took them personally I would go insane. They come to me every five minutes, twenty four hours a day. The numbers will never stop.

Like driving a car we constantly adjust the wheel to keep things going in the right direction. Even when going down a straight highway we need to adjust...there's no taking the hand off the wheel. We try not to veer off the road, but know if we do, we have the tools to fix the car and move on.

We'll always be driving together. As the kids grow they take turns taking the wheel, but I'm there if they get tired, or reckless. Someday I'll be kicked out of the car, but right now I'm still riding along...

And somewhere along the way, I don't know when it happened, I realized that we have control over the stereo. Not diabetes. All it took was our changing the station.

The background music is what we want it to be.

It sounds easier than it was. But it was a simple concept nonetheless.

I don't let Diabetes change who I am anymore. But it built me.

The person I am today stands on the foundation that I built with blood, sweat, and tears for years and years.  Though I don't stand on the foundation as the slave that I was. I stand proudly on my work and own myself now. I am the ruler of my life.

Well, most of the time. Life is crazy after all.

More than anything I just want those of you who are building your foundations to know, that later, you'll be thankful for the work your putting in now.  To each of you in all the phases of your lives, someday the worry you hold will be an asset, not a liability.

"Everything will be ok in the end. And if it's not ok, than it's not the end."

I use to tell myself that all the time.

Now I don't have to, because I know it.



Cheers to you and all your hard work.

You are loved.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Reenactment: Teenager Set Change


I don’t usually post about teenager stuff, but this post is written with permission by my 13 year old.

When you read it, you’ll see why.

Saturday morning I was woken up by said 13 year old. He had filled his reservoir and asked if I’d be willing to pop his set in. He’s not a big fan of the “popping it in” part, and insists it doesn’t hurt as much when I do it. When I’m not around, he does it…but it was Saturday, so…of course.

I was not quite awake, but I cleared my fuzzy brain best I could and popped it in whilst still lying down.

I could see the relief on his face. “Wow. That was a really good one!”

After this he went to eat breakfast.

The following is a transcript of what transpired next:

“Why the two arrows up on the Dex? Did you bolus for breakfast?”

“Yes, Mommm! I bolused!”

An hour later.

“Kid. Still two arrows up and now you’re in the high 300’s.”

“Do you want to check my history? I bolused! And I bolused BEFORE I ate.”

“Well, give yourself a couple extra units. Maybe you didn’t bolus enough.”

"I'll give myself four extra units. Chances are good I'll eat a granola bar soon."

An hour later his Dex said “High” with an arrow up.

"Did you eat a granola bar?"

"Nope."

"Did you eat anything other than breakfast this morning?"

"Nope."

“Did you bolus for breakfast before or after the set change.”

“After.”

“When I popped your set in, you looked really happy. Did you even feel it?”

“No. It was amazing," he said whistfully.

“We’re going to have to put in a new set. This one must be kinked.” I began to get up off the couch when I felt him grab my hand.

With both his hands cradling mine, he looked hopefully into my eyes...

“Mom. Listen. That was the best set-change in three months. Please don’t take that away from me...”

“And that’s why it has to be changed. It probably isn’t good. You’re over 400.”

I don't look back but I feel the twang of a glare hitting me in the back of my head.

I insert another set and gently peel back the old one to see if it was bad.

It was perfect.

“Crap.”

“NOOOOO! I can’t believe it. I knew it was good! Oh my gosh. Apology. I think this deserves an apology.”

“Not so fast. This still doesn’t explain why you’re going so high. Why did you change your set so early this morning? Was it low reservoir, or out of insulin?”

“It didn’t SAY ‘no insulin.’ You know, with words.”

“How many units did you have left?”

Silence.

“It said ‘- - -‘ didn’t it.”

“Yes. It did.”

“Why didn’t you change your set when you got the low reservoir alarm?”

“Mom. It was Midnight! I was tired!  Besides, it said I had 2.9 units left.”

“Dude. Your basal rate would eat that up in an hour and a half.”

“12 units? Really??!”

“You said 2.9 and now you’re saying 12.”

“It’s all the same.”

“Do you know what your basal rates are? Do you even know what a basal rate is? Your pump gives insulin even when you don’t push buttons. If there is no insulin to give, you get ketones….OH MY GOSH. You probably have ketones! That explains it!”

“I know what basal is, and I don’t have ketones.” (eye roll)

“Oh. We’re checking!”

As I take out the Blood Ketone Monitor he says,” This is a waste of a ketone strip. It’s going to say I’m 0.2”

“Oh, we will see!”

We watch the monitor count down, and at the end of it? 0.2

“Crap! I mean, Awesome!”

“Apology. I want an apology!”

“DUDE. I want an apology! You didn’t change your set last night when it said Low Reservoir!”

“IT. Was. MIDNIGHT. I was really tired.”

“You know I’m going to blog this right. This is blogging gold.”

“Go ahead. I was tired. Is that a crime?”

“You can’t live without insulin, kid. Diabetes doesn’t get tucked in at midnight. It devours insulin 24/7. Diabetes doesn’t sleep!”

“I’ll apologize if you apologize. You took out the perfect set.”

“If you want me to apologize for being an awesome D Mom, then yes, I apologize.”

“It didn’t need to be changed! You need to apologize for changing it!”

“I did what I had to do. I was trying to keep you safe. I won’t apologize for it. You on the other hand…”

“I had 2.9 units! There was insulin in my pump when I went to sleep!”

“GIVE. ME. YOUR. PUMP.”

He hands it over defiantly.

“Your basal rate right now is 1.65 from midnight to 4am, and 1.85 from 4am to 9am. Puberty demands a ton of insulin. Now lets do the math. 1.65 units for three hours is 4.95 units of insulin. Add that to the next five hours at 1.85 per hour and that is 14.2 units of insulin needed while you slept last night. Take away the 2.9 you said was left, that means there was 11.3 units that was not delivered that your body needed.”

There is a long thoughtful pause, and then he says with a far off look in his eyes, “Whoa. It’s official. I’m a teenager.”

He threw himself into my arms and gave me a long hug. "I'm sorry mom." 

I whispered into his ear. “I’m still blogging this.”

He whispers back. “I know.”