Monday, July 29, 2013

Nerve wracked.

I’m pretty sure parenting a child with diabetes fries your nerves to 10% capacity.  We live a life so constantly on edge that our nerves fray a bit and courage grows to make up the difference.

But what happens when we hit a nerve?  What happens when things get so hard our courage runs for the hills to find a nice large cave to sit and rock in like a child who walked in on a grandparent naked?

Case and point:  This super-courageous-seen-it-all-D-Mama ALMOST reached that place today.  Thankfully, since I’m blogging about it, it seems my nerves aren’t completely shot and I can look back on it and recount it in a completely impartial, unbiased manner.

A few hours ago we set off on an adventure.  (Okay, it was a walk, but anything we do as a family, I call and adventure.  It makes it more fun.) We packed up the baseball gear and decided to walk a mile down the road to the nearest field and hang and play. 

We checked sugars before we left.  Both B and L were in the low 200’s.  They corrected, I grabbed a blood sugar monitor and then turned to B…

“Grab some tabs or fruit snacks, just in case.”

“Sure mom.”  He headed for the kitchen.

We were off.



Super happy boys.

The only thing that could make it all even better was ice cream!

We walked to the nearby Ice Cream Parlor and ordered our treats.

Now this is the place where we should have checked blood sugars. It's so obvious it hurts just typing it. But instead I was talking to my 18 year old who had driven down to pick up our gear so we could take the back roads home and not worry about the extra weight.  He wanted ice cream too.  I wanted some water.  Conversation about him going out tonight took place…blah blah blah…

No check.

I gave the boys a conservative amount of insulin, because at this point I realized I didn’t check them and thought to myself, “They just ate a huge ice cream.  They aren’t going low.”

 And then as I thought that ridiculously stupid thought that every bit of my brain KNEW was stupid, but I blindly believed anyway, we readied ourselves for the walk home. 

This is a pic of B with his best friend.  If you look close there is a bridge off in the distance to the right. The bridge is where “the incident” took place.


10 steps from the bridge L gives me the eye roll, and he immediately collapses at the middle like his spine magically, in one instant, turned to jello.

“I feel low.”

Now my little L isn’t the biggest fan of “walks” so I thought he was being his old dramatic self and even smiled and winked at B as I checked his sugar.


Ok this is where my courage exploded into a million little particles, and the pieces that survived ran away like this:

So I turn to B and say, “Hand over the sugar.”

He hands me a Rice Kripsy Treat.  WHHHHHAAA the crap?

“Where is the sugar I asked you to grab?” 

“This is it.”

“We don’t own these.”

“I brought it back from camp with me.”

I hand it to L and of course he sits down, opens it and says…”Do I have to eat it.  I don’t want to eat.”

And I felt like my head spun around and vomit came out of my eyes when I said, “Yes.  YES YOU DO.”

But B tells me I really said it kindly.  So I’ll go with his version instead.

He nibbled and started doing the head roll thing like he was going to pass out.

At this point my mind is swimming.  Trying to remember the course Gary Scheiner gave at FFL about the Glycemic Index.  Is the ice cream going to kick in soon?  Is the insulin going to bring him down even more?  Is he going to pass out?  What will I do if he passes out?

Yes I took a picture.  I have a problem.  I know it.

I disconnected his pump and then scanned the landscape.  I saw the Jr. College over the hill.  I called my 18 year old and calmly told him he needed to be in the back of the Jr. College 30 minutes ago, and we began to make our way to civilization.

This is the part where I should tell you, L is made of bricks.  Seriously, the kid is solid.  There was absolutely no carrying him.  So he leaned on me and I drug him over the school.  It was a sight.  Like dragging a drunken bag of barbells.  We made it on pure determination on my part, and sat on the curb.  I told B and his friend to find the parking lot and direct M to us.

Enter in:  Cap’n Joe.

He rode up on his bike and knew that something was wrong.

“Is everything OK?  It looks like you could use some help.”

Then I tell him the story using words like, “Carbs. Insulin on board. Disconnection of pump.”  And, “need sugar now.”

His face was blank.  I might as well been Charlie Browns Teacher, everything I said went way over his head.  But when I got the need sugar part he perked up, “All I have is water.  But I’m in the Coast Guard and part of the first responder team.  Do you want me to go get you something?”

At which point M drove up.  The Cap’n put out his hand to introduce himself to L, and asked L’s name.  L gave him a blank look like, “I have no idea what my name is.  Waffle?”

L’s not getting up at this point.  He’s white.  He’s whimpering, and mumbling over and over “Why did we go on this walk???”

M and I get him in the car and I strap him in.   He's still holding the half eaten Rice Krispy Treat in his hand.

“Straight home and two Dex 4’s.  GO!” 

He took off like a bat out of hell, but not before he told me he never saw B and his friend.

It took me 15 minutes to find B and his friend, who thought they should go to the center of a random parking lot to wait for M.  It took me another 15 minutes to get home…powerwalking like an idiot.

It wasn’t until I took my phone out of my back pocket to call M that I noticed I was shaking like a 90-year-old woman with tremors.  It took me four tries to successfully call…it all seemed like a bad dream.  The kind of dream when you know you need to call for help but you just can’t dial the numbers right. (Hey.  You know you've had that dream!)  While making a fool of myself walking like a possessed woman, I finally got ahold of M who told me L’s sugar was now 79.

I hung up and cried for a good 40 seconds until the boys caught up to me.

When I got home L was on the computer playing Minecraft.




Me?  I still have the shakes, but I’m able to type, so I’ll live.

So typical of diabetes…it’s over.  JUST.  LIKE.  THAT.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Because we know better. (My reaction to the "Tiger Mom" perception.)

Last week I read this very interesting article on Diabetes Mine.  And by interesting I mean I had to try hard to keep my composure while I reading it.  Wil did a great job trying to be partial in all of this, but he kind of blew it for me when he said, “Yes, I think the new D-parenting style has created a generation of ‘spoiled brats.’”

In short a gentleman wrote in and basically asked Wil why parents these days go overboard when taking care of their children’s diabetes.  “Tired parents and Nighttime checks?  Phbtt!  Back in my day…that wasn’t needed!”  Ok.  That isn’t a direct quote.  But it’s the gist I got from it all.

I know a lot of you don’t do nighttime checks.  Different strokes for different folks.  It’s all good.  But let me take a minute to defend the D’rents of today.  Most of us are on top of our child’s care…exhaustingly so.

Why does it seem to be so much more exhausting to take care of a child with diabetes now than it did back in the good ol’ days?

Hmmm.  Could it possibly be that we KNOW more now than we did back in the good ol’ days?  Back then I didn’t wear a seatbelt.  Ever.  Back then my baby sister rode in a bassinette between the front two bucket seats in the van.  Back then chewing on cribs painted with lead was no biggy.  Bike helmets? Nope. Back then everyone smoked.  Back then 5 year olds walked downtown to buy candy at the corner store, by themselves.  (Guilty as charged.)

Now we have more in-for-ma-tion.

Yes, probably too much information.  But it’s staring me in the face every minute of every day nonetheless.  Am I to ignore it because, “They’ll probably be fine.”

Let’s start out with what I know. 

I know that a tighter A1C with smaller BG swings means less complications down the road for my children.

I know that when my kids sleep it is the ONLY time of the day that I have less than 10 variables to contend with.  During the day I have limited control over varibles such as exercise, food, stress, excitement and weather.  At night I have their control in the palm of my hand.  Why would I give up that advantage? 

At FFL I learned that if you check your sugar 4-6 times a day the probability of getting an A1C in the 8’s goes way up.  If you check 6-8 times a day the probability of an A1C in the 7’s is very high.  In fact this class contented that your “control” is mostly based on putting in the work.  I can't tell you if all that is true, but research suggests, the harder you try the better you'll do.  

As Reyna says HERE, that is 1/3 of my boys’ lives that I can have in check.  Since my children don’t snack after dinner unless they are low, I contend that is half of my boys’ lives that I can have in check.

Do you have any idea how positively that influences my boys' A1C’s?

Now let’s backtrack a little.  I don’t stay up at night for shiz and giggles.  I don’t pat myself on the back and act as though I’m a martyr for my boys.  The bags under my eyes aren’t badges of honor.

I check at night when it is needed.

You see with all this information comes responsibility.  If you had a child with Diabetes, and they went low every night, or high every night, wouldn’t you feel a responsibility to check on it and find a way to fix it?  We can check ketones with a blood meter now.  If my child has ketones, wouldn’t I work at night to get rid of them so they don’t feel completely crappy the next day?

Would you let a 279 fly at midnight right before you were off to bed?  Maybe you would.  But I wouldn’t, because I know fixing that 279 helps my son wake up with a good number…feeling his best.  Cognitively at his best, ready to tackle his day at school.  Which if you haven’t heard, is much harder than when we were kids.  (I took naps in 1st grade.  Seriously.  The whole class did.  My 1st graders had to write 12 page reports, with bibliographies, followed up by composed and thoughtful oral reports.)

Have I let a 279 fly before without correcting it?  Sure.  If they have been LOW LOW LOW all night and I finally see a safe number, you bet your SOBE water I’m going to keep them there.  Though it is rare, I realize there are always exceptions to the rule.

I know our family is weird, but we have three boys with T1.  There is RARELY a night when someone doesn’t need a correction, or needs to be fed.  RARELY.  And because I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’ve caught a scary number of lows I would have never known about if I didn’t test.  Dead in Bed Syndrome.  I think all of us say,  “Hell no!”  Not that we all don’t know it could still happen to our family, but if it did, wouldn’t I want the peace of mind to say, “I tried?”

There are so many variables to my nighttime routine, I can’t write them here.  (Although Christina and Katy did good jobs trying to HERE and HERE.) Suffice it to say, I go by my gut.  A lot of nights a 12:00 check is enough…once in awhile every hour is hardly enough.  Did you know that children do most of their growing at night?  Did you know this active growing effects their blood sugars?  So I could go months with no worries about the nighttime, but then BAM!  Growth spurt and all their basal rates go out the window!  That means adjusting.  That means checking at night.  And by the way, it seems like one of my boys is always growing.

In this new age, we have CGM’s and blood sugar monitors that give us numbers in 3 seconds.  Why wouldn’t I use that technology to the best of my ability to make for a better future for my children?  I’m the one that has to look at them in the eye when they are 40 and say, “I did the best I could.”  Even in the event of them facing complications from this crappy disease.  And speaking of technology: If my boys pump sets ripped out at 10pm, and I didn’t check them until morning, they would be in DKA.  Period.

Am I stressing my kids out by taking such good care of them?


That is WHY I take good care of them, to take the stress off them.  In my situation, my boys were diagnosed as babies.  (I’m not exaggerating; my first was diagnosed at 8 months old.)  I do things like test their sugars before they wake up, so it doesn’t have to be the first thing they do in the morning.  I don’t make a big deal about diabetes.  It is what it is.  Maybe I’m different than other parents, but I think that “Spoiled brat” that Wil spoke about in the Diabetes Mine article is an exception to the rule.  Or maybe he’s just a TEENAGER?   I don’t know.

But I’ll tell you that by 6th grade my now 15-year-old son was changing his own pump sets and counting his own carbs.  My 11 year old has just begun counting his own carbs, and he’s already pretty awesome at it.  This year he will learn to change his sets too, he already rewinds the pump and takes the reservoir out when it’s time to change the set.  I pass on the responsibility little by little so it doesn’t seem so much as responsibility, but more like FREEDOM.  Power to go on sleepovers and power to go on a bike ride with a friend without mom ringing him on the cellphone.  (And yeah, my boys have cheap flip phones.  We have no school nurse…another thing that was available to us back in the good ol’ days.)

One day my boys will move away.  One day they’ll be ALL on their own.  On that day, I’ll wish I could help them a little bit longer, because that’s what mothers do.  They love and cherish and help.

Am I a tiger mom?

I honestly don’t think so.  In fact, I’m going to flat out say, “No, I’m not.”

I’m a mom doing the best she can, with the information she has.

Also, I have never, ever, in my life met a T1 child who was not mature, sweet, kind and all kinds of wonderful.  There are always a few bad seeds out there that ruin it for everyone else.  But generalizing is dangerous, and in this case, grossly unfair.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Diabetic Living Magazine: Behind the scenes!

It all started with some emails.  “Meri, I read you blog.  Meri, you have a story to tell.  Meri, we’d like to do a big spread about your family in Diabetic Living Magazine.  Meri, we would like to come to your home with a photographer, and stylist and take pictures for a couple days.” (Well, they didn’t say Meri so many times…but I like the effect of the sentence so I’m leaving it.)

Anyway, I said, “Sure!”

Then a couple months later these boxes showed up on my porch.

 Inside were “accessories” to make my house prettier. 

And I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”

They brought clothes for me, and for the boys.  We tried things on and they all voted on this sweater for me.  I wasn’t the biggest fan, but this was their rodeo, and I was all in!

Honestly though, they couldn’t have been nicer.  In fact, it almost felt like family was visiting.  As I was getting my hair styled the Editor was laying on my bed asking questions... 

“I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed anyone while laying on their bed.”  She said.

“And that makes me so happy!” I said.

And now for the important stuff:

The makeup artist did a really great job.  MAN, these selfies from my iPhone after the two makeup sessions were THE BOMB!  

I showed them to the camera guy and told him I wanted to look like this in every picture he took.  He laughed.  Maybe not a big guffaw kinda laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.  Apparently he's really really good....but not a miracle worker.

I don't really look like those pictures.  But since they were taken with no filter, I think it's only fair to keep them as my Facebook profile pics for life, right?

Most of the things in the shot where we’re playing games really do belong to me.  Well, except for the green runner, the little bowls, and the popcorn bowl.

(You know you were wondering.  Ok, well, some people were wondering.)

The breakfast table on the other hand…the only thing that is mine is the table and the heart shaped bowl that I keep the boys meters in.  And the meters.  They taped our light to the side.  Pretty hilarious.

 The editor, Martha even made the scrambled eggs and bacon for the shoot.  How’s that for service?  And the boys totally ate it all afterwards!  
(Look at her sweet smile! How can you not love her!)

 We actually did shoot pictures at the boys’ school, and in their classrooms.

 Why am I telling you all this?  Because believe it or not, these are the questions people keep asking me, so I’m answering them!  I did title this "behind the scenes."  You had to see it coming.

All in all we all agreed it was a great experience.  The story turned out wonderful, and they even checked with me to make sure the details were right before they went to print.  Which is so appreciated!  How many newspaper stories and articles have we been in where I’ve been misquoted, and details were shared that were totally off the mark? 

Let’s just say, a lot.

They had just the right mix of professionalism and friendliness.  I’m thankful for the experience.  It’s been a long seven months waiting for the Fall Edition to come out…but this week it rolled out into stores and mailboxes!

You can get it at Costco, or Barnes and Noble.  I’ve seen it at my local Safeway and Whole Foods as well!  So keep an eye out.  The front looks like this:

 And there are TEN whole pages about our family in there.  

 I know!  So wicked awesome!

Do you have any more questions?  I think I was pretty thorough, but I’m totally available for interviews.  (Or you could just put your question in the comments section below.  That would work too.)

Pick up a copy! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where everybody knows your name.

This picture makes me happy.

 Lora, Wendy, Misty, Me, Joanne

This is why.

I met these women four years ago online.  I’m not sure how it started exactly, but we began Sunday night chats not long after getting to know each other.  Honestly, most of the chats were refreshing pages, and starting new rooms because someone got lost in cyberspace, but somewhere in the small moments were able to connect, we got to know each other.  We got down to the nitty gritty of our lives and spoke about things too personal to put on our blogs.

A lot of it was just silliness too.  Okay.  Most of it.

Somehow the chats got fewer and far between, but thankfully we all became active on Facebook so the interactions didn’t end.

 They aren’t all in this picture, but there was a big group of these women that held me up after Ryan’s diagnosis.  Because they knew me, and most everything about me, they knew how to help.  They knew what I needed, before I even did.

They excelled at being friends when I needed it most.

So arriving at the aptly titled "Friends for Life" and finding some of them there was like Norm walking into Cheers.  Like…everyone knew my name.  I felt completely comfortable around them.  (Maybe too comfortable?)  We giggled like little girls about most everything.  It was fun just to laugh again.  It was fun to get out on the dance floor and dance again.  It was fun to be around women that knew what I needed:  Love.  Support.  Friendship.  Fun.

Their friendship means the world to me; I love my sisters from other misters!

Also wonderful was meeting up with more friends that I had met online.  Sara, Brian and Jeanette.  They were all game to hang with our family at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  It was really nice not having to put our noses in a map the entire time.  They knew the good rides, (hello, Jungle Cruise!)  And they knew the lame ones.  We were able to navigate Disney like professionals.  6 people with diabetes and three without.  We pretty much rocked that equation.

M, J, L, B, Brian, Sara, Jeanette

Need to eat lunch now?  I totally get it.

Need a battery 5 minutes ago?  They had it.  (Full story HERE.)

Misinterpreting my son on the motor coach to Disney when he said he has 6 units left in his pump, when later it was revealed that he had 6 units on board, (and 70 units left,) only after we McGyvered L’s set with his after lunch?  We all laughed about it.

Perfect blood sugars right before getting ice cream?  We all cheered.

Hug after hug from Facebook friends and those that read my blog.  It was a thrill every time  when the synapses fired, and the light bulb went off, realizing who they were.  If I miss anything about Ryan, it's his awesome bear hugs.  I think my hug tank was filled up at FFL.  Hugs for the win!

 I’m pretty sure it might be harmful, because in essence, I’m teaching my boys that everyone you meet online is completely awesome.

But, you know, you win some and you lose some as a parent.

Have diabetes, will travel.  (And smile the entire time doing it.)