Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Meri's Christmas

I have been MIA and I am sorry. :( I have missed so much. I was able to get glimpses of blogs and FB posts here and there, but having Christmas with all 4 boys home has left me very little “me time." I’ve been forced to sleep in most mornings, and by the time we have breakfast and get dressed, my hubby’s home from work (early this past week,) and then we are out the door for some fun.

I know...Poor me.

My husband has gotten into the habit of calling my blogger time my “work." I’ll be on the computer and he’ll come in and say, “Oh! I didn’t realize you were working. How much longer until your work is done? Leave mom alone…she is working!” And the boys have all jumped on board too…”What time will you be done with work mom, we want to go to the park!”

But this morning my friends, THIS MORNING….I am alone! My sister in law kidnapped the boys last night for a sleep over and the hubby and I went to dinner and a movie. He had to leave for work at 3:00 this morning, so I have woken up to silence. I have the Christmas tree on, the shutters closed and a big cup of hot chocolate by my side.

{Big deep sigh}

I’ve got a lot of “work” to do…but I feel lazy.

So, in my laziness, I will put my thoughts into list form.

Five Bits of Meri Christmas Info...

1) My boys were spoiled. I thought getting a laptop for them would make my life easier. (They are always stealing mine.) But alas…It is making my brain explode. I have to monitor everything they do… (I’m over protective that way,) and it seems they are growing up way too fast. My oldest asked if he could download some of my husband’s old CD’s…sure…well I found next to his laptop Pink Floyd and 3 Led Zeppelin CD’s. I’m not ready for this people!

2) I was spoiled. I got a flash for my SLR camera…and it is HUGE. It is now named Gigantor. I also got a little point and shoot camera for my purse and a sweet necklace with all our names on it. LOVE IT!!!

3) I found out the hard way that I cannot bolus correctly for poured chocolate fudge cake. I failed that one miserably. I thought I was being aggressive…but it turns out, I was a mamby pamby. :(

4) A good bit of advice, If there is family drama that is not immediately in the room, but playing out thousands of miles away…a good family board game will bring back the Christmas spirit!

5) Lastly, I discovered if you failed miserably bolusing for a certain dessert one night, over blousing for everything else the next day will not make it better. Chasing lows sucks. Not that I did this…not that I didn’t do this…Ok yes I did this. I’m not claiming to be a genius. (Lawton was happy though…he alerted a record number of times and received his rewards in full.)

SO there ya go…a little insight about what has been going on with little ol’ me. We had a really wonderful low key Christmas.

On a side note, I do know about the myriad of surgeries going on today, on New Year’s Eve, and coming up soon…and I want you all to know that I am praying for you. Especially today for Kelly and her Father. I am thankful for who you all are…for the love and laughter you have brought into my life. Together our prayers can make a difference. My thoughts are with you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hoping for a merry little Christmas

I heard this song yesterday and it made me think of all of you.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Troubles out of sight…troubles miles away?

We can hope…right?

I can remember…man I feel old…I can remember YEARS when J’s diabetes didn’t rule our lives. There were years when he was dialed in, years that he didn’t need many basel changes. His insulin to carb ratio was 1 unit for 20g of carbs for almost 4 years. He was checking his own blood sugar…he was blousing himself. I know it is hard to fathom for those of you who have little ones…but honestly, diabetes was no big deal.

Everyone is different. I don’t know you-know you…so I can’t promise the same for you…but I CAN promise that there will come a time when the worry will sit with you, rather than do jumping jacks on your head all the time. (Hello, we’ve all had pounding worry headaches!) Better times are to come. I always say, the first year is the hardest…well the following 3 years ain’t that great either…but things will settle a bit…and life will become life again, not just a diabetic life, but a family life.

Now that I have three diabetics…I yearn for the days of calm. I know they exist…and when I get a week of good numbers I can’t help but sigh, a happy remembering sigh. I remember the calm and I remember the storms…but honestly…my brain is a little fuzzy remembering all the details. When those of you need help…baby diabetes help…my brain is like HUH? I can’t remember…I’ve blocked it out. It is like the pain of childbirth…you know you endured it, but the joy of having a happy child trumps all the bad…all the work…and all the sleepless nights. I personally, try not to dwell on the hard times. I’m probably a hopeless optimistic but I won’t let diabetes make the boys lives miserable…and I make an effort not to let them see me completely miserable simply because diabetes threw us a curve ball. Sure, diabetes can be tragic…but not in my home. In my home it’s like doing the laundry. It’s just something that has to be taken care of.

Was I always this way? No. When I was in the thick of it I cried for months at a time. But I’ve come through that and now I am on the other side. I like it better here. :) I look at it all differently. I try to keep the guilt at bay. I look at my boys and I think, if they are happy…I should be happy.

Maybe I am lucky. Maybe my boys are different. But I don’t think so. As my boys have gotten older, they don’t complain about diabetes. Children have a way of accepting and acclimating…especially those diagnosed early on. The guilt will ebb a little as you see how strong they are. Diabetic children are a special breed. They accept easily…they have empathy for others…they learn responsibility at a young age…they appreciate the little things.

I always say…one day at a time. But don’t stop yourself from looking down the road. The sunrise is always in the distance my friends. Keep an eye towards the horizon…you will find your hope.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pancreas

If I wrote a screenplay with the above title, I wonder if I would have copyright issues...

Last night our family attended my oldest son’s music concert at the high school. Our entire family came out in force. Not only did my husband and I go with all of our boys, but so did both sets of grandparents.

Ryan and I were the last in the auditorium, and as I went to meet my family, I found my mother in law sitting next to my favorite D Mom in town, (who is also my favorite coffee/hot chocolate date.)

As we chatted about the kids, my three diabetics wrangled some dollar bills from my husband, and went to the bake sale to get some goodies. (Something that would hopefully keep them happy for part of the long concert that was ahead of us.)

L came back with a little cupcake.

J came back with a medium size cupcake.

B came back with a blueberry muffin. A sensible choice one would think…except it wasn’t…this muffin was as big as his head.

My d friend and I laughed. A comfortable, knowing laugh. Then we traded guesses on the carb amounts of this mondo-sized muffin.

We decided on 80g, but I only gave B the go ahead to eat half of it. Which he did. Meticulously nibbling and trying to get it to exactly half.

He ended up going low less than an hour later…maybe due to the fact that this muffin was actually 71 carbs…but probably more due to the fact that I over bloused him for the pot roast I made that night.

So he ate it all.

And to watch this boy eat it was like watching a cat catch a mouse. The joy was undeniable.

Also undeniable was the overwhelming feeling I had sitting next to my friend last night. I felt warm….I felt good…

I felt NORMAL.

Generally sitting in a group like that, I don’t feel like I fit in. I’m not the same as these people. My life is complicated. But last night it was different. I wasn’t conscious of the blood sugar monitor I had clipped to my belt loop…I fit in. Isn’t that why we cry when we get Christmas cards from other D moms? Because for a moment, we fit in. These D moms live similar lives…they more than anyone know what our days are like, and although we are not misfits by any means…there is always an underlying emotion that those in our communities don’t 100% know us, or anything of the constant worry that sits with us.

We can blend in…but fitting in is another story.

We are the Sisterhood of the traveling pancreas…or pancreata, (or pancreases…They both show to be correct in the online dictionaries. :)

We are a special breed.

We are mobile pancreata…now, how many people can say that?

Monday, December 14, 2009

I just can't help it.

You wouldn’t believe it…but things have been calm here on the western front. All my diabetics are pretty dialed in, and I’m in my snug/happy/comfortable place…the place I stay before the next storm comes in.

I think this all lends to my writers block. I’ve been seriously stuck.

Regardless of my stuckedness…I have been in my own little world lately, reflecting on diabetes and how it has taken over our lives. I’ve been so preoccupied with it, I even found it hard to listen to the dear man speaking at the pulpit yesterday at church. It’s just; I couldn’t take my eyes off J’s fingers. I would trace each fingertip, feeling the roughness of his calluses. Remembering back to the years of checks we had to do…sometimes many in a one hour period when he was very little. I could see which fingers he favored…his thumbs untouched by the lancet. I thought of him growing up and married. I thought of the things they will have to face as a couple with a Type 1 Diabetic as patriarch. The insurance problems…the worry his wife will endure during the lows…

And even with all of this, I couldn’t help but smile. It goes against my dreary diabetic outlook, but somewhere deep down, I feel like there will be a breakthrough in the future that will make his, and my other diabetics, lives easier. Maybe it’s the time of year…maybe I’m in denial…but I have hope.


No, not necessarily for a cure…but hope for help. Hope for a better way to handle their diabetes. A miracle of sorts. I mean just 8 years ago, insulin pumps were new to young children. Now it is the go to treatment at UCSF no matter what the age. Things change. And with diabetes…things will change for the better. Maybe it will be a Continuous Glucose Monitor that is accurate, and fingers will be able to heal. Maybe it will be a new magic insulin that knows how much to release, and we won’t need to count carbs. Maybe it will be an islet breakthrough. I don’t know. But something is coming… something wonderful.

At least that is what I keep telling myself.

I think that someday we will look back and wonder how we did it with such crude and barbaric tools. The genius of today will give out to the genius of tomorrow.

And when this happens…I won’t be bitter. I won’t be upset that I didn’t have these magic tools when they were young. I will be grateful, and I will see them as answers to our prayers. All our prayers have to be making a difference…right?

The wheels are turning. Progress is being made. Not as fast as we would like, but time isn’t standing still…and everyday something new is discovered.

Until then, I want to offer this…

Ladies, we are being watched over. When we feel alone, we are not. We have angels to help us…I really believe that. I also believe that our prayers are heard, and the good Lord is smiling at our impatience. He knows we will be ok. He knows our children will thrive no matter what the circumstances.

Help will come.

I just can’t help but hope.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I won! I really won!

Thanks Lora for this sweet award. :)

As a condition for receiving this award, I’m supposed to write about 5 things that I love. Easy peasy lemon squeezy…

1) My husband. He is goofy, loving, supportive and works like a dog to keep this family going. There aren’t a lot of things I can count on in life…but Ryan is one thing I CAN count on. He is my everything…my partner in crime…my partner for life.

2) M. The first thing he asks me when he gets in the car after school is, “How was your day Mom?” He is as good as a 14 year old can get. It pains me to watch him grow up so quickly, and sometimes I feel like I haven’t really ‘spoken’ to him in days…but he still kisses me goodnight…and he still says “I love you” first when ending a phone call with me.

3) J. He hugs me every day. He still calls me Mama. He still calls me ‘gorgeous.’ He has had a very hard time remembering to check his blood sugars at school this year. Last week I told him I would text him to remind him and then he can text me his number back. Since texting is cool…this has been a HUGE success. He always texts me right back with his number. He also still tells me he loves me at the end of phone calls.

4) B. He doesn’t hug…he leans. But when he kisses you, it’s a wet one for sure. He skips; he laughs at everything…he loves life. He eats every bite of his lunch everyday…which makes it uber easy to count carbs for him. He wants to be 12 like his big brother, which I think leads to his responsible nature.

5) L. He is a miracle. From the day he was born he has only been a blessing in our lives. He talks our ears off, he is constantly up to something…and always has some kind of project going. Every day I see his growth. He gives THE BEST hugs and tilts his head when he is telling you something important. He is the model kindergartner…he can concentrate and be silly at the same time.

So without further ado…5 friends who I would like to pass this very prestigious award on to…who can just make a list and not write a novel like me if they super really don’t want to do this…are…

Megann at My Life with Diabetes
Wendy at Candy Hearts
Joanne at Death of a Pancreas
Shannon at The Crazy-Good Life of Mommy Going Crazy
Kelly at Chasing Numbers

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good Peeps

Sometimes, when I am driving down the street and I see a complete stranger walking or driving next to me...I'll think, "I wonder what their story is?" It fascinates me that each of the hundreds of people I see everyday have their own intricate fascinating life. Sure, they might not think that their life is fascinating, but I am convinced there isn't one that is not. Yup, I AM nosey...and I LOVE to eavesdrop...but at the same time, I am fully aware that often I get caught up in my own problems and my own life, so much so, that those lives walking around me seem to just melt away.

I think it is a rare treat to actually be able to look up from your own life and really get to know someone better. Blogging does this for me. I can forget about myself for a little while and be a support or an open ear to someone else. Our blogging community is a world in itself...it is almost a fantasy land. A land where I can leave all my imperfections behind and be the brave, reflective person I truly want to be.

SO truth be told, When Joanne said she was coming to our area, I felt a little bit like Seinfeld's George Castanza when his friends started doing things with his girlfriend. Worlds were colliding! And so it was with my meeting with Joanne. Worlds HAD collided...and it felt completely surreal. Here is my husband, and my mother in law talking to Joanne. MY JOANNE! I'm not often at a loss for words...but I felt a little star struck meeting her. She is one of my closest friends in the blogging world...how would it be in "real" life?

Well let me tell you...it was easy. Joanne is just like her blog. She is everything you think she is and more. She reminds me a lot of my sister Laura, with a little bit of groin kicking thrown in. :) We met at a restaurant alone for the first time. It was easy and natural. The conversation lasted for a good three hours. Filling in the gaps of what we knew of each other. Then Fred and Elise joined us and the entire picture of Joanne was complete. Like me, her family helps define who she is. They are her everything...and rightfully so, they are wonderful too.

My Mother in law invited them over for Sunday dinner. It was a nice relaxing night of eating and chatting. Elise fit in with the boys easily. She is unbelievable smart...and listens to reason, which is incredibly impressive for a two year old. The pictures on Joannes blog do not do her justice. She is a an angel. And Fred is quite the catch. He is funny and polite, and even helped with the dinner dishes.

Good peeps. That is all I can say.

Good peeps. :)

Before blogging, before being connected to our community, It pains me to think that Joanne could have walked right by me and I wouldn't have looked up from my life long enough to get to know her.

I am thankful for blogs. I am thankful for Joanne and all of YOU for so much support. I am thankful for the opportunity I have to look past myself and delve into others lives. To worry for them, to celebrate with them...to love them...even if they are in a blog world/fantasy land. I am lucky to know all of you...and especially lucky to actually have met Joanne and her family.

Someday....SOMEDAY! We will have a Blog Mama meeting. And we will hug together, cry together and laugh together. Until then I will keep reading and commenting...because that is what friends do.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The merry go round of cars

Most of you know that our car broke down in Oregon while we were coming home from our Thanksgiving vacation. While it was a miracle that we broke down in a Klamath Falls, and not in the middle of nowhere...it was an ordeal I hope never to relive. We broke down at 1:15, and luckily there was one rental car place in town open until 3:00 who had a car we could take back to Cali. We were sent on the road in this...a Toyota Sienna.

We had to return the van the next day and luckily my father keeps this little baby laying around for emergencies...

As fun as it was driving my fathers very interestinly rigged 1998 Dodge Caravan, Saturn secured us a rental car until our car was fixed. We went to Enterprise and this is what the had for us...a Chevy Malibu...

All I can say is we hated this car. It was too small to fit all of us and very uncomfortable to drive. They told us that Saturn would only let us rent a GM car, and if they had a bigger one come in they would give us a ring. The next morning the call came...a Chevy Silverado was waiting for us. It seated 6 and was uber fun to drive!

We found out Thursday afternoon that our car was fixed. The water pump had a leak, which in turn overheated the engine and made the entire computer system shut down. Ryan and I left for Oregon at 2:00am and got home at 3:30pm. I slept the entire way there...(I know I'm an awful person!) But was able...BARELY...to stay awake the whole way home. 5 cars in 6 days!!! WHEW! We are SO happy to have our car back!!!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Game on!

Lately I have been questioning myself. I have been questioning my ability to bolus and count carbs correctly.

The news of Alec Temple passing away in the night from a diabetic seizure really scared me.

Then reading blogs and seeing how others meticulously count carbs…and weigh…I don’t do things so scientifically. I’ve been wondering where I get my confidence from. How do I count and guess carbs so nonchalantly? I think it is because that is the way we were taught. Back in 1998 the nutritionist purposely taught us how to estimate. That is all I know. Sure we used to measure every single bite that went into J’s mouth…but we were encouraged to count carbs on our own. Use the book when there is a new food. Measure if you are not sure. But otherwise…make an educated guess.

And now, all of a sudden, that scares me. I am scared I will count incorrectly, or over bolus. I am second guessing myself all over the place, and for a few days I was under blousing “just in case.” I don’t want my child to pass out…or worse. I know we all feel the weight of this disease on our shoulders…but one mistake…just one mistake and things can get scary.

So, I’ve been extra nervous…which we all know helps nothing. Extra nervousness only makes things extra worse. So since I am a logical, and I like to think, kinda’ smart person…I have been talking myself off the ledge and building up my confidence with the fact that I have done it this long, I have nothing to be overly worried about. So I went back to being aggressive with my boluses, and for the most part all has been well. The boys have been having a lot of lows since our last endo appointment. Our doctor made A LOT of changes, but we have been adjusting…and have been successfully catching the lows before they get TOO low.

Until the day before yesterday.

We were at my in laws and Lawton alerted us just 15 minutes after dinner. My husband and I rolled our eyes…he probably has to pee. So my husband went and opened the back door and called him. Lawton looked at me reluctantly and went outside. Usually he won’t go unless he has to “do his business” so we figured that is what he was alerting us to. By the time Lawton got back inside we were getting jackets on and heading out the door. Usually we don’t rush home, but my 9th grader had homework to do…so we ran out and headed home.

We were home maybe a half hour when B came in. “Mom, what does low mean?”

“What are you talking about honey?”

“I just checked my sugar and it says low…here, see…L-O.”


I tore the cupboards open looking for juice…we don’t keep it in the house. I know we should, but honestly we very ,very rarely, like hardly EVER, get a number under 60. I poured out the Halloween candy and threw him some Smarties…"start with this…eat them all fast"…then I found YoGos and dumped them into his hand. My husband remembered he had a Capri Sun in the car, so J ran out and got that. B drank and ate…and came up to 68 pretty quickly.

Crap!!! Crap. Crap. Crap.

The psychology of a medical alert dog is pretty easy to understand. If he doesn’t get a treat for alerting…it is over. He won’t alert. He had alerted me earlier in the day while we were out and about, and I had nothing to give him for a reward. He wasn’t happy. And then for him to alert later, and us ignore him…in his eyes, they game wasn’t being played…so he wasn’t going to alert us again. I absolutely take for granted all the peace of mind he gives us. How many extreme lows were averted because of him? Probably hundreds. He catches the boys’ drops usually before they hit the 70’s. He keeps them safe…and I need to be very careful to make sure he always knows the game is on. He plays the game for the treat. He plays for the love and the accolades.

Last night Lawton finally alerted again…and you can bet your glucagon stash that we gave him a giant treat and partied it up.

The game is back on.

Thank God.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm back baby!!

10 Things I learned this Thanksgiving

1) If you leave on a long trip at 2:00 in the morning, thinking the kids will sleep most of the way, your thinking may be completely wrong.

2) A human being can easily live on pumpkin pie alone.

3) Renting a house is fun, but you have to cook and do dishes…which is not always fun.

4) If boys play video games for 2 days straight, they can still communicate with real people if engaged.

5) It turns out, I no longer want an electric flat surface cook top. It is way too stressful to keep clean.

6) 12 people generate more garbage in 4 days than one would think. This is especially apparent if the garbage can in the garage only fits two bags of said garbage.

7) Husbands may be reluctant to go shopping on Black Friday, but if they do, they are more apt to impulse shop than any other.

8) If you have a million desserts around, your diabetics WILL want to eat them... for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND all the snacks in between.

9) If your car is only two years old, this does not mean it will not break down when you are 380 miles from home.

10) Rental car companies want your first born child if you need a van only going one way into another state.

Thanksgiving was great. Really, really great. Lots of great family, lots of great food, and lots of room in this awesome house I found through weeks of blood, sweat and tears searching the web.

Black Friday was great. Really, really great. Lots of deals, lots of electronics bought, lots of movies for the ride home bought for 3.99. The line around Target almost gave me a mini seizure, but my sister in law and I took turns waiting in line and shopping. We were quite the tag team.

The diabetic’s sugars were great. Really, really great. L did have high sugars one night, but otherwise everything went pretty smoothly. I owe most of the success to Lawton. I could be aggressive with the boluses because I knew he would alert me if there was a potential problem…which he did. Man, I really take that dog for granted sometimes…

The food I ate was great. Really, really great. Lots of desserts (Hello pie, cookies, donuts, fudge and apple bread!), and lots of Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. A lotta love went into each dish, for sure.

The ride home sucked. Really, really sucked.

Our car…our NEWISH car….our 2 ½ years old car…broke.

It just broke.

I woke up a couple hours into our trip home with my hubby pulling off the road. “Are we getting gas?” I asked. “No” he replied, “Our car is overheating.” And sure enough there was smoke and all sorts of warnings on our dash, including our stabilitrak shutting down. We added water to the engine, but the sensor still went all the way to nuclear hot. We have OnStar and they were pretty helpful…a little too perky for the moment if you know what I mean, but helpful none the less. Not one repair shop was open on Sunday in the ho-bunk town we were in. Our OnStar plan would tow us to the nearest Saturn dealer, 88 miles away in Medford, Oregon… going west…we needed to go south to Cali. So we said goodbye to the tow truck driver and our SUV, and rented a van to get home. You should have seen us making the drive to the rental place in our broke car…we were so pathetic. My hubby would drive to get the car up to speed, and then turn it off to coast in neutral as long as we could. It was seriously a miracle we made it there.

We still have no idea what is wrong with the car and we still have no idea how we’ll get it back.

Our 8 hour trip home turned to 13. The kids couldn’t watch the movies I bought, so it was up to them to entertain themselves. L in particular was sitting in the very back of the van by himself…bored to death. He sang the ABC’s at least 30 times, using different voices. The other boys took turns passing around the only Nintendo DS with battery life.

We are safe and sound at home, and that is all that matters. My dad dropped off his old van for us to use…the boys have to take off one shoe while we drive to swat the spiders that happen to crawl by…but we are EXTRAEMLY thankful to have something to get around in.

I’m a little overwhelmed getting ready for Christmas…and I am behind reading blogs…and missed the Sunday chat because of our car debacle…I feel out of the loop…and I love my loop. I want to be back in the loop!

So here is my first, rather lame attempt of a post to get back into the loop…
I’m back baby!!

P.S. Note to self…never ever allow the boys to eat Captain Crunch again. EVER. I don't care if you ARE on vacation..Don't do it!