Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The only constant, is change.

A little insight on J. J was always a skinny little guy.

To give you a little perspective, here are some facts:

*L who is in Kindergarten, is wearing pants that J wore in 2nd AND 3rd grade.

*J had the same carb ratio AND correction ratio for 4 years! K-3.

*J who is in 6th grade, is only 2 inches shorter than my 2nd grader. (But to be fair, B is REALLY tall.)

*J’s little buttie and hips were depleted from so many years of shots. He was too skinny to get injections anywhere else. He needed some fat to slow down the insulin because he was so skinny.

But J is changing. He is 12 now and has started puberty. He has gained a lot of weight and is finally growing. Within one year he has completely transformed. I recently looked at Christmas pictures that I thought were from 2 years ago, but they were actually from 1 year ago. He was so tiny then…not anymore.

J is extremely happy he is growing now. Maybe not happy about the extra weight...he has quite a tummy, but trust me when I tell you, that wearing the same size shoe for 3 years didn’t sit well with him.

So here he is….just growing….and changing….and it’s happening right before our eyes.

Last night though, it really socked us in the head.

Lawton alerted and the boys ran to check their blood sugar. (If you are imagining happy boys skipping cheerfully to their blood sugar monitors, you would be wrong. They were watching a program and wanted to get their check in during a commercial. It was a scramble if anything.)

Anyway…Lawton alerts…they check…and they report back to us. All of them were in the low 100’s with extra insulin on board. It was J’s report though that threw us for a loop.

“I am 139, with a correction needed of 0.8 units and I have 1.9 units on board.”

What the! (Not What the! about the insulin on board...What the! about his correction.)

My husband shook his head….”No way J. There is no way that is right. You are 139 and you need a correction of o.8? What is your target, 50??”

Giggles ensued as my hubby and J started calculating in their heads what his correction ratio was. My husband was rolling on the ground laughing…He kept saying ”There is no way!"

You see, to us, J is still that little boy. His correction ratio was for so much of his life, 1 unit of insulin to bring his blood sugar down 100 points.

While my math enthusiasts were figuring out ratios in their head, I grabbed J's pump and looked up what his sensitivity was. Sure enough, 1 unit is needed to bring him down 50.

What the!

That explains my eye twitching at night when I correct J. If his pump tells me to give him 2 units there is always panic in my tummy…my knee jerk reaction is ALWAYS, “That can’t be right.” But it is.

Change happens whether we want it or not.

We are constantly changing basal rates and ratios. It seems they never just gradually need more insulin…it always happens suddenly. Out of nowhere, someone will start having numbers in the 400’s. After going through days of troubleshooting, it always becomes apparent. A change needs to be made, they need more insulin. But why so suddenly? Why no warning? As they get older, I can see it more clearly, but when they were tiny, it was WHAM! HE NEEDS MORE INSULIN, NOW!!!

You would think changes would happens like this…

But it seems they always happens like this…

Maybe I am too busy and overwhelmed to notice the steady rise in insulin needs. Maybe.

But if there is anything constant with diabetes…it’s that nothing stays the same.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Strong, but human.

I get my feelings hurt sometimes. Yes, I’m human. I’m fragile.

Don’t confuse my strong will with numbness.

Don’t confuse my positive outlook with complacency.

Don’t confuse my outspokenness with arrogance.

I feel.

Just because I have shown myself able to handle even the most difficult situations in life, it doesn’t mean I don’t breakdown. It doesn’t mean I don’t question myself.

I need empathy, just like the next guy.

The dictionary defines empathy as: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

Then the dictionary says:
See: Pity

Which at first ticked me off, because who wants pity? But I looked it up anyway and it says this:

Pity: Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.

Pity then sends you over to compassion.

Compassion: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

I am not a robot. I need these things sometimes.

Do I want people constantly patting me on the back, telling me they are so sorry for the life I live?


Do I want people looking at me, shaking their heads wondering how I ever do it?


But don’t tell me that what I go through and what my children go through is no big deal.

Don’t tell me to get over it.

And for goodness sakes, don’t keep your distance from me because you don’t understand what I am going through, or because you don’t know what to say.

Or because you think I don’t need you… because I am so strong.

I need a measure of empathy. A small measure of understanding.

I have a friend. She has a son that has seizures. Not just once in a while. They are all day, every day. Because of this she home schools the rest of her kids. She cannot leave him. Her life revolves around her son. In turn, her life does not exist. Her family suffers. And as a mother, her suffering is intense. To have to watch your child go through something like that? He is growing into a young man, but is like a 3 year old. He can’t speak. He cannot control his bodily functions. The ambulance came to her house four times last year. Each seizure she is forced to wonder, “Is this it? Will he live through this one?”

And she is on the edge.

I spoke to her recently. She is able to speak to me a little about it, because she can see that my situation, although not nearly as upsetting, is somewhat similar. Because generally, people do not understand the strain a chronic illness can put on a mothers psyche.

People think she is so strong and capable, that they choose not to see that she is vulnerable and that she is hurting.

Some think she is bitter. When really all she is doing is surviving. She needs to be strong.

The bottom line is: if she is not strong, all is lost.

I think it is with any situation. Loss of job or financial trouble. Death of a loved one or sickness of a family member. Cancer or diabetes. It comes with the territory: If you are not living it, you cannot truly understand the pain.

So what can one do?

See past the wall.

Love. Hug. support. Repeat.

And try not to compare. Just because someones situation "could be worse," or doesn't seem like the end of the world to you...dosn't mean what a person is going through isn't devastating or heartbreaking to them.

Just because someone handles something brilliantly 90% of the time, does not mean this someone doesn’t break down and feel alone in life sometimes.

Strong people need to know that they are loved too. Small words, small gestures...can hurt strong people. In turn small words or small gestures can lift up strong people.

Maybe you do not understand why a person acts, or handles things a certain way. Maybe this person is strong, or annoying, or brash. But regardless...this person needs to know you care.

They just need to know. And that is why I blog. That is why I facebook. Because when I write that we were up all night with high blood sugars…I get responses from people who care. Maybe they don’t totally understand, but they say things to me like, “I’m sorry.” Or “That must have been awful!” Or “Yes! I was up all night with my daughter…I totally know what you went through!” Or maybe they say something funny to lighten the mood. It isn’t mindless drivel about my day.

It is what I need, and probably what everyone in the world needs…A small measure of understanding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boy #5

He’s becoming a person.

I was one of those people that hated when pet owners spoke of the “amazing” animals in their lives… like how cute they were, and the adorable shenanigans that they would get themselves into. I never got it. I honestly would secretly roll my eyes and patiently endure until the end of the conversation or until I could politely change the subject. I wasn’t rude by any means…I would always inject a polite, “No way!” or nod my head and give an understanding closed mouth smile.

But it wasn’t real. I never had that kind of connection to an animal…it all seemed silly…

Until now.

Our yellow lab Lawton has become my fifth boy. He has a hilarious personality and is constantly making me laugh with his human like ways. Seriously, his eyebrows tell a story. They are constantly moving in reaction to whatever is going on in the room.

I know…I’m such a dork.

So for those of you who don’t get it (and I promise I don’t hold it against you)…I’ll TRY to keep this brief…

The other day, after all the chores were done and the boys were sweet talking me into playing video games, I exclaimed that they were free to do what they wanted, as long as they gave me a hug.

B was the first to jump up. He leaned in…and gave me his famous sideways hug.

L was right behind B hugging my waist with all the strength a 6 year old could muster.

Before M and J could jump off the couch…Lawton was up and over to me nudging his head into my thigh and licking my hand. He then nonchalantly walked away to where the boys would be playing video games. I received the last of the hugs for the day from M and J. (Hello, my dog hugged me! I am not kidding!)
{{{{DORK ALERT}}}}

When my husband got home from work a couple days ago, we all went to hug him and that was when Lawton jumped gently up to my husband, paws on his chest and leaned in, paused for a second, and then hopped down, and then walked away like it was the most normal thing. HE. HUGGED. HIM!

(I’m almost done…you can do it!)

But yesterday was the best! And I say that with all the enthusiasm of a loony pet owner…

Yesterday I was filing in J’s 6th grade class. J’s entire class was in the multi use room practicing for their play, so I was alone most of the time… but they came in the last fifteen minutes I was there to take a test. Lawton was under the table I was working at. When J came in Lawton jumped up and waited for J to come over to him and give him some love. J nuzzled him a bit and returned to his desk to take the test. What followed was a sight I will never forget.

Lawton began to crawl…like commando crawl…across the classroom. Quiet as a mouse. Stopping now and then making sure he wasn’t being detected. His head would swing side to side, checking that no one was noticing what he was doing. I could just make out his eyebrows rising as they reacted to the sound of the teacher’s voice giving directions in front of the class. He would crawl. Stop. Look. Crawl. J was aware of what Lawton was doing and watched horrified that his teacher would see.

Luckily she didn’t have a clue. (Ya, he was THAT good...)

So yeah, I’m one of THOSE people that see dogs hanging their heads out of car windows and laugh at the expressions on their face. And giggle when I see a dog manipulating his owner to go where he wants to go…

But if I’m being honest…and y’all know I always try to be completely honest

I still don’t get cats.

Sorry mom…I totally snore during your “cute” cat stories. For real.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tiny Bubbles and a Speck.

Tonight B’s tubing broke. It seems to crack a lot right near the reservoir. It usually goes undetected until a there is a crazy out of nowhere high blood sugar. The insulin drips out there, and then B ends up not getting any of it. An old friend of mine once told me to write down all the ones that break and call Medronic with the info. But that takes time and effort…and I’m lacking in both areas these days.

So tonight a 460 popped up and immediately B looked at his pump and said, “Yup, it's cracked Mom.”

I think it is important to note here that my hubby is in charge of set changes. I deal with the calls from school, I deal with most of the carb counting and nighttime checks…HE deals with the set changes. It displaces some of my guilt and takes some of the load off of my shoulders. Sure, I've had to do it now and then…and honestly it isn’t THAT big of a deal…

But it’s those freakin’ bubbles that get me every time!

Tiny bubbles…how big is too big? Sure champagne bubbles are OK, but I don’t drink champagne people…how big is too big? I flick, I push it back in, I flick and flick…but I can’t get them to go. My husband is AWESOME at it. One flick of the wrist and he has a full reservoir full of insulin that is as flat as tap water.

So anyway…tonight B’s tubing cracked and he needed a set change. My husband was out for the evening so I took the easy way out. I attached one of the other boys pumps and corrected his blood sugar and then added his basel for the next three hours.

But, it didn’t work.

He was high as a rouge balloon and wasn’t coming down.

He either A) Needed a shot, Or B) Needed a set change.

I was totally going to go with B.

“I’ve gotta give you a shot honey.”

“UHG! I REALLY don’t like shots Mom.”

“I know B. You should know, I REALLY don’t like giving them either.”

Then he says, “They don’t really hurt…it’s just the thought of them that makes it so awful.”

So as I was looking for a needle, I suddenly bucked up…

“Meri,” I thought….”Meri, you are a grown up. Put the freakin' set together and get it done with. He either gets one shot or two. It depends on you. What are you made of? You are no wimp!

So I gathered the necessary supplies and got down to business. J was by my side. Ryan has been giving him lessons lately, but he too has a bubble problem. I thought between the two of us, we could get it done. I finally got the insulin to what I thought was a good place…but as I showed it to J, we noticed a giant bubble on the top.

“Do it again Mom.”

“What if I just push it out?”

“Do it again Mom.”

(sheesh, what a slave driver.)

So I did it again and this time he gave me a pass. (It was close though.)

So B’s pump was all back together, we primed it and inspected the tubing…


So I call in B and after a bit of negotiating, we decide on a place to put it.

He closes his eyes and whispers, “Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.” And then screams, “GO!”

I pop it in and his eyes pop open and he gives me a look. A terrifying look of shock.

“What???!!! What did I do???” I’m freaking out here…what did I do to my boy?

“Wow Mom…it was just like Dad does it! It felt like a speck.”

A long conversation ensued…what did he mean… a speck? He went on to explain that a speck was like in Horton Hears A Who, that it is something so tiny it’s hard to even know it’s there…”Kinda’ like a whoosh.” he said.

I’m pretty proud of myself for taking the leap. I stop myself from doing a lot of things because I lack the confidence. But I’m feeling a little daring these days.

What could be next?

I’m excited to find out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Help Wanted

Stunt double for 1:30am blood sugar checks.

Must have legs of iron for bumping into bed corners in the dark, and toes of steel for dresser edges and random toy bumpage. When awakened by the alarm, an instant steady gate is paramount for not bumping like a drunk into walls and doors.

Must have the mind of Einstein at a moment’s notice, no matter how hard and intensely crazily you were dreaming seconds before. This is necessary to calculate intense algebraic equations and important for creative thinking when trying to get a child up to pee, while he is dead asleep and unable to wake.

Job position requires steady eye hand coordination while poking fingers that are sleepily being jerked away from you. And quick reflexes for grabbing the pump before the child dreamily rolls over and it disappears under sheets and stuffed animals. When feeding our diabetics becomes necessary, you must be well versed in such things as food absorption and the reading of food labels for carbohydrate counts, sugar and fat content.

Important! Do not apply for this job if you don’t have the presence of mind at an early hour to check that the toilet seat is down before you sit to pee, (or if you are male, the presence of mind to aim properly.)

Hours suck.

Pay sucks.

Rewards will be seen years down the road.

Wimps and whiners need not apply
Applications accepted at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Growing Up Meri

To commemorate my birthday, I would like to take you with me for a moment down Memory Lane. Starting with the above announcement of my birth. First off I want to point out that the giant brown spot on my cheek never existed. It must have been the flash from the camera or something. Other than that, there is no excuse for why I look like an Asian Sumo Wrestler...

Below you will find a sampling of pictures throughout my life. It was easy to choose only the cutest pics of me because apparently, that is all that I keep. I wanted to put in some truly awkward ones...put alas, they no longer exist.

So here I am...growing up Meri through the years...

Getting on the treadmill now...

Friday, January 8, 2010

This just in...

So first off I want to give a little update/report card on J yesterday. He texted me at snack (180) and before lunch (182.) He called me after lunch and I bolused him like I usually do, and then got a phone call from him 2 hours later that he was 52 with a b-load of insulin on board.

Let me break down my thoughts.

1) Looks like I need to adjust early morning basels, or his carb ratio for breakfast. But I want a few more days of numbers before I make any changes.

2) This was my first glimps in awhile of what his sugar is doing at snack time. I bolus much more agressivly on the weekends, because a) We have Lawton, and b) because he doesn't have PE and recess at home on the weekends.

3) I congratulated J on the snack test...and then followed up with, "Did you bolus for your snack?" Head hung low..."no." But then I went on to learn that he had a big fat cupcake for snack. WAIT! Your bg was 180 at 10:15am, you didn't didn't give insulin for a giant cupcake...and your bg was 182 two hours later? Has this kid really been doing himself a favor not bolusing for his snacks the past couple months??? (Of course I would never tell him that.) Obviously, if we are going to do things right and bolus like we are supposed to, things need to change. But food for thought...What if we left things the same and gave him a 30 carb snack everyday, and he wouldn't have to bolus. Dangerous I know, if he decides not to eat his snack. But J ALWAYS eats half his lunch at snack. It is wrong on so many levels...but I'm chewing on it in the back of my head.

4) Why the low after lunch? Things are more complicated here. Because he used to call me with his BG 30 minutes AFTER he ate lunch, I would always just have him correct and add a few more carbs depending on what he ate. (Not scientific in the least...but it was my failsafe system...he always came home in the low 100's.) But now I have different info and I have to start from scratch. It is pretty obvious his basels are too strong. But alot of work to do before we are where we are supposed to be.

So I give J and A for effort.

After writing up about the talk yesterday, and getting an uber generous offer from Kelly to use their CGM for awhile...I decided to call our nurse and get the low down on our insurance and coverage for CGM's. Hey...things change all the time. What did I have to lose?

She called me back at 4:30pm.

Yes, they can get a CGM for J.

No, it won't cost us anything.

Yes, it takes some creative paperwork...but they are on it.


We have an appointment next month with our endo. We will discuss it there, probably put the doctors sesor on J to let him try it out. And then once we order it, it should be here in a couple weeks.


I sat J down and asked him what he thought of getting a CGM. He had no idea what it was so I gave a brief explanation.

He gave me a crooked smile and said, "So it's a robot Lawton?"

"I guess you could say that..."

"I'll take it, but I still want Lawton with me at school sometimes."

It was a deal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Talk

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been putting it off because it is heartbreaking and hard. But it was time. J needed to hear it.

J has been “forgetting” to check his sugars all year at school. He often calls me at lunch and says, “I’m 330 Right Now.” He forgets to check before snack. He forgets to bolus for his snack. He forgets to check BEFORE he eats lunch. And then calls me after lunch with info on what he ate and his blood sugar in the aftermath of it all. I try to gently as possible make my point. I tell him it is not healthy for his body. That it isn’t safe. That he is hurting himself. He just doesn’t get it.


I sat him between my husband and me. He asked if we were going to talk about something serious.

I said yes.

I explained to him that it is a new year. Things are going to change. He is almost a teenager and more than able to take care of himself. When he was younger, I did it all for him. And he was fine with it. He wasn’t embarrassed if I called in the middle of class to remind him to check. He wasn’t embarrassed of me poking my head into class to get his carb amounts after lunch. But he is now. So if he doesn’t want me embarrassing him, then he needs to step up. Because for now on, if he doesn’t check…I WILL call…I WILL stop by. Not because I WANT to embarrass him, but because I love him.

The hardest part was explaining to him the damage he could be doing to himself. I had to tell him that diabetes will eat you alive if you ignore it. I had to tell him that he could lose his vision...that every organ in his body depends on him taking care of himself. I wasn’t too detailed or graphic, but I made my point.

I told him he could lead a healthy happy life….all he needed to do while he was at school was check his sugar at certain times of the day…and bolus before he puts any food in his mouth. I explained to him I have told him time and time again and I don’t know what to do anymore.

He said, “No mom, you have never told me this. I get it now. I can do it.”

We programmed his new watch to alarm right before snack time and right before lunch. I told him I don’t care if you are in the middle of a test, or on the other side of campus doing PE. When that alarm goes off. You go test. Period. And for the first month he must text me at both times with his number.

I hate demanding. I hate it. But what else is a mom to do? Sure, his last A1C was a pretty good 7.2, but he needs to learn good habits now. It’s not healthy. And what if he was low…it is scary not to know what is going on.

I would love to get him a CGM. But so far our insurance isn’t jiggy with it.

So we do what we have to do. I'm dying inside. I love him so much.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To all my D Mom friends...

To my D Momma's out there. I thought I would throw this your way. I propose that this be our song for the month,(or year...I'm OK with monopolizing all 12 months.) doesn't have to be officially sworn in during our chat or anything...but I think of all of you out there whenever I hear this song. (Which is a lot when I am on the treadmill.)

So...without further ado...for you...

(And if you don't like Glee...get over it, it is a great song!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Interviews From Our Diabetic Life

J, age 12

Meri: What is the worst thing about having diabetes?

J: Having to give myself insulin after meals, and having to ask you for carb amounts.

Me: Then count the carbs yourself…

J: I can’t.

Meri: Then learn. You already count really good…you just need practice.

J: Whatever mom…

Meri: What is the best thing about diabetes?

J: Easy, eating when I’m low.

Meri: How is it dealing with diabetes at school?

J: I forget to check myself and I get mad at myself.

Meri: If your friend got diabetes, what would you say to him?

J: It’s OK; it’s really not that big of a deal.

B, age 8

Meri: What is the worst thing about diabetes?

B: Having to test my sugar when I’m in the middle of a video game.

Meri: What is the best thing about diabetes?

B: Getting to eat at random times in the day. Having a cool pump, it’s like a video game and my friends think it is cool.

Meri: How is dealing with diabetes at school?

B: I really don’t like being the last out to lunch sometimes, and the table is full, so I have to sit on the bench with the sun in my eyes.

Meri: Honey, you should check yourself earlier than the lunch bell, you can check anytime in class.

B: I know, but I forget.

Meri: What would you tell a friend who just got diabetes?

B: Don’t.

Meri: Well if they get it, they have no choice…what would you say to them?

B: I would help them check their sugars…I really don’t know…I would tell them to get an alert dog because they are so cute and fun!

L, age 6

Meri: What do you think about diabetes?

L: It is great!

Meri: Is there anything bad about diabetes?

L: No! I have a pump and it keeps me safe. My insulin makes me run fast and super zoom.

Meri: What else is good about diabetes?

L: I like being healthy. I like putting the carb number in my pump. My pump has zebra stripes on it.

Meri: What is diabetes like at school?

L: I like it when you come to see me to check my sugars, even J.

Meri: If your friend got diabetes what would you say to him?

L: I love you.

M, age 14 (The non diabetic brother)

Meri: What do you think of diabetes?

M: I don’t like it of course…it’s a disease. It isn’t something you hate or anything…it’s like a thorn in your side. Just something that is always there.

Meri: Do you think you brothers get more attention than you, because of their diabetes?

M: Of course not!

Meri: What about when you were younger, did you sometimes feel J got more attention than you?

M: Maybe in the beginning, but not really, no.

Meri: How does diabetes affect YOU?

M: I don’t get to eat all the sugar I want…but that would probably be the case even if there wasn’t diabetes in the family.

Meri: Do you feel sorry for your brothers?

M: It’s scary how sickness can make things go crazy. I worry about them sometimes. Especially when I was younger and J was in the hospital sometimes. But generally, it’s not much of a worry. Now that they are on pumps it doesn’t seem to be a really big deal. I hate it when they have to get shots, or their pumps put in, but they are used to it now. L didn’t even flinch at his flu shot! I thought “WOW! He is awesome!”

Meri: Do you think you are strong enough to have diabetes?

M: No, I don’t think so.

Meri: What makes you think you brothers are stronger than you?

M: I don’t like the idea of feeling high or low, and feeling sick, OR getting shots all the time. If I had gotten it when I was young I would have been terrified. My brothers are awesome. I don’t know how they do it.

(A little perspective for me. I'm really glad I got the boys watches with alarms on them for school. It is definitely the little inconveniences that bother my boys the most.)