Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Episode 1.

As most of you know, J was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the tender age of 8 months.  When he was diagnosed the doctor told me it was her goal to keep him out of DKA, and keep him alive.

We achieved that goal...but more than that, we achieved 14 years without a low "incident."  By incident I mean J has never passed out.  He has never had a seizure.  He has never gotten loopy, or lost time.  The worse symptom he ever had was some sweating.   I can count on one hand how many lows he has had under 50.  We've been blessed for sure.

So yesterday was shockaprising to say the least.

I got a call on my cell phone.  This is what I heard on the other end...verbatim. 

"Hello, Mrs. Schuhmacher?  This is blah blah blah blah from the High School.  I think we met in a 504 meeting last week?"

Me:  "No.  That wasn't me.  I haven't been called for a 504 meeting yet.  I'm sorry, who is this again?"

"Oh sorry, must have been another student.  Anyway...I wanted to let you know that your son just had a diabetic 'episode' in PE."

"Are you sure you have the right parent?  Are we talking about J?"

"Yes, J."
Images of ambulances, seizures, red flurries of panic flash through my head...

"Is he  Ok?  Please, is he ok?"

"Yes.  He is fine now.  But the PE teacher had to leave the entire class to retrieve sugar for him. That isn't ideal."

Me, angry that his most pressing concern seemed to be the teacher leaving the class:  "Leaving the class to save my son's life seems ideal to me.  He usually has sugar in his spibelt, but we washed it last night and we must have forgotten to replenish the sugar inside.  Can I speak to him, please?"

Turns out J had just ran a mile loop outside the high school.  When he returned to the field they were just about to play some ultimate Frisbee when he began seeing spots.  Within seconds he couldn't see and his knees were buckling under him.  Fortunately his PE teacher was nearby and immediately knew what was happening.  Barely conscious, J was able to slur out, "I need sugar.  NOW."

The PE teacher actually had two TA's there to assist.  One stayed with J, and the other stayed with the class.  The teacher first ran and got J some apple juice and glucose tabs.  After J ate that the teacher ran back to the locker room and retrieved J's backpack with his meter inside.

After he was full of sugar for a good 15 minutes the number that popped up was 70.

The principal was called and came to pick J up on a golf cart to bring him to his office.  J explained to him that nothing like this has EVER happened before.  And then he called me.

I am so very thankful J's teacher knew what to do, but I am myself.  I completely take all of the blame.  Wait...stop shaking your head at your computer!  It really is my fault.  I got comfortable.  J always feels his lows way before any symptoms pop up.  He has never had an "episode."  I thought keeping his meter in the locker room was OK. 

It is not OK.
My 14 year old son who hasn't taken a nap in 12 years came home and slept soundly with his feet on my lap for two hours.  His body took all evening to recover.  Looking at his precious face while he slept, I recommitted to fiercely taking care of him.  He is almost 15 now.  I've let him fly...and that is how it should be.  But he still needs me...and that is something I don't take lightly.  He and his brothers are my air.  Now more than ever...I need them to be safe, and happy.
So a plan has been hatched.  J is going to keep a small, soft red cooler with him during PE, complete with meter and low supplies.  He can't run with it, so it might be that he won't be allowed to run off campus anymore.  Unless he keeps his spibelt full of the things he needs.  Even though PE is right after lunch...he needs to check his sugar before class starts.  These are all things that he should have been doing from the get go.  He did them in Jr. High...I don't know why I thought he wouldn't need to do it in high school.

Please, learn from my mistakes.  Don't get complacent with diabetes.  Just because something hasn't happened, doesn't mean it won't ever happen.  Being prepared is our only ammunition against this unpredictable disease.  If we are prepared, then we can lower the worry meter a few notches.

These past couple weeks the boys sugars have skyrocketed.  Grief and diabetes don't mix well.  We've adjusted ratios a bit and the numbers have been much better the past couple days.  But, as it always is with Diabetes...we just never know when the tide will turn. 

If anything, I have to give the Boy Scouts of America some props.  When they utter their motto they take it seriously...and now I have a wicked reminder that I must too: 

"Be prepared."  


  1. Thank you for the reminder, Meri. I'm so glad he is OK.

  2. Holy Cow Meri. First glad for that Gym Teacher. I am not overly impressed by the Principal's tone on the phone though...(I know, let it go).

    AND.....DUNH, DUNH...DUNH.........

    DO.NOT.BLAME.YOURSELF! There are soooo many damn loopholes with diabetes. Predicting everything, everywhere, all the time is not possible. xo

  3. Oh, no! Meri! I can't believe that "not ideal" person! Did you write this today, and this really happened Yesterday yesterday, with all that is going on in your world?

    It's too soon for anyone in your world to be such an ass hat!

    So glad J's OK.

    Spibelts are nice, but I'm glad to know I shouldn't count on ours to work miracles.

    I always learn so much from you. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. So glad to hear he's okay, Meri. You're so right in the point that just because it's never happened, doesn't mean it never will. Up until a few years ago, I had never had a low that brought me to my knees -- but one night I had to crawl across a room to get glucose. Glad to hear the gym teacher pulled thru and helped J...and so glad to hear he came home to take a nap with the support of his amazing mom.


  5. Blame diabetes!

    You are one of the best moms I have ever met. I understand what you are saying as far as feeling the blame but please BLAME DIABETES FIRST!!

    But honestly, I understand. And I have to tell you, I said "WHAT?!?!?" out loud when I read what that person on the phone said. Ugh!


  6. I think I'd like to give the caller a less than ideal "episode"!! So thankful for a teacher who understood what needed to be done. And even more thankful that J is ok. My favorite line..."Being prepared is our only ammunition against this unpredictable disease."

  7. I was 15 years old and running cross country when I was diagnosed back in 1974. We had no meters then, just test tubes and tablets to check urine a couple of times a day.
    I don't want to try to tell you this was not a big deal. I know what it's like, not to be in your place, but to be the one having seizures.
    Don't let this incident scare you away from letting your son have a full life. The cooler may be an over-reaction. Maybe not. I'm just saying consider it.
    The main thing is the spibelt that was part of your son's usual preparation was not there. This incident should reinforce the importance of that. There are lots of meters small enough to fit in a spibelt.
    I run with a meter and glucose tabs all the time.
    Best wishes to you and your son.

  8. How did you know I was shaking my head? Thanks for the reminder to always be prepared, and don't blame yourself. <3

  9. Yikes...glad he is fine. PE always scares me too. Syd keeps a small laffy taffy or a few starbursts in her pocket. Scary scary. You are a t1 mamma hero...we aren't perfect but you are close. :)

  10. Thanks for TELLING US again Meri! I often leave my house without sugar (for me) every morning during my walk because "I always feel my lows quickly and I dont often have them in a "random" places"....for me its LAZINESS I guess! YIKES! So glad he was ok quickly and help was there!

  11. I JUST told someone a story yesterday. Back 15 years ago when Lauren was dx in kindergarten, she and I were out taking a walk on our street just days after her dx. A neighbor with a child in K as well drove and rolled her window down. She was not my favorite but I mustered a smile and got ready for her to say "Oh! So glad Lauren is home!" But instead she said: "SO is she really DIABETIC?? Is she going to be having EPISODES in school? Because I don't want Christian witnessing an EPISODE. He's only in kindergarten, you know!" Ick. Just Ick to the word "episode."

    In any case, I'm glad he is okay. I cannot imagine what the past months and days have done to your kids' bgs. If you need a cooler there to feel he is safe, by all means have it. I am one for having glucose tabs in EVERY car in our driveway just in case Lauren ever forgets them when she drives. If they are there, she will not need them: you know?

    Hang in there and do NOT beat yourself up. Lows -- and highs -- are just part of life in D World. The only way to completely avoid them? A cure.

  12. Meri, you're a fantastic mom and you definitely shouldn't be blaming yourself for this. Diabetes doesn't ever play fair and when you had stress, grief, hormones, etc., into the mix, it's just unpredictable. You're doing a fabulous job and your boys know just who to turn to when they need a solid foundation to cling to. Love to you and your boys.

  13. Meri, K's teacher was nice enough to carry a fanny pack for her during hikes and things... even the PE teacher was willing to carry something with him and run close enough to her had she decided to join cross country (in 2nd grade). Am very thankful the teacher knew what was happening. But, just in case, do you think he's willing to do that for him? I guess the easiest thing to carry would either be glucose tabs, glucose gel, and those packs of (I don't remember what they're called).. but runners carry them around. If he can have a low profile pack - bigger than the spibelt but not quite big as a fanny pack -- he can just run around and stuff it with "thin" sugars. Just a thought. Love you. Love the boys. ~Ivy

  14. I'm glad he's okay. It's no one's fault. Stuff happens.
    The principal needs a reality lesson...
    You are still the wonderful mom that we love and respect. So there!

  15. UGH! First, can I PLEASE be the one to go pop who ever called you in the face? Totally need me some 'popping in the face' action right now! ;) Second, so glad J is OK and was able to get out the most important words, "I need sugar." Third, thanks for the reminder...we all get comfortable sometimes and things get easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life. Fourth, it's STUPID DIABETES's fault, not yours...but I totally get the mom guilt. There are times I want to kick myself for things that go wrong with Bean because she's always been responsible about D stuff...but she's 8 and it's ultimately MY job to keep her safe! Fifth, nothing, really...just wanted to have a 'fifth' I guess! ;)

  16. Oh Meri! I should know to always have tissues nearby when reading your blogs because they touch my life so profoundly, I always wave my hands at my eyes because I don't want my mascara to run.
    Stupid Diabetes! I hate how it can sneak up on you and change everything even though you have prepared and I think you are the Best Mom Ever!! I definitely think you should write a book because I know you would get published and everyone would buy it!! I love your stories and I love the way you take care of your precious boys. I hate when people don't understand, my sister in law told me that the reason my daughter (Haley) got diabetes was because I let her eat hot dogs when she was little - I don't think so! We love you and I pray that will be J's last dangerous low.
    Sending you my love and best wishes to you & the boys ~ Amy

  17. So very very thankful J is alright!! Diabetes is relentless...even in grief. Thank you, Meri, for taking them time to share this and remind us to be vigilant - always.

  18. I'm crying :( that is just too scary and then I started crying more when you actually had the gull (is that the right word? the right spelling? I don't care I'm leaving it...I think you get my point) to blame yourself!! MERI MERI is NEVER your fault. If this happened to Cara would it be my fault?? NOOOOO we do the best we can every day and that is all we can do!! love ya :)

  19. You all are so wonderful! Look at you defending me! I want to clarify, that I know the "episode" itself wasn't my fault. Diabetes never plays fair, or on our terms. What is my fault is not having protocols in place. He should always have sugar and a monitor with him. He should always check before PE. On days when there are long runs, a temp basal is in order. This was a big wake up call...I can't think, "It will never happen to us." Thank you for your sweet stories, your kind advice, and (as always,) your unwaivering friendship! Best. Blog. Readers. Ever.

  20. Meri, first, I'm so glad J is ok, second, please let me be right in line to pop that s.o.b. in the face (right after Moria) and third....especially this one.....would you "blame" anyone else like you just blamed yourself??? No, of course not, you would remind them that we all just do the best we can and Diabetes will usually sucker-punch us when we least expect it. So please, be that kind to yourself and know that you are such an awesome mom!!!

    You are the strongest person I know, even when you don't see it for yourself. ((((Hugs)))))

  21. Oh hush, you. I don't want to hear anything about forgetting anything. You are an amazing mother dealing with the crappiest disease at the WORST time in your life. It was an accident. A mistake. Some people leave their lunch at home, their cell phone, homework. Whatever. Forgetting stuff happens because life happens. It's not your fault. Especially NOT right now.

  22. That picture. Those freckles. He looks just like my nephew. I with I could just scoop him up in a hug and take all his heartache, fear and that scary low away. And you too.

    Such an important reminder I needed. So grateful he is OK.

  23. You are an awesome mom so diabetes gets all the blame. But I'm sure as heck sending dirty looks at the idiot that called you. Not ideal?! Really?! I would have LOST MY FREAKING MIND on the phone. I probably would have gotten my kid banned from every school in the county. Not you. Always graceful under pressure. :)

  24. Don't blame yourself, you guys are dealing with so so much right now! I swear, It's diabetes's fault. (always.) Last Wednesday in P.E. (Yes, I am J's age, and freshman in HS) When I had been running about 200... I didn't bother testing, and I was 49 during stretching. My teacher sent the T.A. to unlock the locker room, and I was shaking and almost crying and eating tons of smarties. later the teacher asked if I could "please find a different way to manage things so I don't have to have someone leave the locker room, because if the T.A. isn't there, she can't leave!" Basically it happens to all of us... even if they're diffrent. You guys are amazing :)

  25. I love your response about what was "ideal." You handled that with so much composure!

    One of my readers wanted to make sure I read your post today because my post was on a very similar theme. I talked about teachers giving compliments that my daughter seems to always know her lows. And my response was, "But not always." I fear that they will become complacent just because nothing drastic has happened yet.

    I'm glad to hear he's okay, that the PE teacher knew what to do, and that you put a plan in action.

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  27. I could write a book here. A BOOK! But first . . . I'm so thankful J is okay. I read the post out loud to Jason and I have to tell you, I couldn't help but blurt out a few foul words when I read the word "ideal." I'll tell that principal what is _____ ideal! And then I read where he said as he was dropping, " I need sugar now." I started weeping and said outloud, "Sweet boy." Jason asked how old J is. When I said 14, he have me a look like "why are you calling him a boy?" And I answered outloud, "Because he's Meri's boy" and I was thinking, that could just as easily have been my Ryan. I understand what you're saying about preparedness. I get it. I lived it in my own situation with Ryan today, no scary lows, just d in of itself. The complacency that all too often sets in when we are desperately trying to be normal. But Meri! You are the best. And I have to tell you, I had composed myself reading further . . . until I got to the part where you blamed yourself/took responsibility. And I had to stop again, with my head shaking and tears falling, and compose to finish reading to Jason. And you told me to stop. LOL. I <3 you. And I'm still here. Still praying. You are amazing. And so are your boys.

  28. I read this earlier and wasn't able to comment. I have been thinking about this post for hours now. We have been trying to drill into the administration at our school that, as you said, just because something hasn't happened, doesn't mean it wont. They don't want to hear that. But it's so true. Sigh...

    Please don't beat yourself up. You've had so much on your plate. You are an incredible mother. You take excellent care of your boys. And, you are a hero not just to your boys, but to a whole bunch of us out here, too. ♥

  29. I was staring at my guy catching frogs and talking to him while he was 23. He finally said "mom I can't focus" to make me check him. It was a huge wake up call . I too blame myself. I am so glad Ryan was able to protect J and glad he is Ok. I will tell God in my prayers tonight to kindly leave you alone. ;0). You have been tested too much. Only blessings now.

  30. Glad to hear J is OK now, scary, and yes a timely reminder that we must always expect the unexpected!
    Love and hugs Amanda

  31. Oh Meri. My heart is there with you. I am so happy to hear Jack is ok! I can't imagine such an ignorant people working at school. I am thinking of you every day. Love

  32. Meri, J might not have had his spibelt...but you were prepared! You PREPARED his teachers, you have prepared have prepared his world. So glad he is better, but give yourself credit. The outcome was such because you have educated, and your son is also very aware. We had an 'episode' moments after a few different 'normal'readings and we couldn't get our daughter to respond with glucose drinks, 1/2 soda and gel on her gums. As I was drawing up her glucagon, she starting coming around (we can never predict these things, even when we are on top of our game). Not fun, not easy...but D can be ever so sneaky. hugs to you. And what a great reminder that sometimes we get too comfortable even with the most complex things.

  33. I am glad you had the first conversation on the phone and not in person. Or at least, if I were you, I'd be glad because I wouldn't have to put on my angry eyes (Toy Story reference).

    Sure having a low like that was "not ideal" but it sounds like they handled it in the best way possible. I think J gets major bonus points for even making it to school these days.

  34. Please don't blame yourself. As much as you prepare your child, there will probably come a day when they walk out of the house forgetting their meter, or having run out of their source of sugar. They are still teens, after all. So much easier for girls, who carry a purse everywhere; even so, our DD has walked out with her meter in another purse... or run out of strips while out, etc. Your reminder of that Boy Scout motto is good; I always try to remind. Two juices on the bedside table always (they may not be able to get to the kitchen refrigerator on time); sugar stashes everywhere. Check BGs before and after Gym always. But harder for them to remember when they are walking around on their own all day with friends. It happens... it can happen. Try to drill in to check BGs every two hours when exercising (including walking, light housework, etc.). After years of preparation, this will sink in. Yet we are human and it is human to sometimes forget. I'm glad J was okay; would have a few choice words for the teacher who called telling her what happened was not ideal. In fact, I would complain to them and their superiors, reminding them that J is legally in THEIR care during the school day and that you will hold them legally responsible for his safety. Maybe then they would consider J's Gym teacher leaving class to save his life IDEAL. They need to get it. Sorry you had to suffer this insult after getting such a scare.


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