Sunday, September 29, 2013

No why. Just try.

I think part of accepting this lot in our life is accepting that there aren’t always answers to our questions.

I often see people write on group boards questions like: “My daughter ate this many carbs, then did this much exercise and then had a blood sugar of this, only an hour later to have a blood sugar of THIS, that would not move, despite constant blood, sweat and tears on our part.  Can you tell me why?”

The “WHYS?”

They can tear us apart. 

It took me years to figure out that isolated incidences are best left isolated.  Left alone.  Left in the past.

If something happens over and over again, it’s worth investigating for sure…but those out of the blue moments just can’t be cracked sometimes.  I know it’s not fair, and frustrating…but it is what it is.

That’s probably the hardest part of Our Diabetic Life.  Letting go.  Accepting there isn’t always an answer to things.

Just last night I had one of those “What the fructose” moments.  In four hours  I was forced to do four site changes on my youngest.  The first three were kinked at the very tip. 

I’ve done bazillions of these things.  What was I doing different last night?  Seriously, I was furious at myself.

It turns out when I moved to a different box of sets, I was met with success. 

I suspect that the box of sets was defective as the last set change I did three days ago began with a kinked cannula as well.  The other boys had not met with this problem as they have been on the same schedule and pulling from an entirely different box than I was.

Will I ever know for sure?  It could be that my little guy’s belly has some scaring issues.  It could be I didn’t cock the rocket correctly.  It COULD have been a million different things.  And in that moment of internal rage/brokenhartedness/devestation as inserted that FOURTH set…

Yes, I wish I had answers.  (And I know what you're thinking, and no we would not like to try another kind of set please and thank you.)

Instead of getting those answers, I ended up persevering until the problem was solved.

And I realized, a lot of times perseverance is our best answer.

Whatever we are faced with, we just need to keep trying.

Answering questions is stimulating, but dwelling on things that probably have no definitive answer can have consequences.  I mean, no answers means we’ve failed, right?  I know we feel like we are letting our children down when something crazy happens, and our instinct is to find the problem and fix it.  But a lot of times that problem can’t be definitively found.

A lot of times, all we can do is guess.

And do our best.

And try.

And then…move on.

Because if we try to answer all the questions the diabetes universe has to throw at us, (ie: Why did this disease have to happen to us?) we’ll end up in the crazy farm for sure.

No why.  Just try.

That’s my October motto.

Who’s with me?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sitting With Diabetes.

I was sitting on my porch rocking in my chair when I turned and saw diabetes beside me.

I thought it would be uglier than it was.

It had tired eyes like me.  You could see the history all over its face.  It was looking far out into the distance, as if trying to look past what was in front of it.  Its stare was steady and patient…you could see it’s been through a lot.

It looked more like me than I care to admit.

It took me a less than a minute to realize my hate was misplaced.

So many years of cursing diabetes.  So many years of wishing I didn’t know what it was.  And here I was looking it in the face and I realizing I never really knew it at all.

It was innocent like me.  It didn’t push its way into our lives.  It wasn’t a monster like cancer that inches its way in and grows like infectious weeds.  My sons’ immune systems made its very existence so.  Our relationship was the result of autoimmune misfiring, and as such, my anger has been wasted lo this many year.

Diabetes did not choose us.  Diabetes didn’t knock down the walls of our fragile na├»ve existence…it too is a pawn in this autoimmune game. 

I realized I’ve been battling not the enemy, but another victim in all of this.  Yes, all the drama and work that comes with diabetes is exhausting and heartbreaking to say the least.  But the truth is, my sons’ bodies fought against themselves…attacked themselves…and as a result, diabetes was thrown into our lives just as much as we were thrown into its.

I can see that it's not there to destroy us; it's only doing what must be done.  No insulin means no metabolizing sugars.  It couldn’t bring back those insulin producing cells once they've died. 

And it became clear that it was time I came to terms with the fact that neither could I.  If only tears and sheer willpower could do such things.  If only true love and sacrifice could provide such miracles.

But for whatever reason, it just isn’t so.  And as much as I wanted to hate diabetes in that moment, I knew I did not.

I hated that it had to happen…that it did happen.  But there is no going back in time.  Diabetes was my constant companion whether I wanted it there or not.  Fighting that figure sitting next to me seemed fruitless at best.

In fact I did something in that moment that for the life of me, I never thought I’d do.

I reached out my hand.  

And Diabetes took it, without hesitation.

And the peace was indescribable.  Because after all of these years, I understood that my anger really was about it all happening in the first place.  Now that its happened…now that diabetes has come, it makes sense to let it in…and sit with it for awhile.

Like the old friend it is.  

Because really, we're in this together.

It’s obvious that all these years of anger over something that I can’t control has been completely fruitless.  Instead of viewing all this as a battle…maybe it should be seen as…just life?  Just the way it is?  Our story?

I feel like for the past fifteen years I’ve been throwing punches at the wind, tiring myself, and building up anger and exhaustion that just doesn’t need to be.

This whole time, all I had to do was look up, and accept the old friend that was sitting next to me.  It’s here for the long haul, and I think it’s high time I offered it some lemonade.

Cheers diabetes.  I get it now.

I’m going to work with you, rather than against you. 

Maybe then, we’ll all get a little more sleep.

And if we’re lucky…a little more peace too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Today Kerri followed a prompt from another website asking us to counteract all the Internet ranting, (see Syria, Whole Foods, and Twerking,) with an anti-rant:  A list o’ thankfulness of sorts.

Since I’m having what can only be described as “GroundhogWeek,” I thought I’d step out of the blahs and add a little gratefulness to my day.  It never hurts to count your blessings…even if they are little ones that don’t even seem worth mentioning.  It’s those little ones that sustain me throughout the day, nudging me to keep on keepin’ on.  Little blessings are like ants.  One or two might not be noticeable, but if you rack up enough of them, they’re kinda’ a big deal.

So here goes.

*  I’m thankful for friends that do fun things with me instead of their husbands. 

*  I’m thankful for the way my 15 year old calls me, “Merm.”  I don’t know how it became endearing after I told him a million times that isn’t my name.  But…it has.

*  I’m also thankful said 15 year old has his permit so he can navigate the traffic coming home from school instead of me.

*  I’m thankful for an 18 year old who likes to go out to lunch and split meals with me.

*  I’m thankful for the backscratcher I was gifted from a friend.  It’s the most brilliant gift ever.

*  I’m thankful for prayer.

*  I’m thankful for the canvas of the sky.

*  I’m thankful for my in-laws.  They save me everyday.

*  I’m thankful for texting.  For the blood sugars that are texted to me, for the pics of sunsets and clouds that are texted from friends, and for having a conversation with my teenage boys without getting off the couch.

*  I’m thankful for new TV premiers.  My TV watching is very limited.  It’s fun to have something to look forward to.

*  I’m thankful for the parents at the boys’ school who give me that knowing smile, or that hug I’m always in need of.  (You know who you are.)

*  I’m thankful for vegetables.  They just seem to hit the spot most these days.  I’m thankful especially for the bumper tomato crop we had from our little garden this year.

*  I’m thankful when one of my boys mindlessly slips his hand in mine.  That moment he forgets it's supposed to be embarrassing is gold.

*  I’m thankful for music that makes me pat the steering wheel to the beat.

*  I’m thankful for the dog meeting me at the door and nudging my leg.  I’m also thankful for the way he sleeps crammed into small spaces.

*  I’m thankful for the way my 9 year old hugs me, the way he pats me on the back with both hands.

*  I’m thankful fall is coming.  I’m ready.

*  I’m thankful that whenever I’m down, my 11 year old offers to fry me an egg.

*  I’m thankful for friends that got together and made me a very meaningful quilt.  It sits at the end of my bed and feels like home.

*  I’m thankful that I can still find joy in the little things. 

*  And I’m thankful that I get to see first hand the good in people, every single day.

What are you thankful for?  It took me a minute to get going on my list, but once I started it seems I was drinking from a fire hose of blessings.  This is just what was on the tip of my brain minutes before having to go to work.  Think about what would have been here if I had time to really think about it…

Give it a go.  (And Kerri, thanks.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

AKA Dumbledore.

He was low all day.  It started with a 32 after track, and he just never fully recovered from there.  At lunch I was delighted to see a 205, but when I picked him up from school a 58 flashed on the screen. 

“You’ll check before you swim, right?  And after too?”  I questioned him.

“Yes, mom.  A million checks.  No problem!”

Although the timing was unfortunate, B had been invited to a camping/swimming/biking birthday party at the local KOA Campground that night.  It was just down the street, and the birthday boy’s parents have had B over multiple times overnight.  They knew the drill, I knew he was in good hands.  Besides, with cell phones, it's practically like I'm by his side anyway.

But how to ensure his safety?

I changed his target BG to 150 on his pump, and had him eat a free snack because 102 was just too good of a number to leave him with.

Like a pack mule I had his pockets full of fast acting sugar, a cell phone, and his blood sugar monitor clipped to his belt-loop.

“And don’t forget to take off your pump when you swim!”

“I know mom!  I got this.”

He’s almost 12 years old.  He was diagnosed more than 6 years ago.  I knew he had it, so I did what I always do.  I gave him the tools, and I let him fly.  (You know, as long as he checked in with me.  He could fly if he checked in...)

The night went swimmingly…pun intended.  His sugars were just where I wanted them to be.  Dinner came and he called to asked if he could have a root beer.  As a rule, the boys aren’t allowed full sugar sodas…but B has this thing about Root Beer.  It’s like the ultimate treat for him, so sure.  A little high is better than a little low.  That along with a BBQ hamburger, grapes and some chocolate cream pie and at midnight we were sitting at a nice and easy 179.

Brilliant.  I was over the moon.

The next morning he woke up 154.

“Mom.  You aren’t going to be happy.  Just remember that I’m so happy right now.  We are having donuts, orange juice and hot chocolate for breakfast.”

“You need to scale it down.  It’s too much for your blood to hold.”

“Ok.  No Hot Chocolate.”

“Really??  Can’t you give up the orange juice.”

“I REALLY want the orange juice.”

“Ok.  Two giant jelly donuts (that I'm very familiar with because he eats them every time he spends the night with this particular friend,) and one big glass of orange juice.  Enter 100 carbs please.”

He called me back 20 minutes later.  Now if you’ve been scanning this post and not really paying attention up until now, or if you are lost about what’s going on…that’s ok.  This is where the real story starts.

Again…TWENTY.  MINUTES.  AFTER.  I.  GAVE.  HIM.  100.  CARBS.  WORTH.  OF.  INSULIN…he called me to say…

“Uh, Mom.  I felt low so I checked again and I’m 55.”

I look at the clock and realize I’m picking him up in 40 minutes.  I also realize I haven’t showered.  I tell him to drink another big glass of orange juice and check again in 15 minutes.  I showered like lightening and dried my hair when the next call came.

“I’m 64.”

“Maybe another glass of orange juice.  Just don’t pass out, ok?”

“Haha mom.  I’m fine!”

I drive into the parking lot at 10:00am sharp.  I can see him jumping on the bubble pad in the field.  I had to smile, or I would cry.

I have his hand in mine with blood squirting out of it before he even realized I was there.

55.  Again.

As I unhook his pump and put it in my purse, I sigh and deliberately look him in the eye.  “You know what that means, right?”

His head hangs low.  He knows, and he shakes his head in defeat.

“Dex4,” he whispers.

Now I’m going to throw a disclaimer in here.  Yes, B HATES the taste of Dex4, but I know many children and adults who actually like the taste.  L doesn’t complain at all when I ask him to use it.  We use these particular guys for the bad lows.  Lows under 50.  They work so damn fast they are little dynamite miracles in a bottle.  I’m so thankful for them…they have saved us many times.

But to B…to put it kindly, they are a necessary evil.

I opened the container for him, because they are wrapped up like Fort Knox, and he gingerly took a small sip.

“Sweety, you need to choke that down as fast as you can.  I’m sorry, just close your eyes and get it done.”

He took a long steady sip and gagged a little.

“You can do this.  Keep going!”  I cheered him on.

This is where, hand to heaven, a light bulb appeared over his head.  He looks at me and in all seriousness says, “You know what is happening?  I’m Dumbledore.  I’m Dumbledore drinking the potion of despair in the horcrux cave.”

It took me a minute to remember the scene and I marveled at the brilliance of the metaphor.

Watch this clip.  It’s pretty much how it all went down in the car.  Imagine B as Dumbledore…and me, as Harry Potter.  (Hands in the air!  Playing somebody young for the win!)

He drank it, kept his pump off for an hour and by the time lunch rolled around he was 250.  It’s been over 24 hours and he hasn’t had another low since.

We've established new protocols for track, and have noted the fact that B always has lows when hanging with his best friend.

Information is power.  Even if there's a little despair sprinkled in to make all that information stick.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's ok that I'm not ok.

The underlying worry that surrounds me is palpable.  People who love me are concerned about me, and understandably, want me to be happy.

If I’m being totally honest, for a lot of people, (especially my family,) it makes them uncomfortable.  They want the problem fixed.  They want me to be free of the grief and pain.

It’s one thing to be on Facebook, or read my blog, and support me and the process that I’m going through…it’s entirely another thing to be in the same room as me and watch the tears gather in the corner of my eyes and feel helpless to stop it all.  I liken it all to a spouse having a cold…we want it to be over the day it begins.  “I know you are miserable, but do you feel better yet?  A little better today?  But you slept good right?  You’ll feel much better tomorrow.  Please say you’ll feel better tomorrow!!”

I understand.

But it’s important to note, that right now there isn’t a solution available to my problem.  Medicine might mask the pain…but it doesn’t negate the fact that my husband is gone.  I would consider taking said meds if my grief got in the way of my responsibilities.  If I wasn’t able to do the things necessary to get through my day.  If I wasn’t able to feel joy at all.  If my process was negatively affecting the boys.

But anyone that spends real time with me knows that isn’t needed.  I’m still silly.  My personality is still in tact.  I just freaking miss my husband.

So I reach out to all of you today and say, it’s ok that I’m not ok.  I am completely cognizant of the fact that what I’m feeling is completely normal.  I know that how I feel today, won’t be how I’ll feel forever.  I mean I look back at how I was between October and December of last year and it’s an outer body experience.  I wasn’t that person before, and I’m not that person now.  But I needed to go through the process of to make it where I am today.

I’m proud of who I am today.  I’ve come a long ass way, and I know what a milestone that is.  I also know I have a long ass way to go yet. 

Let me.

Let me take that road the way that is right for me.  Let me be angry.  Let me be sad.  Let me be crazy.  Let me be silly.  Let me try to forget the pain some days and other days let me embrace it.  Let me walk this incredibly uncomfortable walk.  I don’t have the luxury of hiding myself away until it’s all over.  I know that would be easier for you.  I know you have all moved on.  I know your family problems have taken precedent over my grief, and I know you wonder what the timeline looks like for this all to be better for me.  I hate to break it to all of you, but it may never be all better.

And believe it or not, I’m ok with that.

I had a friend call me today and say, “How are you?”  And I said, “I’m ok.”  And she said, “Liar.”  And I love her for it.  She laughed and said, “I know you’re not ok…but I’m thankful you try to be.”

I’m trying.  Let me try.

Nothing you can do can fix it.  Sure, your friendship is a balm of sorts.  Sure, your love is healing.  The best thing you can do for me is put your arm around my shoulder and let me feel it…even if it makes you feel awkward.

Let me.

Don’t pity me.  Don’t rush me.  Don’t be frustrated with me. 

Let it be.

I mentioned in a previous post that I read an article that stated the second year is always harder than the first.  I was relieved to find out through hospice, that this statement is mostly true for the widow, not for the children.  I’m so thankful for that.  They have made so much progress, and as such, I try to feel my way through this as honestly as I can with them.  They see me cry.  They see me struggle.  They know I miss him, and they know it is always safe to say how much they miss him too.  I think we’ve been handling it all in a very healthy way.

Ryan had a saying, “Every day a bit better.”  It was on a plaque around his car license plate.

Every day a bit better. < < That is me.  Sure some days I take a few steps back, but I’ve found out that is because I’m a human being.  A normal, human, grieving widow, who in all honesty lost the love of her life way way WAY too early.

It’s ok that I’m not ok. 

I will be. 

And knowing that makes all the difference.