My Warrior’s Diaversary

One year.  A year full of ups, downs, and inbetweens.  A year I  never would  have dreamed up.

Still, I wouldn’t trade it.  My little warrior has been diagnosed for a whole year.  She is amazing.  And we are so blessed.

Had she been diagnosed in 1921, she would be dead by now.  One year.  That was all diabetics could expect.  Many got far less than that.

Then, the miracle of insulin in 1922–and countless advances since–have made it so my sweetie can live a long, healthy, wonderful life.

Though I wouldn’t have chosen this for our family, we have grown in so many ways.

Every child has had to learn to give, to share a bit more, to be OK with less of Mom’s time and less of the family resources.  They have been compassionate and understanding nearly all the time.

My husband and I have had to learn all things diabetes, from carb counting, to insulin, to highs and lows.  Syringes and test strips are a part of our life.  I can look at a plate of food and tell you the carb count without even thinking too much about it.  And I was led to the perfect job that allows me to earn some extra income to pay for the astronomical costs of diabetes care and still be able to take care of my angel.

And, my little warrior.  She has learned that her strength is limitless.  She has learned that she can do anything.  She has learned that she has the heart of a warrior, even though she has the pancreas of a diabetic.  She faces this disease unflinchingly every day.  She brings home class treats without even a nibble.  She gives her own shots, tests her own finger, and believes deep down that she won’t have to live with this disease for ever. That some day in her lifetime, they will have a cure.

We’ll be opening a new chapter in her journey with diabetes next week, as she gets her first pump.

Happy Diaversary, beautiful warrior princess.  You are an amazing example to us all.  fullsizerender


A Waking Nightmare (It Wasn’t So Bad)

Just a few days after I brought now eight-year-old home from the hospital with her type 1 diabetes diagnosis, I had a very vivid dream.

In this dream, I was at a hometown buffet. I was looking around the room at all the different food options. I started to sob, “How can I possibly count the carbs on this? I can’t do it!” Then, in my dream, I collapsed in a sobbing heap to the tile floor while diners around me blithely picked up their plates, filled them, and simply walked around the distraught woman on the floor.

Fast forward six months. A good friend was in town from Florida. For some reason she wanted to go to hometown buffet. I think she associates it with the state we live and her time here.

Let me just say, I have never really liked hometown buffet. In my opinion, they overcharge for mediocre food. I would rather have a reasonable portion of excellent food than all I want of so-so food for the same price. My kids and other extended family members disagree. Regardless, we were headed to the buffet.

Before we left, I looked at hubby and said, “I don’t know if I can do this. Counting carbs for eight-year-old when she has unlimited food choices will be really hard. It will be just like my nightmare.”

Hubby said, “Well, just do the best you can. Eight-year-old will be fine.”

So off to the buffet we went. I had eight-year-old fill up her plates (yes, plates plural) with exactly what she wanted to eat. Then, and here is the amazing part, I looked at it, estimated the portion size, calculated the carbs in my head and accounted for the glycemic index of the food. All in about 2 minutes or less. Then, I gave her the insulin shot and she ate a mostly normal meal. Well, except for the fact that it was more carbs than I have ever dosed her for before. And, she had to get all her food at once, instead of deciding whether to go back. And she had to test her blood sugar before so I could take that into account, too. Meal times are really not so “normal” any more.

It is amazing what you can learn in six months when you have to. I never in my wildest dreams, or worst nightmares, thought I could actually look at a plate of food, tell you the carbs, take the glycemic index of the food into account, and then just know how much insulin was necessary. But I did pretty well. She was in the perfect range where her blood sugar should have been that night at bedtime.

Score: full-time pancreas:1, buffet nightmare:0.

So, take that, buffets. You can’t scare me anymore! I lived one of my nightmares, and I survived. Let’s just hope I never have to actually live the naked while speaking in church nightmare. I think that one may just kill me.

The First Week Home

Several people have been asking me how seven-year-old and I are doing since we’ve been home from the hospital for a week post type 1 diabetes diagnosis. We are both doing well. Seven-year-old is really taking everything in stride. Though she doesn’t want the shots, she still doesn’t complain about them. She is happy, healthy and ready for what this new life will bring her. She did say, “Mom, my life has changed a lot, hasn’t it? Life for our whole family has changed, hasn’t it?” I simply had to say, “Yes, it has, but nothing has changed about how much you are loved by everyone, and that never will.” She gave me a hug and went on her way.
Now to the more complicated question of how I am doing. I really am doing better, but let me see if I can explain how I’m feeling. I feel like those women who go in to the hospital with abdominal pain and get told, “You’re pregnant and about to give birth. Surprise!” Only, the “baby” I was handed is a sick, demanding one–a parasite, not a child, who will harm the child I love with my entire being if I don’t do everything it requires.
So, if I seem a little off my game, please try to understand; I am like the shell-shocked mom of a newborn, a mom who had no idea she was even pregnant. You wouldn’t ask too much of her, would you? You wouldn’t expect that everything she used to do without even thinking about it would simply continue to be done without things being dropped and forgotten. I am talking to myself, actually, not all of you. I know most people aren’t expecting much of me right now. But I continue to expect everything of myself. And maybe I shouldn’t.
So very many people have helped us out with meals, babysitting, gifts, and support in all sorts of ways, from putting away Christmas décor to writing out recipes when food was brought in so I would know exactly what was in it. Thank you for being my angels on earth, the ones God has sent to me in my time of need. I promise to do the same for  you someday.
Mostly, I’m just so proud of my sweetie. She thanks me when I give her a shot, even if it hurts her. Could there be a better child?
Seven-year-old was having a more difficult time with one of her insulin shots the other day. She hates injections in her thighs. It was time for the thigh shot, and she was getting super upset. I told her, “You are a warrior.” Then, I pointed to her sharps container and said, “Look at that jar. It’s your warrior jar. Each of the things in there represent a poke you’ve had. It shows just how strong you are.” So she asked me to take some tape and label it as her “Warrior Jar.” Here it is:

This is the face of a newly christened type 1 diabetes warrior. And I am the proud captain cheering on my soldier, fighting her way through this new battle, with her every step of the way. I love you, my little warrior. We’ll fight this war hand in hand, with arms folded and heads bowed, together forever more.

How Bedwetting Saved My Child’s Life

Seven-year-old suddenly started wetting the bed a few weeks ago after not having done so for many years. The first night, I thought it was odd, the second, I was annoyed. The third, I figured she must have a urinary tract infection so I hauled her in the doctor’s office. She very cautiously peed into the obligatory cup and the urine sample results came back. No sign of infection, glucose was present, but no ketones. The doctor asked, “Is there any history of diabetes in your family?” “No,” I replied, as my heart sank. “Any history of kidney or liver problems?” “No,” I said again. “Well, we’ll send her for some labs.”
Since we went in the day after Christmas, labs couldn’t come until the following Monday. They showed everything was good. At least it was if they didn’t know my child was fasting, which I had told the technician and the doctor’s office but somehow that wasn’t communicated. When the results finally came on Wednesday, they told us to make a follow-up appointment for after the New Year.
On Monday, I checked seven-year-old out of school for her appointment. She nervously peed into a cup again. The results were the same. High glucose, no ketones. This time a doctor whom I don’t normally see greeted us and said,”I just want to call endocrinology. And, I think I’ll do a rapid blood glucose here.” So she did. And the result were 411. For those of you who aren’t blood glucose savvy, a normal range is 80-150. “I’m so sorry”, the doctor said, who happens to have my same first name so I felt an instant connection, “but it looks like your daughter has type 1 diabetes. I am going to call the children’s hospital and see what they want me to do.” After another half hour of waiting for someone to get back to her from the hospital, they told us to come, now, for a direct admit.
That was two days ago. I walked into the doctor’s office with a perfectly healthy child who just wanted to get back to school for PE. I walked out of the doctor’s office with a the same, sweet wonderful child who, I was told, has a chronic disease— one that will affect her, and our whole family, for the rest of her life.
I was shocked, but I wasn’t devastated. How can I be when I feel so blessed? We caught her juvenile or insulin dependent or type 1–whatever you want to call it–diabetes before she had any major issues or life-threatening episodes. How many parents can say that? She was still fine until New Year’s, so we got to enjoy our holiday and start the treatment with the beginning of a new deductible instead of having half of it in December.
I have felt so many angels supporting me these past forty-eight hours. I know people have been praying for me. I could feel heaven close around my “bed” as I tried and failed to get some sleep in the hospital. And I could feel the army of angels around my little girl. They stood as sentinels, watching her bedside, making sure she was safe and sound.

Seven-year-old is being such a trooper. She got out of the hospital last night and wanted to go back to school today. So, I got my first try at being her pancreas at school. I forgot the pen needle cap for her insulin pen, had to go home and come back. Score 1, Diabetes, 0, Mom. But still, I am going to get this. I have so many people offering help, meals, advice, love. Everything is falling into place for my sweet little angel.
So, if your child ever starts wetting the bed after not having done it for a long time, don’t ignore it. Take them in, immediately.

And ask your doctor to check for type 1 diabetes. Maybe bedwetting could save your child’s life

How I (almost) Ran (part of) My First 10K

Happy Thanksgiving! Because the weather was gorgeous, I wanted to use my new sports watch, and I wanted to feel a little less guilty about all the calories I would ingest, I decided to go for a run yesterday.

I went down the trail I normally use. I was a little less than a mile into my run when I came to a road I need to cross. My run had been completely quiet up until that point; I hadn’t met anyone. But, then I saw someone with an orange flag, motioning people. Lots of people. She was motioning hundreds of runners onto the trail I had hoped to use.

I thought about turning around for a minute. Then, I decided I didn’t really know another route I wanted to run right then, so, I joined in the fray.

About three seconds after I joined in, I was sort of sorry I had. I was getting passed by all sorts of people. I am not the fastest of runners to begin with, and since I had recently been sick with a cough and sore throat, my energy was less than usual. Before I knew it, men with graying hair passed me. A few telling me to keep running. Then, most humiliating of all, a blonde haired boy whom I think is my ten-year-old’s friend (I’m not sure since I only saw the back of his head), passed me up. My short stubby legs kept going, and though my ego was somewhat bruised, I still loved the experience of running with all those people.

They accepted me as one of their own, even though I was in sweat pants that had shrunk and carried pepper spray in one hand. I got quite a few strange looks when people saw the pepper spray. Who runs a race with hundreds of other people and expects to be attacked? To those who gave me the strangest looks I imagined telling them, “Oh, I’m not worried about being attacked. I just really want to win this race! Ha!” as I sprayed them in the eyes. But, I am not that diabolical. And a weird look doesn’t deserve temporary blinding as punishment, most of the time.
Pretty soon, I came to the end of the trail. Normally, I turn around and go back the way I came. That didn’t seem to be a possibility. I briefly considered still doing that and had an image of myself pushing through all those runners, arms flailing, to go back the way I had come. But although I wanted to yell and divide the runners like Moses parting the Red Sea, I decided to just keep going with them.

I ran up a road and down to the road in front of my kids’ school. I had planned to just keep going down that road, but a lady with a flag told yelled at me as she saw me turning, “You have to cross here!”

“Okay,” I thought, “I guess I have to cross here.” And, being the mostly obedient soul that I am, I crossed with all the runners. By that time my energy was starting to flag a bit, but I was still running. I saw a sign that said mile 3 and smiled. I had only run about 2.5 miles, but I wanted to believe I was already done with 3. Then, the sag support was on the side of the road.

“Water, Gatorade?” they yelled with the drink proffered in an outstretched arm.

“Don’t mind if I do,” I thought as I took the offered water, gulped it and threw it into the gutter with the rest of the hapless paper cups lying there.

Soon, I had a decision to make; the rest of the runners were turning, and since I knew where they were going, I knew it would be too far from home to run back, too. images (2)

The next flag holder yelled at me, “Hey, you’re going the wrong way! You have to turn here!”

Now, I know the perfect ending to this story would be that I kept going and simply ended with all the others at the rec center. And for a brief second, I nearly did that. But my throat was starting to hurt, my energy was gone, and, did I mention I was really kind of still sick? So, I ignored flag boy and kept going on my way to home, a smile on my face, thinking that, for half of my run, I got a chance to feel like I was running a 10K. For free.

My Kids Are My Personal Trainers

I enjoy exercise. I’ve never been a gym person–mainly because I’m too cheap– but I do have personal trainers, four of them actually. They range from three to twelve years old and are tougher on me than any trainer ever would be; they are also better cheerleaders.

About two years ago when I started trying to get back into running instead of just walking, my then one-year-old was along for the ride. I strapped her into the stroller and off we went down a trail. I remember walking, then starting to jog, then, after a pathetically short time, slowing back down again. My barely verbal one-year-old would yell at me every time I slowed down, “Go, Go, Go!” Naturally, I had to go faster and try harder. (I also realized I will have to watch her when she’s old enough to drive. I think I have a serious speed demon on my hands.) At three, she’s still my companion and still gets on my case if I start to walk for some reason: “Mom, go faster!” But she’s the cutest little cheerleader, too. She saw another person running on the trail, a much faster, more fit person I might add, and said, “Mommy, she is a great runner just like you and just like me!” Thanks sweetie.

During the summer, my older kids attend my workouts, too. We go to a park and they play while I exercise. This summer my twelve-year-old son joined me in my workouts so he could get ready for gym. He would run with me then we’d stop and do some strength moves. After, I would keep running for a while longer. He was my timer. He would set his watch to time exactly how much longer I had. Then, as I was jogging around the trail, he’d call out to me every time I came around the track how much time I still needed to go. He and the girls would sometimes cheer for me, and if any of them saw my energy flagging, they would tell me to keep going, keep running. Twelve-year-old would even count down the final ten seconds for me, loudly proclaiming to anyone unfortunate enough to be at the park with us that I was done running.

My ten and six-year old daughters love to watch me do exercise DVD’s and tell me how much (or how little), my attempts to do the moves look like what’s on the screen. They’ll often join me, and every move takes on more meaning when my cuties are doing it with me.

But the best way my kids are my personal trainers, is just having them as my kids. I see their smiles, I hear their laughter, and I want to be strong enough to fully experience their childhood. To run with them, dance with them, push them on the swing and tug their wagon around the block one more time. And, I want to be around long enough to see their children, and their children’s children, and do the same with them. Every step I take, I take because of my personal trainers, my precious kiddos.

My Polka Dot Girl

You never think it’s going to happen to you. I remember a week ago, picking up my prescription for my two-year-old’s ear infection, half-way listening to the pharmacist telling me that she could have an allergic reaction to amoxicillin. Even though I know being allergic to medicine not genetic, in the back of mind I was thinking, “Well none of my other kids have ever been allergic to any meds, so she won’t be either.” I was wrong. And my daughter’s new polka dot looks proves it.

Her cute little face, with a "few" spots

Her cute little face, with a “few” spots

Should we play dot to dot on her chest?

Should we play dot to dot on her chest?

Yes, her arms look like an entire can of red paint splattered on them.

Yes, her arms look like an entire can of red paint splattered on them.

Her back is in on the act, too.

Her back is in on the act, too.

She has more spots than a leopard. Poor kiddo. And the doctor said it could last for a week or so. Oh well. If I want people to give me a wide berth, I just need to make sure my daughter is with me. They’ll avoid us like the plague they think she must have. Best part? Her ear is still red. So, another antibiotic, at five times the price of the first, is the new cure. Let’s hope this one doesn’t make her look like a piece of modern art.