What I’ve Learned After Two Years

11.20.15It’s two years later, and what have I learned? I’ve learned never to have expectations from Type 1 Diabetes, whatever I expect Type 1 to do, it will do the opposite.

I’ve learned that no matter the efforts, no matter what the statistics have been with Carter’s numbers for the past week, the day I think all will be well, it won’t.
I learned that in an instant, everything changes.
I’ve learned a new depth of sorrow. I’ve learned how to rapidly pull myself out of that hole, so I can manage Type 1 for my son.
I have learned who my real friends and family are.

I have learned to walk alongside something I hate with every fiber of my being, and work with it, not against it.
I learned that Type 1 Diabetes is a family disease and it affects my daughter, Carter’s older sister, just as much as me.
I have learned how to push past the distraction, past the pain, past the disappointment and love like I have never loved before.

I have learned how to value life, how precious every moment truly is.
I have learned patience, perseverance, and passion in advocacy.
I have learned about how I am in charge not only of my happiness, but the happiness of my children, especially my son after each poke he endures.
I have learned, that no matter how tired, how defeated I feel each morning, MY mood sets the tone for the rest of the day.
I have learned to really celebrate the victories, as they are few.
I have learned the true definition of surrender. My biggest adversary is something I cannot control.
I have learned the depth of a mothers love, over and over, and over again.
I have learned what it means to never give up. Never give in, and never back down.
I have learned how to live under constant pressure.
Most of all, I have learned a convoluted, antiquated process filled with algorithms that are necessary to keep my son alive. Insulin is not a cure, it is my son’s life support. I hate the process, but I love the outcome. I remember that on November 20, 2013 I was faced with losing my son, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that never happens again.
I learned about my strength, I learned that no matter how wounded or scared my heart is, I always have the capacity for great love for my children.
I have learned that through tragedy, come great triumphs. I hate Type 1 Diabetes, but I love what it has brought out in my family in these past two years.

The Impact of Type 1 Diabetes

Carter and Daddy beach June 2015It had been two days since I’d showered, standing in the bathroom in the same clothes I was in two days earlier when we took my son to the Emergency Room when he was then diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I looked at my tired face trying to convince myself everything was OK.

It’s manageable, I told myself, nothing will change, I told myself….I was wrong, everything changed.  Everything continues to change.  Relationships,  outings, our daily routine, car rides, meals, baths, fun days, days filled with lethargy, too much activity, not enough activity, NOTHING is ever the same.

Having a child with Type 1 Diabetes is a lot like being the only married couple in your group of friends who has kids.  There is no common ground anymore,  ground where you can relate with what your other friends are going through.  Human nature propels you, when in this situation, to find new friends who have kids and you somewhat leave your old, single friends behind as you grow.

The same is true with a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, you are living a different life, in a different world, where relating with your daily reality as a caregiver to a Type 1 Diabetic child is difficult to understand.  People think you’re overreacting, or a helicopter parent as you monitor your child’s every move, every morsel they consume, in order to calculate the insulin dose they need to cover what they have ingested.  Too much insulin, they die, too little they die, it’s all too much to explain to someone who doesn’t know what it is like to live without a working pancreas.

Extended family, old friends, new friends,  there is so much to explain, all of the time,  so much to be judged on by the unknowing  eye.  In an effort to remain protected,  you disconnect.   Everything is too exhausting, and it’s too much to explain to those who have never gone through this crisis.

It’s refreshing when you surround yourself with those who have been through the dark tunnel you have.  Those who know what it feels like to always have the hair standing up on the back of your neck, those who reassure you that you’re not being overprotective, or ridiculous, or irrational, those who know what it is like to walk in to check your child’s blood sugar and breathe a sigh of relief when you pick up their hand and it’s warm.

The reality is that having a child with Type 1 Diabetes, death is always shadowing you.  Miraculously the disease is manageable, yet the effort poured into managing your child’s health is often overlooked.  Type 1 Diabetes, for all intents and purposes is a silent disease.  One that isn’t visible, and  one that shrouds the care that is necessary in mystery, but for those who live it.

As I sat there in that hospital bathroom, looking at my tired face, watching the lines being etched, and the grey hairs forming, desperately trying to convince myself this was all doable, manageable, I was unaware that in those moments I was shedding who I used to be.  That week in the hospital we were given the armor we needed to navigate through this life with a diabetic child, but we weren’t trained on how to navigate the existing relationships who had no way of understanding what we needed.  We didn’t even understand what we needed to survive.

Finding your new path while working feverishly to maintain some semblance of normalcy, leaves hurt feelings in the wake of your diagnosis.  It takes some time to be OK with those who judge or wallow in the hurt of being left behind.  After all, there is a bigger purpose here, a bigger calling.  Let those who don’t understand find their path, your time is filled, navigating the path toward those who do understand and who stand at the end of the tunnel with open arms to embrace you.


Tired of Type 1 Diabetes


I’m tired.  Tired of the blood checking, tired of the dosing, tired of the mathematical calculations, but most of all, I’m tired of watching my son battle this disease every minute of every day.

I’m tired of the constant changes, tired of the not knowing, tired of the what ifs, tired of grieving.  I would love a break, it’s something I fantasize about, dream about, something I know is not a reality.

I think back to those first 17-months of my son’s life, it was a different time back then.  It was a time where we took every minute of every day for granted.  We were carefree, before I even had a concept of what the word carefree really meant.  We lived “normal” lives, with the “normal” worries.  What we were going to wear that day, what we would eat for dinner, where I would take the kids to get them out of the house.

Now there is so much effort put into Carter’s care.  It’s exhausting.  We went to look at insulin pumps today, and I wasn’t prepared for the emotion it would bring to the surface.  It wasn’t long ago that we were thrust into this life, with no choice, now here I was looking at technology strewn across the table, and presented with the choice of which small device I wanted to pick to assist me in keeping my son alive.

I am grateful for the insulin pump, which will allow greater freedom for Carter to be a child, though connected to a device, he won’t have to slow down to get a shot.  This in turn will allow him to not get poked multiple times throughout the day, it will be one bigger poke every 3 days and then but for the cell phone shaped pump he will harness to his clothes, Type 1 Diabetes will be somewhat less invasive.

For all intents and purposes, today should have been a joyous occasion, well as joyous as picking out hardware for a disease you hate could be.  But as we sat and listened to what training would be required, how the pump differs from multiple daily injections, the risk of Carter being able to unlock the pump and dose himself enough insulin to kill him, the weight of this change hit me.

All in all, I know this is the right choice, the right change, it will carry with it a learning curve, as any change that sustains your child’s life should.  I know I will have better management of Carter’s numbers, he will be in range more, he will be free enjoy being a kid, etc. etc.  Yet there are aspects that are a scary new.

As I sat tonight meditating on the choices ahead of me while out to dinner, I sat at the table with Ashleigh and Natasha while Greg took Carter to the restroom with him.  As we sat at the table, across the way from the bathroom, I heard Carter’s screams and yells.  I looked up and met Ashleigh’s sad eyes as she said to me: “Carter just got his shot.”  It was affirmation that I’m making a better choice for my son.

I hate Type 1 Diabetes, and ultimately, I’m just tired.

Switching to an Insulin Pump


Researching insulin pumps is bittersweet.  It’s exciting knowing that there will be more freedom for your child, yet at the same time, it’s a daunting task.  Searching for the best “device” to keep your child alive, was never something I thought I would have to do.

I look at the features of these insulin pumps and am impressed with how I will be able to remotely dose Carter from another room, as opposed to having to chase him and nail him down to inject the insulin up to eight times a day.  Then of course, the stories from other pump users about the tightening of numbers, better A1c numbers, etc.  The pro’s seem to negate the cons.

Yet the closer I get, my nerves make me wonder if I am strong enough to go through with it all.  Learning a new system, one which may take up to a month to fully understand and tweak to get Carter’s ratios right, it all seems counter-intuitive.

I am comfortable with Multi Daily Injections, but deep down I know Carter isn’t.     Carter is who this is ultimately about, although I know the one larger poke every 2-3 days will take some getting used to, Carter will enjoy being more “normal” while walking through the most not normal circumstances, having to manage his Type 1 Diabetes.

Carter’s health and well-being are the most important thing to me, no matter what I have to do to accomplish that.  Yet, I feel like I am yet again grieving this diagnosis, though we are almost 2-years into it.  Up until now, Carter’s Type 1 Diabetes was virtually an invisible disease.  One that was only noticed when I would check his blood or dose him.  Now, wearing a pump, it will be an advertisement of his condition.

All this makes me realize how fragile I still am.  When we started giving Carter shots, we didn’t have a choice.  It was a necessity in order to keep him alive and have him survive.  Now I have a choice, it’s odd making life saving choices for your preschooler; and honestly given the choice, I would choose not to have to deal with Type 1 Diabetes.

Ultimately,  all I’m trying to do is raise a healthy and happy little boy who doesn’t feel held back.  Right now I believe the pump will give us that.  It’s hard enough having Type 1 Diabetes to manage, I’m striving to give my son just a little bit more freedom, and hopefully through this new learning curve and process it will help me feel less broken.


Heartbreak Heard Around the World

Know the symptomsHeartbreak, disbelief, anguish.  These are the feelings I had this weekend when I heard news of Kycie Terry’s passing.    For six months I have followed the story of the beautiful, bright-eyed 5-year-old who won our hearts with her story of courage, and strength on the day she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in January 2015.

Followed the next day with the passing of another angel, David Brown II at the age of 4.  Another story of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) that could have been avoided had they been checked at the hospital with a glucometer.  David’s blood sugar was 770, which tragically ended his life when his brain swelled, and his kidney’s eventually failed due to the time with such high blood sugar.

These two tragedies arrive on the heels  of a week riddled with frustration within the diabetic community.  The CrossFit slander campaign, which incorrectly linked sugar to all diabetes diagnosis, was an exhausting hole to dig Type 1 Diabetes out of.  It’s incorrect information, such as CrossFit was spreading, that promotes the tragedy that is DKA.

People don’t automatically think their child could be suffering from the early onset of Type 1 Diabetes, because they don’t know the signs, they equate the disease to sugar intake and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Extreme thirst, immense urination (more than usual), significant drop in weight, sleepy all the time, these are a few of the symptoms that would be a reason to go to the ER and have your child’s blood sugar checked.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is becoming an epidemic, my family is so fortunate to have made it through a DKA diagnosis.  Carter’s blood sugar was 880, higher than David’s and Carter was so much smaller.  My heart aches for these two families who lost their children this past weekend.  I can’t imagine the grief and anguish they feel, seeing how close we were to losing Carter, or having life altering complications, make me see how miraculous it is that Carter has had zero complications from his stint in DKA.

There is no excuse for doctors to not have the ability to check blood sugars with a simple prick to the finger.  One drop of blood makes all the difference, one drop of blood could save lives.  Misinformation needs to be corrected, and not just by the diabetic community.  It’s the responsibility of doctors to get behind this cause, we need to guard our children better.

The heartbreak heard around the world this weekend, was unnecessary, and due to misdiagnosis.  Now is the time to make changes, advocate for the children who aren’t able to advocate for themselves, it’s not just their health that is at stake, it’s their lives.

To the families of Kycie Terry and David Brown II, my most sincerest heartfelt condolences for the loss of your two precious babies.  Kycie and David will not be forgotten, their lives have meaning and they will help fuel the necessary changes that need to be made in order to protect future children from this horrible disease.



Type 1 Diabetes and PTSD

Carter HospitalWhen your child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, you are left with scars. Scars you don’t even realize are there, until the scars get ripped open again.

Sick days have come and gone throughout the course of this past year and a half of managing my son’s Type 1 Diabetes, all without incident.  This week, everything changed.  The dreaded return to the hospital inched closer and closer.

Carter started a fever on Wednesday afternoon, an afternoon where we happened to be on our second day of a mini vacation and 300 miles away from home.   I monitored his symptoms and fever, and Thursday morning his ketone strip showed he had large ketones.  Carter hasn’t had ketones since his diagnosis in November 2013.

At first I panicked, then I called Carter’s Endocrinologist.  We walked through the care I needed to provide, and we headed home.  By Thursday night I had reduced his ketones from large to moderate.  By Friday morning his ketones were back up to large.  It was then that I decided to take him to the Children’s Hospital.

Since this was the hospital he was diagnosed at, walking in after almost two years was rough.  I felt a twinge if PTSD as we entered the hospital.  Being in the ER was new, but when we were admitted, walking onto the peds floor, the smell of it took me back to November 2013, Carter’s diagnosis.  I was overwhelmed with heartache.

Being a parent, especially one to a child with a disability, carries an extra heavy weight with it.  The decisions we have to make aren’t always the easiest ones, often times they involve admitting our child to the hospital where we know there will be pain and suffering in order to catch up to survival.

Watching my now 3-year-old struggle with fear while we sat waiting for the IV to be put in was horrible.  I wanted nothing more than to scoop him up and walk out of the hospital and go home.  I knew that wasn’t an option.  I knew if my son had any chance of getting over this virus without entering into Diabetic Ketoacidosis remaining and getting an IV was the only solution.

Being in the hospital with the year and a half’s worth of knowledge we reluctantly have learned made this stay extra frustrating and difficult.  Knowing the specific things that worked for Carter within his care and having pushback from the nurses who weren’t familiar with managing Type 1 Diabetes in such a young child was unbelievably frustrating.  Yet it reminded me that no matter the situation, even with medical staff, I am always my son’s best advocate.

Reliving what we went through at diagnosis, thankfully on a smaller scale, brought back so many old feelings, and unwrapped scares I thought I had successfully allowed to heal.  I started to get angry, but decided to pour that anger and sadness into fighting harder for a cure.

Although our latest overnight stay at the hospital was difficult emotionally and physically draining, it was necessary for Carter to get well.  It also allowed us as a family, included Carter to grow when it comes to managing Type 1 Diabetes in him.  We are now all acutely aware of new ways to assist in reducing a hospital stay, and were reminded how quickly things can change when it comes to life with Type 1 Diabetes.

Coping with New Changes

Ashleigh Carter and Natasha June 2015It has been 6 weeks since we brought our newest bundle of joy home, our daughter, Natasha Marie who was born at the end of April.

Her birth was obviously anticipated, and we were so excited to welcome her, my husband and I, but none more than our oldest two Ashleigh and Carter.  They couldn’t wait for her arrival and when she finally was born they never wanted to leave her side.

To say I was ill prepared to manage life with not just 3 children where the oldest is 5, but also with a 3-year-old Type 1 Diabetic in the mix is the understatement of the century.

I thought back to bringing Carter home, the transition seemed so fluid.  He was just a welcome addition to our home and though the adjustment period lasted a bit, soon we were a well oiled machine just with one extra amazing addition to the home.

Adding a third child is challenging, but adding one into a home where their closest sibling is a Type 1 Diabetic is difficult.  There are many times that I feel as though I gave birth to twins.  My newborn needed me that second, as did my type 1 diabetic son.  The choice was easy, take care of the diabetic first, as consequences of making him wait a second longer could lead to catastrophic results.  It went against every instinct that my recently launched into postpartum self knew.

Waiting with my Type 1 Diabetic son, and lately having to coax him to consume carbs and sugars to fix low blood sugars, is unbelievably difficult with a crying hungry newborn in tow.

However, we have adjusted.  Carter is learning to take a more active role in his care, Ashleigh is learning how to be the best helper ever, and Natasha is learning how to have patience with me when unforeseen circumstances arise.

As stressful as it is, through working together, we have all found a new routine.  What I find interesting is at every doctor appointment since Carter’s diagnosis, my blood pressure has been uncharacteristically high.  Just more proof of the hidden price we as parents of Type 1 Diabetics pay.  We are continually under stress, every situation can change in an instant and we are fighting for our child’s life.  Cut to a split second later when all has been fixed, we are celebrating our success.

This life is a definite roller coaster ride, filled with many highs and lows, and I’m not just referring to blood sugars.  With every defeat and with every victory, there are lessons.  Stopping my life because we were handed an unforgiving disease wasn’t an option.

We choose to live and not survive, and part of living is growing our family and giving my children a new wonderful sibling who can join our constant fight and advocacy against Type 1 Diabetes.  Natasha is so small, and has yet to realize the strength of her big brother and big sister.  In her short 6 weeks of life, she has proven, already, to have the same fighting spirit.  A spirit that will reign supreme when it comes to assisting in making sure Carter’s rights aren’t forfeited, or that he is treated differently due to his disability.  Yes little one, you fit on just perfectly and are already such a blessing.

All things frustrating and encouraging about Type 1 Diabetes