Tag Archives: diagnosis

Numbers

My world has become consumed with numbers. A1c, 6.8, glucose rage 100 – 140, danger zone 70 or below, conversely 180 or above. Alarm sets for 12:00 AM, 3:00 AM, 6:00 AM, blood glucose checks every two to three hours, more if needed. Copay amounts, numbers of vials of insulin, amount of units to be dosed to cover carbs to be consumed, but through all these numbers, the most important number, five…..the age of my son who works through these numbers every hour of everyday with me.

Two nights ago, exhausted, my alarm went off at 3:00 AM, i snoozed it and 5 minutes later it went off again. I had checked Carter at midnight, and his blood sugar was 180. He didn’t have any insulin on board, other than his basal insulin and my body tried to convince me to just go back to sleep, that he was fine. My heart and brain knew better, I staggered out of bed and checked him……..45. The race began to save his life, as happens often with this disease.

My flight down the stairs began. I grabbed a juice box, a cup of milk, and some marshmallows, and his glucagon, running back upstairs prepared for anything. Carter started not being responsive to the juice box, I climbed into his bed, and sat him up, shaking, he started to open his eyes. I opened his mouth and squeezed the juice in. He started to respond. A new number became prevalent, 20, the number of minutes I would sit with him to make sure this low is properly corrected.

Carter fell back to sleep, in my arms, and I then sat counting his breaths. It’s never the same scenario, never the same number, never the same correction that works. It always feels like a gamble, shooting in the dark to see what will work this time. I then have this 20 minutes of sitting in the dark of my son’s room to think about the number of times I have called and beg and pleaded with insurance to approve the devices we need in order to keep my son alive, only to be denied.

My mind shifts to the number three, the exact number of weeks until Carter starts school, and will be in the care of teachers who don’t know what his lows look like, what his high blood sugars look like. Ten, the number of minutes it takes me to convince myself that pushing past my fears is the only way to give Carter a normal life in spite of this disease.

It’s all numbers, all the time. Luckily, this time everything worked out OK, after 20 minutes, I re-checked Carter and his blood sugar was 110. I spent the following 10 minutes stopping myself from think of the “what if” scenarios. Left back at one, another hour of sleep lost, but grateful that Carter was safe.

Managing Type 1 Diabetes is all about numbers, and calculations, and math. One wrong calculation can be unbelievably detrimental, and shift the whole day or night. We have become really good with numbers in this house, we have had to. Yet the biggest number that I hope to see grow, is the awareness of those in my life and beyond who will gain a better understanding of what carter goes through in order to survive.

The Pressure of Managing a Type 1 Diabetic

The one thing people never talk about, is the pressure associated with managing a Type 1 Diabetic child. Yes this disease is manageable, yes, there are many devices that allow for better management of a relentless disease, but the underlying responsibility and pressure are forgotten in the fold.

As the parent to a Type 1 Diabetic child, my son’s existence relies on my ability to care for him. Working feverishly to maintain stable blood sugars can feel like a futile effort most days. Not letting a bad day with Diabetes define you, can be even harder.

There have been many nights that I sit and reflect on the day and feel the guilt of things I should have done differently. After all, we have been working at managing this beast called Type 1 Diabetes for over three years now, I should be a pro by now. What I don’t account for is human error, it is so difficult to function at one hundred percent, when working on only a few hours of interrupted sleep.

Type 1 Diabetes robs you of so much, it robs you of joy some days, robs you of sleep, robs you of peace, and piles immense pressure onto an already weakened spirit. Some days it feels like it is crushing you. Yet through the ashes, beneath all this disease robs, it pushes you to view life through a different lens.

Every day, every moment is a gift. We fight every moment of everyday for survival, and for normalcy. Yet, the pressure is still there. When a severe low, or massive high rear their ugly heads, the pressure to stabilize my son can be suffocating.

When I feel completely under attack from the pressure that managing Type 1 ensues, I find that changing the scenery can help. Once I get Carter stabilized I will take the kids out of the house, take them to the park. Getting out in the fresh air, and changing our view has a forgiving effect that helps me feel human again. It can be easy, sitting in the house, feverishly monitoring blood sugars, carb intakes, insulin on board, to forget there is more than survival, there is life to live.

Some days, I have to be forced. Forced to look at the bright side, forced to get out of the house, forced to find the silver lining. These are the days when the pressure can seem like it is too much, where I would pay for a break, but it’s on these days, when once we have found the joy, it is so much more meaningful, because we have had to fight for it.

When You Feel Numb

There are days when you just feel numb. Whether you are new to diagnosis, or like us, have been managing Type 1 Diabetes for the past three years, some days are harder than others.

Carter has been struggling with lows lately, and sickness has once again permeated our home. My oldest daughter is recovering from bronchitis, and I have been working feverishly to keep the virus from attaching itself to Carter, add-on being 11-weeks into my fourth pregnancy and it’s a recipe for ultimate exhaustion.
While making dinner tonight, I heard Carter’s dex receiver beep. It was his low alert, I called him downstairs and asked him to bring me his receiver and come to me in the kitchen so I could help him correct his low. He brought me his receiver, I grabbed a yogurt handed it to him and told him to eat it.

Carter walked out of the kitchen, placed the yogurt on the dining room table, and went back upstairs to play with his sisters, unbeknownst to me. A few minutes later I hear his urgent low alarm sound. I run out of the kitchen, look at his dex, he is now 55. I race upstairs and walk into my daughter’s room and see a dazed Carter sitting on the floor.
I grab him, grab the frosting from his bag and shove it in his mouth. Once he is rising, and has finally hit a number in range, out of pure frustration I yelled at him. I yelled at him for being so irresponsible, for creating an emergency that wasn’t needed, but mostly because he knowingly left me to be the only one caring about his low blood sugar. Eventually Carter understood the error he had made, and promised me he would work harder at following instructions so this doesn’t happen again.

Now that my son is peacefully asleep, with good blood sugars, I am overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. I understand that my son is only 4-years-old, but by the same token, having been dealing with Type 1 Management for the past three years, he is well aware of what is required to keep him healthy. I am very open with my son with the care we must have to ensure his survival, and what that entails, as well as the ramifications of not following the regime. Not taking care of himself results in a hospital stay at best, at worst it means death.

When Type 1 Diabetes has been dealt, there is no time for games. No time to test the waters, the consequences of playing games is too costly. I can’t be the only one in this house who cares about his health. With Carter starting school in less than six months, he has to obtain an accountability for his care.

He has to grow up fast, it’s unfair, it sucks, but it’s necessary. If I wasn’t preparing him to care for himself without my presence, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Mom.

So though I feel guilty, though I feel sorrow, I know these feelings are temporary, that tomorrow is a new day, and that with each incident Carter is learning a lesson. He’s learning what my expectations of him are, what he must do to stay healthy, that he is accountable, but most of all, even though there was anger, he knows it is out of immense love for him that I am so serious about his care.

May tomorrow be filled with more feeling, feelings of joy, feelings of love, and less filled with the numb walk of going through the motions of managing Type 1 Diabetes.

Barely Hangin On

Carter 4. 2016I’m not quite sure what landed me at this edge, feeling like I am barely hanging on. In a way, it feels familiar, like I have camped out here before, frequently.

Maybe the gateway to this campsite is illness. Any sickness that Carter contracts brings an anxiety that is difficult to describe. Most minute illnesses we get through without any issue, then there are those that land my son in the emergency room. This past Thursday was one of those times.

We had been battling the stomach flu, it began with Natasha, my 11-month-old, worked its way to Ashleigh, my six-year-old, and finally latched onto my three-year-old Type 1 Diabetic son. Both my daughters threw up twice, replenished fluids and rested and recovered within a full 24 hours.

Carter, began throwing up at 8:00 am and by 6:00 pm he had thrown up 8 times. He couldn’t keep anything down. It was at that point that I called the endocrinologist. Although his blood sugars were good, I could see the beginnings of something brewing. Dehydration, Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), when Carter’s eyes started to look sunken in, I knew it was time to take him in.

Lately, I feel as though I am starving for mercy.  It has felt like one thing after the other as I struggle to hang on to the edge of the cliff I fell off of three long years ago.  Watching my son battle Type 1 Diabetes has been humbling, heartbreaking, and unequivocally stressful all at the same time.

I am tired of the guess-work that it requires to keep my son alive.  I hate that I can look in his eyes and see that he’s heading toward a low, or a high blood sugar, yet at the same time I am grateful.  Grateful that through immense trial and error I now know how to see it in his demeanor before it strikes.

I’m sad that the hospital is a close comfort, because I know that they have everything at their disposal to save my child.  I hate watching my son be brave for all the pokes, all the site changes, all the IV’s, and all the scar tissue which is evidence of his condition.

Being on the brink of a breakdown seems to be where I have set up camp.  I don’t know how long I will stay, or if my camp will ever move on to acceptance.   I do what I can to find a way to survive where I am, never having all the answers, always having to fight, not just for my son’s life, but for understanding from the non-diabetic community.

Those who don’t live this life, 24/7 don’t understand the difficulty.  In a way, I feel it is my duty to report what we go through.  Maybe to raise awareness, but mostly to raise empathy.  I would hate to watch my son navigate through an environment where no one knew what Type 1 Diabetes entailed, and had no idea how hard it was to live in a world that requires constant vigilance and monitoring.

Carter was released 5 hours after being admitted to the Emergency Room, luckily that is all he needed this time.  I caught him in dehydration, and the beginning of DKA.  I’m glad that I caught it, I’m happy that I stopped DKA in its tracks, but angry at the same time that my son is continually haunted by the possibility of an illness where he is worse off than his sisters because of a misunderstood autoimmune disease that doesn’t play fair.

I would be remiss, if I didn’t document these trails, if I didn’t talk candidly about the world that the majority of Type 1 Diabetics live in, just on the brink, the brink of  life, which consequently also is the brink of insanity.

I believe that is the cliff I have been hanging on for the past 2.5 years, the brink of insanity.  Knowing at any moment my son could land in the ER, knowing that my tireless efforts throughout the day, are futile, knowing that even though I live in “groundhog day” the outcome of each day managing Type 1 in my son, always delivers a different outcome.

It’s unfair, it’s inconsistent, but it’s our reality.  It’s our hell, it’s our purgatory, until there is a cure.

Type 1 Diabetes, Two Years Later

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.

 

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.