Tag Archives: Siblings

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.

The Bond of Siblings

Ashleigh and Carter 7.2013
Ashleigh and Carter 7.2013

There is nothing better, as a parent, than watching your children play and enjoy the bond of siblings.  As much as Carter loves his sister, Ashleigh adores her brother.  I took Ashleigh out for a mommy/daughter date the other week and thirty-minutes in she was saying how much she missed her brother.  It reminded me of when Carter was in the hospital upon his diagnosis, I came home 2 days later to spend some time with my daughter.  I did my best to explain what was going on, and even allowed her to sit with me on the couch late drinking hot chocolate while we watched a movie.  Around 10:30 PM Ashleigh turned to me and let me know she was ready for bed.  I carried my daughter upstairs, in our empty house since my husband and Carter were still at the Hospital, I laid her down in her bed and covered her up.  About 45 minutes later I heard her walking down the hall.  I walked out of my room to find her laying in Carter’s bed.  I asked her what she was doing, through her sleepiness she told me she missed her brother and wanted to sleep in his bed.  I tucked her in, and remember standing in the doorway of my son’s room, as I watched my daughter sleeping in his bed, realized that this house and our lives would never be the same.  Those thoughts could not have been more true, yet now I view the whole situation differently then I did that night.  I believe now, we enjoy every moment, never taking anything for granted.  My family is so devoted to each other,  I can’t imagine going through my day without the comfort and support of my husband, my daughter, or my son.  These days, joy is easier to find, I find it in every breath we take.  I enjoy watching the strength of the bond that my children share with each other.  I love that when not in the presence of each other, my children miss and long for each other.  I love when I am putting my children to bed at night, after brushing their teeth, my son will climb into bed with his sister and they will hug and cuddle.  I may feel as though I produce many shortcomings throughout each day, everyday, yet when I look at the bond that my children have with each other, I see something that is wonderful.  With the grace of God, I have been successful in guiding an unconditional love between my children, where they lean on each other and grow with each other.  As sucky as this diagnosis is, I find that it has brought out a love we didn’t even know existed.   Nothing brings me more joy than watching my children play and enjoy each other, we have had a lot of that lately.  Especially due to the rains we have been experiencing here in CA, it’s been so wonderful to watch my kids laugh and play together.  If I have a positive from this whole diagnosis, it is that we have been forced to lean on each other and create a deeper love and understanding of each other in my wonderful immediate family.  I am so enriched daily by my interactions with my children and husband, and am blessed beyond belief, that through this endeavor we have bonded together, and have the ability to watch the bond of siblings grow continually between my children.

Fixing Carter’s Diabetes

Ashleigh CookingThis phrase came out of my daughters mouth with such conviction, “Mom, I’m going to fix Carter’s Diabetes.”  I think what got me more, was the fact that Ashleigh said it to me through her tears.  I feel I am in the battle all day long.  I’m either battling high blood sugars, low blood sugars, making sure Carter is getting activity, or I’m battling Ashleigh’s, and let’s be honest my fears.  I hate Diabetes, I work so hard daily not to allow it to rob my children of their carefree childhoods, but there are days when blow after blow wears on me.  It’s bad enough that Carter has to grow up so much faster, it pisses me off that now Ashleigh is feeling the burden too.  Yet, this isn’t called a family disease for nothing.  Even though the  initial ice breaker is hard, all in all I am happy that Ashleigh talks to me about her feelings.  We ended up having a wonderful, and lengthy conversation tonight about her feelings and Carter and his Diabetes.  I am fully aware that this phase won’t last long, soon we will all have matured in the face of Diabetes and will look back at this time.  I embrace it all as growth for all of us, however it doesn’t stop my heart from shattering when my children are inflicted with uncertainty or frustration and pain due to this diagnosis.  One of the hardest things, being the mom, is that I can’t peel all of the fear and stress off of them and put it all on me.  Then again, this is how we grow and learn in life so to shelter them from it all would be wrong.  I do my best to let her vent about it all and we talk through everything, this for now, seems to give her comfort and a release.  I don’t want either of my children to feel helpless or defeated by this.  Though stuck in the moments of these incidents I feel filled with sorrow, I know long-term, going through all of this now will solidify their bond with each other and their bond with me and essentially create a force to be reckoned with when they hit the real world.  I admire my daughters awareness, and hope that through our open discussions, soon she will understand that though she is involved with the day-to-day operations of this with her brother, this isn’t her burden to carry.  I hope that she will find peace and solace knowing  that with her love and care, she is giving her brother the biggest gift of all, understanding.  But most of all, I hope that as the days wear on, we all as a family gain better clarity and continue to bond together in order to find the positivity we all need to manage day-to-day.

The Non-Diabetic Sibling

Ashleigh car
Ashleigh – November 2013

It must be hard to be the non-diabetic sibling in a family where things revolve so much around Diabetes. I imagine, for my daughter Ashleigh, these past two months have been a huge mix of emotions as well. Being that she is only four years old, getting her to sit down and talk with me about how she is feeling can be fleeting at times.  It’s hard to remember sometimes, as a family we all have our own connections to Carter and our own feelings regarding his diagnosis.  Ashleigh, as they get older, will bare the brunt of the protecting since they will be in school together.  I try to put myself in her shoes some days, and wonder how she is coping with all this.  It must be especially hard, since she is at an age where she is already leery about sharing attention with Carter anyway, and now that he gets so much attention, albeit the attention involves needles and pricks, I watch her struggle to get attention, be it good or bad.  I involve her as much as I can with all of Carter’s newest needs, and remind her that his world revolves around her, and wanting to be just like her.  Ashleigh was with us the day that we went to the Emergency Room and Carter was diagnosed.  Since he was air lifted to a children’s hospital 70 miles away from our home, once we left the Emergency Room, I dropped her off with one of my sisters.  After the initial scare, Ashleigh didn’t see Carter for two days.  I came and picked her up and the third day of Carter’s hospital stay she spent the whole day at the hospital.  I did what I could to explain what was going on and for the most part she knows that Carter was sick.  I try to keep everything as light as I can, but continue to remind myself that Ashleigh doesn’t understand what is going on and requires not explanations, but attention.  It’s been interesting to get her into the habit of not sharing any food with Carter, and remembering to always clear her plate and drink off the table when she is done with it.  I am so proud of her acceptance and how she takes everything in stride.  Her simplicity of view helps me on the days when I am feeling exceptionally downtrodden.  Some days I choose to view things through Ashleigh’s eyes, to accept the fact that Carter has new needs, and then move past it and continue our day.  All in all, Carter is so lucky to have Ashleigh as an older sister.  Her strength, and tenacity will prove to be a force for Carter, especially on the days when he is fed up with everything he has to go through.  I watch them now, in their young years, and see how their bond has grown stronger.  I watch Ashleigh make sure that Carter is drinking his water, and watching him to make sure he doesn’t need a snack.  I watch her protect him when at the park, and play with him when he’s the youngest one on the playground and no one else will.  I watch her selflessly give up playing with older kids because her brother needs her.  My daughter, though she doesn’t understand all this diagnosis has changed, realizes that in a deeper level her brother just needs her a little bit more.  She wears the title of big sister with pride, and I stand in awe at her capacity to love him, and the tender hearts they both have for each other.  I find comfort in knowing that when Carter does start school, I leave him in good hands, and know that Ashleigh will not only be his best friend, but the best caretaker he will ever have outside of our home.