9/11 and Diabetes Created New Concerns

Remember 9/11

This post was originally written in 2012.  The sentiments remain the same. 9/11 was horrible.  When you live with diabetes, 9/11 brought out fears and concerns that you would never previously have considered…

September 11, 2001.  Is there any adult in North America who does not remember where they were on that fateful morning?

I  had left my house early to drive to the airport 2.5 hours away to pick up my grandmother who was coming to visit from the other side of the country.  My oldest son was in school and my youngest was with me for the ride.

I stopped to do a bit of shopping and was looking at paper towels when my cell phone rang. I was told  “A plane has hit one of the towers in New York. There has been a terrorist attack.”   It made no sense to me and I didn’t believe it.  There had to be a mistake so I continued my shopping  before the next leg of my trip.

A few minutes later my phone rang a second time.  This time it was a woman from Air Canada who said,  “We have your grandmother here.  The plane can’t fly her  because all air traffic has been grounded.  We will be putting her on a boat and you can meet her tomorrow morning.”

What? The terrorist attack was real? Planes grounded?  I was shocked to the core as  I spoke to my grandmother who was in great spirits and excited to experience an Atlantic Ocean ferry boat crossing.  We  headed home and like many others, I alternated between being glued to the tv and checking my computer for updates from friends and family.

I had recently found an online support group  for parents of children with diabetes. The people there had not only become my lifeline, but also my family.  We were frantic to hear from people that we “knew” living and working near the towers in New York.

I had a cousin who was an NYC police officer. I had to find out if he was working that day or safe with his family on Long Island. Another cousin was due to go to traffic court that day in one of the Towers and I wondered if he went before the collapse? It was a day of chaos, fear and some relief.

By the end of the day, everyone was accounted for.  There were a lot of prayers for those lost as well as those who made it out alive.  As the dust settled–figuratively and literally, a new fear began to permeate.  I live on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and can easily be cut off from the rest of the world–the rest of my family.

More importantly, if we were cut off how would I get insulin or diabetes supplies? My youngest son relies on insulin to live.  What if we couldn’t get it as easily anymore? How would I keep him alive?  What if the terrorist attacks continued? Would they target pharmaceutical factories? Could I feed him no or low carb foods? Would he be okay? I could feel the panic welling.

I wasn’t alone in my concerns.   Other friends with children with diabetes were thinking similar thoughts but some were much more resourceful than me.  One friend investigated getting insulin from rabbits to use for her child.

Thankfully we never had to be concerned with any of those fears coming to pass.   My grandmother is now passed on.  Each year, we all continue to  remember exactly where we  were on that day and we say an extra prayer.

For those of us living with diabetes, we give an extra pause.  We remain grateful for access to the supplies that keep our loved ones alive.  It is oddly funny however that once diabetes enters your life, it permeates everything–even memories of disasters.

Psst, You Need To Know This…not that!

It is day one of the fourth annual Diabetes Blog Week and my brain is challenged already! The prompt asks us to write about what you wish your diabetes team could see and what you don’t want them to see about your daily life with diabetes.

This is a real challenge for me because we are very independent in our diabetes care.  Our team seems to rotate players each time we go back.  Many of them are now well aware of the fact that we are confident and knowledgeable about diabetes and I like that. It’s not like we are new to this.  It’s not like I am guessing. I have been following the wisdom and guidance of some of the top diabetes people in the world for years–many of them are friends.

I would love for them to see those interactions. I think it may help them to understand the many connections we make and the great learning tools out there for people living with diabetes.  I would want them to see the amazing books sent to me and the questions I receive from others living with diabetes–this is what your patients need to know.

I would also want them to see that despite this knowledge and confidence, diabetes does not consume every waking hour of our lives.We behave as a normal family would and enjoy life, bringing diabetes along in everything we do only because we have to.

Diabetes does consume my nights and it has for over 13 years.  This is not something to be brushed off and I would love for all diabetes teams to remember that when they tell a parent that they are overreacting. This past weekend was my birthday and Mothers Day.  We celebrated with food and friends.  I tested my son at 3am on Sunday morning, found him high and corrected with his pump.

As I lay in my bed a few hours later, I began to panic.  My son had sat down to a movie with a tray of fruit in front of him. (I wouldn’t want our team to see that he weighed and measured none of that food) I began to wonder if he had properly washed his hands before going to bed? Did he had fruit juices on his hands? I never considered that at 3am but by 5am the thought was front and center in my mind. What if he was actually in range and I gave him all of that insulin to correct a non-existent low? I was scared to check him.  The joy of the evening before had disappeared. What if I had killed him? What if I had slept through a seizure and I had killed my son trying to help him?

By 6am, I forced myself to check him.  He had moved. His body was warm.  He was still high. He was fine.  I could breathe again.

This is something I would like my diabetes team to fully understand.  We, as parents and caregivers, live with this disease on a different level from many in the medical community. Living in the trenches is more than A1cs and following the Canada Food Guide.  We work to balance living life fully with diabetes and living life.  Please do not judge or trivialize this.  Please support us with the best possible tools and education.

To read how other bloggers answered this question, please click on the following link: http://www.blenza.com/linkies/links.php?owner=dblogweek&postid=02May2013h