Diabetes is harder some days than others

This post was originally written in 2009.  My son now manages his own diabetes care.  He wakes for his lows.  He treats his highs but one thing remains the same–diabetes is hard no matter who is responsible for care for the daily tasks. 

bug on windshield from Diabetes Advocacy

“Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.” Today I am definitely feeling like the bug!

It was after midnight and of course I was dying to get to sleep. I had set my alarm for early the next morning.  It would be my son’s last day of school.

I found a meter and a strip. I grabbed a lancet, waded through all of the junk that the boys had left on the stairs rather than putting away. Off I headed to test my son’s blood sugar level. I hope it would be the last check for a few hours. One check and I could sleep!

We had been out for pizza earlier that day to celebrate good grades so I was certain that my youngest son would still be high. He had been  16 mmol (288mg/dl) earlier in the evening, so you know I was certain that I was going to be able to rest.

Wrong! Diabetes doesn’t work that way.

I took the meter. I lanced his finger. A pool of blood was created. The strip refused to suck.

What the???? Okay, I cleaned the finger. I got more blood. I tried again. The glucometer just barely accepted the blood. I waited for the reading…E5. It was an error reading!!

There hadn’t been enough blood to get a blood sugar reading. Oh the lovely four letter words that were on the tip of my tongue as I headed back downstairs to get more test strips and another glucometer.

I found a new meter. I was certain that this one had to be better than the last. A new test strip was in my hand. The same lancing device was being used. Back up the stairs I went.  This time I grumbled and picked up items as I went by.

Once again, I lanced my son’s finger. Again, I got a large amount of blood. The strip sucked the blood this time! I walked towards the stairs not even considering having to correct a high blood glucose reading. That was a good thing because he didn’t need insulin.  He was 3.2 (57).

He was low!

I uttered a few more choice words as I shuffled off to get some juice. I filled a glass, found a straw and trudged up the stairs for a third time in less than five minutes.

My son wasn’t keen on drinking. I continued to cajole him until he finally began to sip. Thankfully he drank it all except the last few drops. Those were sucked up into the straw and somehow flew all over his pillow.  I was not happy.  There was now strawberry juice all over a cream pillowcase.  I cleaned it off as best as I could.

I waited.

Fifteen minutes can become a lifetime when you are dying for sleep. These are the moments when you just think to yourself…diabetes is hard.  Why us?

Eventually, it was time to recheck.  He was  5.5 (99) and I was finally off to bed for two hours before it would be time to check his blood sugar again.

Diabetes is hard.  Diabetes care is a challenge.  Some days things seem okay…and other days you feel like you are a bug squished against a windshield.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by diabetes, join our online group and share your feelings with others who live with diabetes too.

I am the Robert Munsch Momma. What type are you?

I was recently approached by the Outreach Coordinator of Oscar Health Insurance and asked if I would do a post on what it was like being a mother of a child with diabetes. She asked that I look at a title along the lines of “I am a mother.  What type are you?”  I thought that there could be a lot of posts with that title so I decided to make my title a bit more specific to my situation.

When my children were small I loved reading Robert Munch books to them.  One book that resonated with me was “Love you Forever“.  A lot of people find the book creepy. Sadly, to me it makes a lot of sense.

My youngest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was only 2 years old.  He is now 17.  I have spent a lot of nights crawling quietly into his room to test him, feed him, or give him insulin–all while he remained sleeping.  I have spent a lot of those nights watching over both of my children thankful that they were alive and praying that they remained safe.

The days, just like for the mother in the book were different.  When my son was small, getting him to eat was a challenge. Like his mother, he was not big on breakfast.  Unlike his mother, he had injected insulin in his system that demanded food to cover it. Our life was hell.  I would have to force feed a willful toddler who had no idea why this was happening to him,  Despite the tears and frustration of the long days,  each night I still would see his beautiful sleeping face and I would again be grateful for that insulin that was keeping him alive.

Like Robert Munsch’s character, my son grew, and grew and grew until he too was a pre-teen who walked his own path.  No matter how long he had lived with diabetes, he forgot to test. He missed insulin doses.  He forgot to change his infusion sets…and he lied about it.

There is a lot of guilt when dealing with a child with diabetes. We, as parents, should have been able to protect them from such an evil disease. They should not have to bear this burden.  With the help of people like Joe Solowiejczyk, I learned that it was okay to punish for diabetes related lapses just as I would for failure to brush his teeth or do his homework.   I learned that  as this was the hand that we were dealt and it was up to us to make the very best of it.

My son continued to grow.  He grew and he grew until he was a teenager and once again, there were new challenges for both of us.  As he grew, he worked to push me (and diabetes) further away as he struggled for his own independence.  He no longer wanted to be bothered by a mother asking about readings.  He wanted to work-out and talk to his friends. He wanted to do it on his own…and I was terrified.

When my son turned 16, he took the biggest leap towards his own independence.  He chose to move to finish his last years of high school. Today, I no longer see my son daily. He lives about 1000km away from me.  We text and call. When he has a problem, I am always there at the end of the phone but he deals with his own doctors appointments and daily diabetes care. I still worry.

He comes to visit me during the holidays and instantly my “momma clock” returns and I am awake to test him during the night. He enjoys the break and I am once again the mother in “I’ll Love you forever”. I am creeping into this big, young man’s room, quietly lancing his finger and saying a prayer of gratitude when the readings are okay and I know he is safe.

In another year, he will be finished high school and plans to move back in with me to complete his post-secondary training.  It will be a different dynamic for both of us. He is no longer the little boy I once rocked to sleep. He is now a young man with a full life ahead of him but no matter what…well my boys will always still be my little boys and I will always be just like that momma in Mr. Munsch’s story….  I will love them forever. I will like them for always.  As long as I’m living my babies they will be.


Error 5

error 5I looked over and my clock said 3:00am exactly. My mind said, “what are you doing awake?” My heart said, “Get your sorry butt out of bed and check your child’s blood sugar.” Stupid heart!

I keep lighting to a minimum during these checks because basically, I don’t want to wake myself up. I know how hard it is to get me back to sleep and I really don’t want to experience that sort of torture.  I found a meter on the kitchen table. I inserted a test strip, grabbed a lancing device and headed up the stairs to check my sleeping child’s blood.  

My mind was screaming, “You’ve only just fallen asleep so you KNOW he is going to be low! You are just never going to get any sleep tonight!”

I tried to ignore myself. I searched for an available finger and eventually wrestle it down. The blood flow was good that night. He must have been high. I waited for those five seconds to see…..Error 5.

What the…..???? What the heck is an “error 5” anyway? Back downstairs to get another test strip. Stupid meter. There was a tonne of blood. Did the diabetes gods not realize that this is just going to wake me up?? I did not need exercise at 3am! 

Okay, new test strip, back upstairs, wrestle finger again, lots of blood still, strip full and…..Error 5.  What the heck is a flippin’ Error 5??? I had had enough! Back downstairs I went for the third freaking time.

Can you tell that diabetes had done it and woken me up? Yep, I was awake and I was not taking this crap from this meter. I grabbed its identical, although slightly different colored twin, who was coded for the same test strip lot. I also grabbed the bottle of test strips. I would get a reading without doing my morning workout on the stairs!

Again, I found a hand as it stretches in its sleep.  I snafu’d it quickly and lanced it. The blood remained lovely and deep red. Strip sipped said blood and….Finally a reading of 7.5 (135)! Good enough for me. I didn’t need a perfect 7. I needed some sleep! 

Stupid diabetes!