Seeing Blue…still

In July of 2011, I sat down and posted my thoughts on the blue candles.  Those of us in the Diabetes Online Community know them all too well. They are candles lit when a person with diabetes loses their fight with this disease.  

Once again the candles are lit.  A Canadian girl.  A 17 year old young lady who would soon graduate.  A child the same age as my son.  I don’t know the details. I don’t need to know. I can’t begin to imagine the family’s pain. I can’t even think about it. I would be swallowed up by the grief and the sadness. 

Blue Candles–they are the candles that we light in cyberspace to remember someone with diabetes who has lost the fight. Each month, each week, we seem to see these images pop up across the online community.  As profile pictures are changed on Facebook stories emerge, fears grow and the desire for a cure is that much stronger.

Most recently the candles were lit for a bright, young fourteen year old girl. She was diagnosed when she was four years old.  She laid down for a nap and her father found her dead on her bed a few hours later.  The story sends chills down my spine.  She did not die at night. She passed away sometime during the afternoon.  We do not know many of the details.  We only know that she was far too young to die.

I don’t tell my son about these stories any more. He is almost the same age and has had diabetes for a few years more than she did. I don’t light candles on my Facebook profile.  I don’t write about half of the stories that I hear.  I can’t. I read about these children–whether they are fourteen or forty, they are still someone’s children.  My heart breaks for the parents and the families. I hug my boys a little closer. I pray a little harder. I hope for the very best.

I was reading a story one day of another child lost and of course had teared up a little. Someone told me that many children sadly die each day.  It could be a complication from cancer or an asthma attack but other diseases kill as well. It was suggested that I can’t focus on these deaths and be obsessed or paranoid. I reassured this person that I wasn’t. I read. I mourn. My heart aches for the families and I grieve for the life cut short before its time.

It is true that our children die crossing the street, riding in cars and playing in swimming pools.  As parents, we do our very best to protect them.  We teach them to look both ways before crossing the street. We put them in car seats and demand that they were seat belts.  We teach them water safety and we warn them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  All in all we do our very best to guide them and pray that they will be okay.

As parents of children with diabetes, we do all of that “normal” stuff and then we do a little more.  We work to help them to recognize highs and lows.  We test them as often as we can.  We keep tight control to prevent complications and fear going too far and having to wake to a child gone because of a low.  These fears are real. They do not keep me up all night but they do wake me up at 2am to test.  They do not stop me from letting my son be a child but it does make me check his pockets for glucose and his cell phone when he goes out.

As a parent, I cannot protect either of my children 24/7 for the rest of their lives. I wish I could. As much as I love watching them grow, think and spread their wings, part of me craves for the days past when I held them tight and could keep them safe in my arms.  They are growing. My oldest son is driving and almost out of school.  My youngest is well into his teen aged years and venturing off on his own more and more.  Diabetes or not, I can only pray I have done my best, continue to do as much as I can and leave the rest up to a higher power.

Last night was my son’s first night home after a few weeks away. I went to bed and woke a few hours later than I had planned to but he was low. The story behind one of the recently light blue candles played itself out in the back of my head. After 45 minutes and a lot of juice, his blood glucose levels were back in range and I could return to bed. I said a prayer of thanks that I woke up to test him. I prayed for families who were not so lucky.  I touched my son’s hair and wanted to hold him tight and kiss him gently on the forehead like I used to when he was small. He is now a teen. If I did anything beyond quietly touch his hair he would wake up creeped out and would claim nightmares for the rest of the night! Instead, I watched him sleep and I thanked God that he was alive, healthy and happy.

I will test my son at all hours. I will remind him to bolus.  I will deal with late night lows.  I will demand to know where he is going when he leaves the house. I will preach the evils of smoking, drug use and the dangers of too much alcohol.  That is my job and I need to know that when I close my eyes I have done that job to the best of my ability. This will never guarantee the 100% safety of either of my boys but its my very best and that is all a parent can ever do.

Sometimes Your the Windshield

In honor of “throw back Thursday”, here is a post from June of 2009…

Sometimes you’re the windshield,  sometimes 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 set my alarm for early next morning…my boys’ last day of  school. I found a meter and a strip. I grabbed a lancet, waded through all of  the junk that my youngest son had left on the stairs to his room rather than putting away and was off  to test. One last check for a few hours. One check and I could sleep! We had  been out for pizza to celebrate good grades so I was sure that he would still be high. He had been 16 (288) earlier so I was certain that I was going to be able to rest.
Wrong! I  took the meter. I filled his finger with blood. The strip refused to suck. What  the???? Okay, I cleaned the finger. I got more blood. I tried again. It just  barely accepted the blood. I waited for the reading…E5. Error! Not enough blood. Oh the lovely four letter words that were on the tip  of my tongue as I headed back downstairs again. I would try this one more time.
New  meter. This one had to be better. New strip. Same lancing device. Back up the  stairs, this time grumbling and picking up items as I went. I threw the items  off to the side for my young son to deal with tomorrow and headed to his bed. Once  again, I lance his finger. Once again, I got a large amount of blood. The strip  sucked this time. I walked towards the stairs not even considering that I might have to  correct. Good thing…he was 3.2 (57)! More choice words as I shuffled off to get  some juice. I filled a glass, found a straw and went back upstairs for a third time in  less than five minutes.

My son was not keen on drinking. I finally got him to sip.  He drank t all except the last few drops which fly out of the straw and all over his pillow.  My cream pillow cases now have spots of red strawberry juice on them! I am choked. I hate diabetes.  I clean the pillow cases as best as I can and then I wait. Why are 15 minutes a lifetime when  you are dead tired and simply want this day to end?

Yeah! 5.5 (99) and I  was off to bed for two hours. Oh the fun! Oh the joys! Oh where is my DexCom Seven Plus????

Another Night, Another Battle with the DMonster

3:15am.  I looked at the clock and began to do the math. How long was it since my son went to bed? What would his bg level have been? Do I really need to test yet or was it too soon? My bed was comfy.  It took me forever to fall asleep.  Did I need to get up or should I sleep another hour?

I figured that he had probably tested around 1am but something still made me drag my tired butt out of bed. I made sure to not be fully awake. No major movements to disturb the still sleeping parts of my body.  All would be fine. My mind would be appeased and I could go back to bed…or so I would have liked but the meter said differently.

He was 4.3 (77).  Not ideal for sleeping in my world.  I quickly woke the rest of my body and my brain began to fire on a few more cylinders.  It was time to find some glucose! I went to the fridge and for some reason it was filled with diet Pepsi, diet lemonade, and zero calorie flavored water.  Nothing with any decent amount of carbs in it! Okay no panic I had glucose somewhere. Eventually I found a bottle of liquid glucose.  I got my son up enough to drink and sat on the couch to wait.

I checked out the world of Twitter. I caught up on the latest happenings in the world of Facebook and read a few pages of my book.  Soon it was time to check him again.  Success…well sort of. He was now 4.6 (83).  It was still far from ideals but he was on his way up.  I scoured his room and found a bottle of glucose tablets. He would not be happy in the morning. He says that they leave a crappy taste in his mouth when he gets up but a glucose hangover it would be.  I fed him three tablets while he slept and returned to my own bed.

I wish I could say that I instantly fell asleep but I didn’t.  By 5:30 I was still staring at  the clock.  Thankfully its Saturday so I could sleep in a little bit but by 6 I checked one more time just to make sure all was still okay. He was a lovely 7(126) so I was happy to doze for a few more hours.

Diabetes may have kicked my sleep pattern to the curb for one night but we are ready to fight another day…and make a few changes to summer basal patterns!

fight the d monster

Hello, I am a pancreas

pancreas diabetes advocacy

I am up at all hours adjusting, dosing, and praying.  A good pancreas knows that lows occur when you least expect them. They usually happen at the most inopportune times. 

The other night a low blood glucose level arrived at 2:30 in the morning.  I woke up, had my usual fight with myself, got up and tested my son.  I was surprised to see him looking back at me in a questioning sort of way. 

“You are low.”

“Okay, I will go and grab the juice.” he said.

Wow, was this the start of something new? Him treating himself? Him waking on his own?  Dare I hope?

He came up with the juice, put it on the counter and headed off towards his room.

“Where are you going??”

“To bed.”

“I don’t think so. I am up and so are you.  Sit down and drink this.”

I let him go back to sleep after his juice.  No sense both of us being awake to retest.  Besides, he is the child, I am the pancreas. It’s my job to be up.

I headed back to bed once he was in range.  Crisis averted. Now time to unwind because I have to be up at 6am later that morning.  I had to take someone to the airport and then get a few other things done.  Of course, unwind time is not instant even for a pancreas.  I toss.  I turn.  My mind races. I say thank you for being woken up once again at just the right time.  Eventually, I fall asleep knowing that in a matter of hours the alarm will sound to begin another day.

We muddle through the next day.  In order to be a good pancreas, I need to see the results of my efforts. I ask my son to fill out his log book so we can see how things are going.

“There are no problems.”

“Gee thanks for the insight.  Now let me see what has been happening.”

Eventually, he begins to transfer the data onto good old paper for his mother to look at.  I know many people are saying just download the data onto your PC. Who uses a log book? Me, that’s who.  I have to “see the stuff” to make changes.

After a bit of grumbling we head to bed and I call out “Turn off that XBox and what was your last reading?”

“Its off.”

“Yes but what was your reading?”  Silence follows. I know he hasn’t checked yet.

“5.5 (99)”

I silently swear knowing, as a good pancreas does, that I will have to check on him soon because, despite the food in his belly, we are liable to see a repeat of the previous night’s low. 

I remain pretty good at my job of chasing the inevitable havoc wreaked on my son’s body by diabetes.  Sure enough, by 1:30 am I have forced myself out of bed and he is rock bottom low.  Darn, I hate being right!

This night however, my son does not wake up.  I feed him glucose tablets as he sleeps. I chew alongside him as if that will make things go down easier.  Unfortunately I slip a little as a pancreas.  In my sleep-deprived state, I cannot chew and count tablets.  I keep putting them in my child’s lips and he keeps eating unaware of how many we have used. I decide that more is better. He will complain in the morning about the “glucose tablet” hangover he has (a horrible taste in his mouth after too many tablets being fed to him the night before).

After an hour or more, his blood glucose level is on the rise and its safe for me to get a bit of rest.  This pancreas is weary.  The pay is poor.  The hours are atrocious but the benefit of my son being alive and healthy each morning make everything else worthwhile. 

Do you monitor blood glucose levels at night or do you have a continuous glucose monitor to help you along?