A New Chapter

This is a post I have put off writing.  My life has taken a new turn. I have not been sure how much I would share and let alone where to start, where to end and how to collect my thoughts and feelings into something sensible. I still don’t.

At the end of August my world seemed to shatter.  It didn’t of course, it simply changed courses at a time when I was least expecting it. My youngest son broke the news to me that since he was about to turn 16, he felt that he was old enough to choose where to live and he wanted to exercise his right to make that choice. I have been divorced from my children’s father for a number of years and we now live hundreds of miles apart. My son wanted to go home.  He wanted to move nine hours away to live with his father and be near his life-long friends.

To say that I was hurt and upset would be an understatement. I came up with all of the reasons that this was a bad idea. He gave me all of the reasons that it wasn’t.

He said that he only had two more years and he could move out on his own anyway. I countered that these last two years were vital for me to help him, guide him and teach him how to handle his own care. This was to be our transition years. He countered that transitioning for two years while living with his father was an even better way to learn.  He does the bulk of his own care when he is with his father but if he got into trouble, Dad would still be a bit of a safety net. We continued to go back and forth on other issues like school, responsibility and learning to drive.

I told him that I would not allow it. I would not put his health or his education in jeopardy. I was hurt. I was upset. I cried more tears than I had in a long time. I contacted my lawyer. I reached out to friends and family.  I was soon reminded that this was not about me.  No matter how much I felt like a failure, my son was not moving because I was a terrible parent.  He was moving because he wanted the chance to be an adult. Saying no was saying no to my son and no one else. It would put a terrible strain on our relationship and serve no purpose that he would see. They were right so I cried some more and got to work.

I contacted my pump rep and got my son a new, in warranty insulin pump.  I contact our diabetes clinic and asked for his file to be moved back to our old doctor.  I bought school supplies, picked up new shoes and clothes and filled his prescriptions. I stayed up every hour that I could to spend it with him. I teased him a little about the things that he would miss out on  like bonding with our goldfish, fighting the dog for space on his bed, and lighting every candle in the house each evening. I told him that he could change his mind and stay. It wasn’t too late. He would laugh and say no.

His birthday would happen after he moved. We had an early birthday dinner.  We had an early cake. I gave him his presents early.  Inside of his card I gave him a list of things to remember, the first of course being how much I loved him, how proud I was of him, and that no matter what I knew that he was capable of caring for himself. He read my note. He smiled and put it away for later. The next day his father arrived, we loaded his belongings, I held him tight, we both cried (him a little, me a lot) and off he went.

As a stipulation of going, we arranged to discuss his readings every week. He was to upload his pump to the Diasend website and I would go in and see what was happening. This was one of the reasons for switching pumps–I could see boluses and blood tests from nine hours away. He also said that he would gladly Skype at 10pm when he had an assignment due the next day so that he could get my input. I really appreciated that –not, but reminded him that as I did with his brother, I would be in touch with the school and would be apprised of his marks and his progress.

Some people have asked what the big deal was? He was going to leave at one point anyway. I have to learn to let go. The big deal was one week to prepare myself when I thought I had two years…or more if he went on to trade school here. The big deal was he had not shown in the past an ability to take care of himself when away from me. It was as if I carried diabetes in my purse. If I wasn’t with him, he didn’t have diabetes and therefore did not need to test or do any of his care. I was scared of so many unknowns.

As a mother, I want to be there to protect my children–both of them.  I don’t want them hurt. Its my job to protect them. In the case of my youngest, that includes keeping him healthy and alive.  Now that I have had to hand his body over to him sooner, I feel like I have not completely done my job.  As I told him I know that he can do this. He has the knowledge and the ability but the desire is often lacking. Hopefully this experience will change that.  Perhaps now he will have that desire. Thankfully I have wonderful friends who continue to guide me and keep my expectations in check.

They have also helped me to find my way into this new chapter of my life as an empty-nester. Amongst many notes of support, a wise friend wrote…” A spectacularly difficult time for you Barb. But you have done everything you can to set him up for success. Now it’s up to him. Probably the hardest thing for all parents: letting go. Sending much love your way. You going through this will give you the experience to help other parents, whenever the time comes for them.”

So as Sandy wisely told me, I begin this new chapter in my life and in the life of Diabetes Advocacy–sharing with you the joys, fears, and realizations of parenting a young adult with diabetes from afar. It won’t be easy but parenting is never easy. Parenting a toddler, a pre-teen, a teen or a young adult with diabetes is even harder but we make it through with love, support and amazing family and friends.

letting go

 

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?