November 9, 2010

It's D-Blog Day!

The topic this year is: 6 things you want people to know about diabetes. I could fill volumes with what I would like the people in Noah's life to know about his disease, so breaking it down to 6 is a bit of a challenge, but here goes.

1. Type 1 diabetes is a tough disease to manage. From one day to the next, blood glucose can fluctuate with seemingly no explanation. It could be something as simple as stressing over a math test, or eating breakfast a half hour later than usual that can send blood sugars roaming out of the comfort zone and into the danger zone. Chasing a high with a correction bolus, water and exercise sometimes just plain doesn't do the trick. The same goes for pesky lows sometimes, and it can be frustrating knowing that through all your best efforts, diabetes is essentially blowing raspberries at you behind your back.

2. A good thing that came out of this journey is the overabundance of support that's available within the diabetes OC. As the mom of a newly diagnosed little boy 5 years ago, I was pretty much lost in a new world I didn't know how to navigate. My husband and I felt isolated not knowing anyone with whom we could identify. What we needed was someone to ease our fears and let us know that we weren't totally screwing things up. We have received so much help from so many people over the years with everything from recipes, to 504 plan advice. That kind of support is priceless and we are truly grateful.

3. Insulin is not a cure. I saw this on a t-shirt once, and it has since become my mantra any time an opportunity comes to raise funds for research, or to simply answer a question for someone who wants to know more about diabetes. So much more can and will be done in the way of research. For now, insulin is what is available, and we look so forward to the day we can have a more permanent solution. I'm hopeful it will happen in Noah's lifetime.

4. Insulin is the thing that's keeping my son alive.
I can't stress this enough to the insurance company who is refusing to allow us more than 1 bottle per month. When that vial gets low, I get mad and resentful at the fact that insurance companies will practically give away other drugs that to me are frivolous (Viagra, Cialis) and non life-sustaining, but they give me crap about how much insulin Noah is going through. It's not right.

5. We're lucky to have such a constant emphasis on Noah's health and diet. I always say he's one of the healthiest people I know. We have learned how to help him make good food choices, and he has such a healthy attitude towards what he eats. We have always steered him towards trying new things, while at the same time never making him feel like any food is "off limits". He gets to have cake at birthdays and candy at Halloween just like any other kid, but he knows that it's because he makes the right choices all the other days that creates that perfect balance.

6. Type 1 diabetes is a bully and a sore loser. It tries to be all badass, throwing a high blood glucose at Noah right before bed, or surprising him with a nasty low the minute he sits down for a quiz at school. Noah is stronger than diabetes, and always manages to get up in it's face, ,bring his A game, and win in the end. What can I say? The kid is good.

October 21, 2010

Imagine doing everything you're told. You stick to the rules, learn the tricks, and jump through all the hoops. You do this every second of every day. You do this out of fear. You do it because you are a parent and you have to. You do it out of love.

Imagine doing all that, and watching your most precious blessing, the thing you've been fighting for, and caring for, and loving so dearly slip away.

I don't know them, this family that must feel like their world has come crashing down on them. The recent death of their 13 year old child caused by a rare syndrome due to type 1 diabetes is something that can't be explained away. There is nothing and no one to set blame to. My heart is breaking for Eilish and her family- prayer feels so painfully inadequate, but I do it anyway.

It's cutting right into my mother's heart. All I can do is think of Noah and my God, how will I sleep tonight?

I'm sure, along with so many others, I won't.

June 14, 2010


When Noah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, we felt like our world was falling apart. I remember the doctor's explanation in a vague, dreamlike way. Nothing about what was said is crystal clear in my mind, but the feeling in the pit of my stomach is something I will never forget. Sick, and twisty. Not butterflies but the beating of leathery bat's wings.

In the 5 years since, life has become as normal and everyday as it can be when you're a busy family with the occasional crazy blood glucose or weird A1C result. I was confident that new sense of normal meant I would never feel that bat in my stomach again. As the saying goes, life goes on.

Unfortunately, the news of late has been anything but normal around here. My husband had brain surgery to remove a tumor that was recently found and was causing him to have seizures. The day he was to leave the hospital, we were told by the oncologist that the tumor was a malignant oligoastrocytoma. We were not prepared at all for that outcome. Of course, we knew of the possibility of cancer but it was presented to us as remote by the many specialists visited over the course of 2 months leading up to surgery.

I sat in the hospital room with my husband and cried while the family of his roommate on the other side of the curtain joked and laughed. It's funny the things that stick in your memories. I also remember the overwhelming feeling of being cheated out of a long life with the man I promised to grow old with.

Later that day, they sent him home.

Three days went by, and we shared the news with immediate family. The outpouring of support after coming home was unbelievable- meals were dropped off at our home, cards and phone calls were abundant as were words of encouragement and prayer. We began to feel as though we could get through it.

I had been relying on my mom to hang with Noah during the days I stayed late at MGH, and she was so generous with her time and her help- all while nursing a chronic sore back, so on Jon's third day home from the hospital, it was a nice treat when my mom stopped by the house just to visit and hang out.

We sat and talked. That's when my mom told me that she was diagnosed with cancer during the same week Jon was recovering from his brain surgery. It was her back pain that prompted her to visit her doctor. I learned that while I was at MGH in the morning, my mom was also at MGH having tests and meeting with specialists. Then, she would drive the hour back up North to be here at the house when Noah got home from school.

I sat there, completely ripped apart and crying thinking of how my mom was alone when she learned that cancer invaded her lungs, liver and spine.

That was 2 months ago. Lots of things have happened since then. Jon has started radiation therapy and is at the halfway mark. Mom is doing chemotherapy, and is tough as nails. Noah took the news very hard at first, but over the last few weeks he's been doing better.

The truth is, it feels like living in the Twilight Zone. There are good days and shitty days. Despite feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under my life, I refuse to sit in the corner and cry. The support from friends and family has been so uplifting and has proven to be incredibly healing.

Who knows what will happen in the next year, month or even day. Please take the time to tell the people you love just how much they mean to you. Take care of your health. Go to the doctor if something seems "off".

And please, pray.

February 24, 2010

I don't even know how to lead into this story, so I'll just blurt it out. We've been going through a lot here at our house lately. We recently found out that my husband has a brain tumor. His team of doctors are confident it's not cancer, and that they will be able to remove most, if not all of the tumor. He did a week-long stint at MGH in Boston for extended EEG testing a couple weeks ago, and now we wait for a surgery date. During this time, Noah has had some crazy blood sugars and I'm pretty sure the stress and worry about what's going on with his dad is a huge contributing factor, so I'm trying my best to be extremely positive.

But really? I feel like a swimmer caught in the undertow. I honestly don't know how to take on this much.

I don't know how much time I'll have to blog, but I know it helps to have a place to vent it all, so I may just be a little blogging machine. We'll see.

December 15, 2009

site change

Last Night at our house...

Me: assume the position, kiddo. Which side?
Noah: the right, this time.
Me: you ready?
Noah: not yet...(deep breaths)

Me: ready now?

Noah: hold on...(a few more deep breaths)...okay. OW!
Me: honey, I'm sorry. (eyes filling up) I'm sorry you have to always do this crap.
Noah: It's okay. I have to do it because diabetes just came and got me.

December 10, 2009

Feeling the pinch

Parenting a child who has type 1 comes with all kinds of challenges. A tough one is identifying with how a high or a low must feel to Noah, because neither me or my husband have diabetes. Noah experiences some symptoms of a low blood sugar that I can see readily : shaky hands and pale, sweaty face. How he feels on the inside is a bit of a mystery to me,and although he's tried to describe the "cruddy feeling" that washes over him, it's not something I can really relate to.

Today, I got to experience a small taste of that cruddy feeling for myself. Since July, I've been seeing a nutritionist to get my weight under control. I've been doing pretty good, too. I've lost 30 lbs. so far, and have about 20 more to go before I reach my goal. Because of the weight loss, my body is a little out of whack- I used to always be hungry and I was told that it was because I constantly snacked and grazed during the day, keeping my blood glucose on the higher end of the scpectrum.

Now that I eat normally, my body no longer craves the constant flow of food, and I'm no longer always feeling hungry to keep up with that demand.
The problem is, even though I'm eating my calories for the day, I don't feel hungry enough to snack between meals at all. That caused a problem for me early this afternoon, right before lunch. I felt shaky and pretty cruddy. I couldn't think straight and became panicky. I wondered out loud; "If this is only half of what a low feels like, it SO sucks".

I grabbed a clementine off the counter, scarfed it and sat- staring at the clock on the microwave a full ten minutes.

And then I did something out of curiosity. I went to the D-Drawer and grabbed Noah's spare test kit and used it. 82 mg/dl.

I guess it's not bad for an adult, right? But all I can think of is that reading came after I ate the clementine, so I wonder what it was before?
I also can't get that feeling of confusion and anxiety out of my head. It was unpleasant and uncomfortable. I imagine my blood sugar wasn't all that low to begin with, but now I see a tiny bit how Noah (or anyone else with diabetes, for that matter) feels when a low starts. I'm amazed at how anyone going through a low can even function enough to go through the motions of a blood glucose test, let alone rummage around for something to treat the low afterward.

I'm also amazed at the fact that most type 1's test 10 times a day, because my pinky finger still hurts from the lancet. (yep, I'm a baby) I don't know how you guys all do it...all day...every day. Yeah, I got a small taste of what it's like, and it made a big impact.

December 2, 2009

hold on tight

this might be the most adorable thing ever.